Feeling a bit damned by faint praise

My line manager left the company this week, and he gave a little leavers speech today, talking about what he think he achieved, and picking a couple of people out to thank. In short, your typical leavers speech.

I was one of the 2 people he chose to thank, being thanked for “being me”, which, to me at least, doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement. I tried to be supportive in my dealings with him, but whenever we talked he’d tell me that his line managers “expressed concerns” about him, and that he suspected that the people he managed felt the same.

I suspect that he was looking for me to say “Oh no, they think you’re awesome”, but that… simply wouldn’t have been true. I praised the things that worked, but I suggested that there were some things people grumbled about. Some were valid, some, not so much. Either way, they probably needed to be addressed, and anyway, I’ve a… reputation here for either speaking truth to power, or not being the sort of person who can verbally “shine a sH**” or put a gracefully positive spin on ideas, or being social awkward, or assuming you want an honest answer to a question, or whatever is the best description for someone who’s like that.

The result of our discussions often resulted in me being shouted at. I’ll rephrase that. They invariably resulted in me being shouted at, and I wish I wasn’t the sort of person who felt the urge to put himself into positions where I knew I’d be shouted at like some junkyard dog, but someone had to do it, and I truly believe it, even if it meant that I’ve probably damaged my career in the process.

Anyhow, after 3 years, I’m perplexed. I’ve tried to be a supportive, honest broker, but being thanked for it left me thinking “Hmm”. Part of me feels I’d have probably preferred not to have been thanked at all, rather than be thanked like that.


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