Competition instead of Collaboration

posted
27-Oct-16, 08:17
by Bah
Avatar for Bah
posted about 10 months ago
I am a first-year doctoral student and very excited to be in the program. We are a cadre of eight students, and the logic has been to foster an environment of collaboration among cadre mates to achieve deeper learning. I am frustrated to death by how some of the people in this group try to marginalize me and give me a sense of inferiority and being unimportant. I don't know whether it is because I belong to a minority group, or if it comes out of jealousy. Whatever it is, they make me feel awful every time I have an interaction with them to the extent that I become unable to study for several days as a result of this bad feeling. Any suggestions as to what I should do to help me?
Thank you in advance
posted
28-Oct-16, 20:29
by Trilla
Avatar for Trilla
posted about 10 months ago
Try not to care so much? And when you have found out how to do it, can you teach me how not to care as well, thank you!
posted
28-Oct-16, 22:19
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 10 months ago
Hey Bah, It may not be for either of the reasons you suggest. Check out this recent thread - it sounds similar to your situation:

http://www.postgraduateforum.com/thread-47926/
posted
28-Oct-16, 23:00
by CR1980 1 star member
Avatar for CR1980
posted about 10 months ago
To be honest you need to rise above it. There will always be people who make things competitive and the best thing you can do is be polite and not let it get under your skin. You'll be amazed at how many people get stuck after a while and find they have nothing to be competitive about. Don't let them out you off your work. Head down, do your own thing. Always easier said than done!
posted
29-Oct-16, 07:57
edited about 52 seconds later
by Ephiny 1 star member
Avatar for Ephiny
posted about 10 months ago
What kind of things are they saying that are so upsetting? If it's anything outright racist or abusive, for example, you shouldn't have to put up with that. But if it's just people being weird and over-compensating for their own insecurities, I agree the best thing is to just ignore and focus on your own work as best you can.
posted
30-Oct-16, 09:28
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 10 months ago
Can you bring an example of the interaction you find hurtful?

If the group critises your work, you should never be defensive or feel they are trying to hurt you because they are jealous. You should take the comments seriously and feel lucky that you have the opportunity to improve. In all honesty it gives me the chills when i present and afterwards there is just silence, no questions/criticism.
posted
05-Nov-16, 02:00
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for FlyingSaucer
posted about 9 months ago
Quote From Bah:
I am a first-year doctoral student and very excited to be in the program. We are a cadre of eight students, and the logic has been to foster an environment of collaboration among cadre mates to achieve deeper learning. I am frustrated to death by how some of the people in this group try to marginalize me and give me a sense of inferiority and being unimportant. I don't know whether it is because I belong to a minority group, or if it comes out of jealousy. Whatever it is, they make me feel awful every time I have an interaction with them to the extent that I become unable to study for several days as a result of this bad feeling. Any suggestions as to what I should do to help me?
Thank you in advance


I am not sure if you will come back to check further responses in this thread, but I will say it's a shame to hear things do not seem to be going well for you. I am an MA rather than a PhD student, so don't have any tips on how to navigate these kinds of situations when the dynamics play out as they have. Additionally, I find it interesting but unsurprising that you've received an almost complete lack of sympathy from those who have responded to your dilemma. I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you, but I hope you find a solution.
posted
08-Nov-16, 02:12
by Bah
Avatar for Bah
posted about 9 months ago
Thank you so much, Trilla and CR1980 for your compassionate replies. Thank you Tudor-Queen for the link you provided. It was very similar to my situation. I appreciate it. In response to Ephiny and Dr Jeckyll, I should say for example, the professors divided us into groups of two to three people to be learning partners and every once in a while meet or call each other and check our studies together. I was grouped with two other ladies. I texted them and invited them for a coffee, but they said they are busy and would let me know when our study sessions would start. Later, they didn't answer my texts and after that, I understood they are studying together, and excluding me from the group without notifying me. It was just the beginning of the year and they even didn't know me. So I can only assume that it has been because of my difference in appearance because none of us knew each other yet. Later during the semester, whenever there is a common concern that needs everybody's approval, I am the only one whom they never ask whether I am comfortable with the new change or not. They treat me in a way as if I do not exist!
posted
08-Nov-16, 07:07
edited about 5 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 9 months ago
You wrote in another thread that you are married, have a twelve year-old daughter, work in an elementary school and so on. Could it be just the age-difference and the fact that you only work part-time? As the typical UK PhD student is usually relatively young, it wouldn't really surprise me if they have more in common with other PhD students at a similar life stage. They are often not just colleagues, but also close friends. Maybe they just want to stay among themselves? Not saying that this isn't rude behavior, but I think it is much more likely than discrimination or jealousy. Especially in the early 20s some people can still be quite immature. I remember a thread where someone that was doing a PhD in his late 40s also wrote that he had a hard time in the department and was excluded of many things mainly because he was over 20 years older than the other PhD students.
posted
09-Nov-16, 09:34
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for Nesrine87
posted about 9 months ago
Hi Bah,

I'm the OP of the thread linked by Tudor_Queen.

I don't know if this will be helpful but I'll give you an update to my situation. Long story short, it has improved. I took the advice of those who responded to me and decided to stop wasting my time with people who were rude/competitive/unresponsive. I spend time with my husband, keep up with 'pre-PhD' friends around the UK and see two other PhD students for drinks from time to time, where we complain about other people in the department :)

It will take some time but hopefully you will find one or two people (you don't need more than that) who are on your wavelength. It's definitely easier said than done but try to remember that you got accepted for the programme, so you have no reason to feel inferior. It's tough but you'll get there. If you are a bit older than the average PhD student, maybe there's a club for mature students? Or look outside the uni for hobby clubs or sports that interest you and meet people that way. It's good to get out the PhD bubble especially if you're feeling anxious or upset.

Good luck!
posted
09-Nov-16, 16:19
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 9 months ago
So glad to hear things have improved Nesrine!
posted
09-Nov-16, 16:28
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 9 months ago
Hi again Bah, thanks for explaining the situation more. It still may have nothing to do with your appearance... I feel quite strongly about this as it is so easy to attribute reasons for people's behaviours, and those reasons may be completely wrong but can still lead to the individual getting a complex about X or Y that is different about them. If you looked "the same" as the others, this may still be happening - seriously. People are weird. They may think that they click and that their bond is made stronger by excluding a third person. That is just one other potential reason - there are many many more. Anyway, whatever the reason - even if it is differences in appearance - I hope you soon get to meet some people are more friendly and considerate of others.
posted
11-Nov-16, 10:24
edited about 11 seconds later
by Raveesh
Avatar for Raveesh
posted about 9 months ago
Hi Bah,

You just need to act indifferent to all this.
We humans tend to get worried for such bad things,
and unfortunately we channelize our energies towards all these negative things.
If you really want to work for your dreams, just stay positive
and use all your stamina in the right direction.

Have a bright future!
posted
11-Nov-16, 15:03
edited about 22 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 9 months ago
Quote From Nesrine87:
Hi Bah,

I'm the OP of the thread linked by Tudor_Queen.

I don't know if this will be helpful but I'll give you an update to my situation. Long story short, it has improved. I took the advice of those who responded to me and decided to stop wasting my time with people who were rude/competitive/unresponsive. I spend time with my husband, keep up with 'pre-PhD' friends around the UK and see two other PhD students for drinks from time to time, where we complain about other people in the department :)

It will take some time but hopefully you will find one or two people (you don't need more than that) who are on your wavelength. It's definitely easier said than done but try to remember that you got accepted for the programme, so you have no reason to feel inferior. It's tough but you'll get there. If you are a bit older than the average PhD student, maybe there's a club for mature students? Or look outside the uni for hobby clubs or sports that interest you and meet people that way. It's good to get out the PhD bubble especially if you're feeling anxious or upset.

Good luck!


Yep this is what worked for me too. At first you feel upset at what is a staggering and blatant level of ageism from many young people. You then find one or two who are not essentially children and who can hold an adult conversation with a person 20 years older than them for more than 10 minutes without freaking out. Then you stop caring about the others. Some of them will eventually see that you are actually a human being and might try to engage with you. Its then up to you whether to bother with them again. Besides as I have said on another thread, life is too busy for me now with the PhD, family and a couple of friends to worry about these types of people.
posted
15-Nov-16, 07:11
edited about 10 seconds later
by Bah
Avatar for Bah
posted about 9 months ago
Thank you so much for all your kind and supportive responses! It feels so GREAT to see there are some people who care about my feelings. I truly appreciate it. To give you some details, we are students in the US and not the UK, so the social setting is mostly racist by nature. There are only eight students in my class and two of the ladies are even a couple of years older than me. In fact, the one who is most similar to me in age and family situations is the one who leads these racist reactions towards me. Basically, she gets close to whomever that acts friendly to me and after a few interactions with her, I see the friendly behavior of that person changed to ignorance and rudeness. I even spoke with my instructors about this because it is a real mental torture for me, and the best solution they offered was changing my major, to be able to be in another class! They said there are some other people from the part of the world where you are coming from in that other class, so you can make friends with them. I see these as racist comments. Instead of solving the problem, they offer to send me out. This society is sometimes really unfair!

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