A few months ago, I was going through a really stressful time at work. I find it incredibly hard to be told what to do by people I have no respect for, and when I had to keep my silence for the sake of my job, I couldn’t bear it anymore.
I was dreading work every single day. I’d get into fits of rage over the smallest of things, my thoughts were irrational and I fell into a really bad slump.
I believe it’s one of the most mentally draining things to be somewhere you don’t want to be. It’s even more mentally draining if the person who holds your job in his hands is deriving pleasure from having the power to put you into a state of misery.
It all started with a simple request: to move to a different desk so I didn’t have to sit next to a certain woman. The reasons for not wanting to sit next to her don’t matter, but I was told I couldn’t move. I pushed and pushed for a legitimate reason to be denied the move but my manager was thinking up excuse after excuse after excuse.
Each time, I was batting his excuses away like a girl hurling shit tests at me. He was getting more and more agitated. He wasn’t used to people questioning his authority because he’s successfully instilled a fear into them. I, however, am not the type to fall in line. I could see exactly what kind of person he is, and that person is a snivelling little weasel, unmarried, with not much going on in life and he was getting high off of his power at work. This was the only worthwhile thing in his life. Imagine that.
I had three separate meetings with him, all around 40 minutes long, of constant back and forths. Each time, he would leave the meeting and phone his boss, then come back at me another day with a whole new wave of excuses which I kept shooting down. He knew he was losing against me and he hated it. I knew the reason why he didn’t want to move me, but he couldn’t say it.
He’d seated me in his line of vision because of my “work ethic”. I apparently used my mobile phone too much during working hours and it was affecting my work…apparently. Never mind that I was the second highest performer in terms of quality and had never missed a deadline. His issue was personal.
He eventually and unofficially let it slip that he was monitoring me and that’s why I wasn’t being moved. I squeezed it out of him by pushing him to his limit. He wasn’t allowed to tell me because it was a personal issue and he was trying to get me to fall in line and failing. There was no “black and white” reason for him to call me up on my constant mobile phone usage because my performance was so high, so he was waiting for me to slip up to then get me. This is against company policy. If I was being monitored, I had to be notified and I’d had no prior warning. I told him this and he was speechless. I’d irked him and he’d let it slip. He knew if I escalated it, he’d be in trouble.
Over the next couple of days with his back against the wall, he threatened me with two disciplinaries. One, for leaving a piece of paper on my desk which made us look “unprofessional”, and two, for being “distracted” and not hearing instructions from management. They purposefully lowered their voices to catch me out on this.
I’d had enough. I wanted to call him out on all his shit straight to his face, and I wanted to go straight to his boss’ boss with a case for a grievance. I even told my manager this and he shit himself at the idea and started sucking up to me.
I spoke to Jimmy about it, and he gave me a lot of good advice.
His advice was to strip my emotion away from the situation and look at it logically and objectively. I am a paid contractor, and he is paid to oversee or “manage” me. If you can call it management. He calls the shots, I do the work, I get paid. That’s the deal.
Looking at it this way helped immensely. I started feeling better and my mood improved. I laughed at myself for getting involved in such petty bullshit that in the scheme of things didn’t matter in the slightest. I said to myself then that in a few months, I’d be laughing at how stupid the whole thing was, and here I am today looking back thinking how childish it was to get involved.
Either way, I wanted revenge on the cunt. I was going to list every single thing that the cunt had done and the amount of others that agreed with me, but Jimmy said it was the wrong approach. He then sent me to a scene from Shakespeare’s play “Caesar”.
In it, Antony convinces the townsfolk that Brutus “is an honourable man”. He has nothing but praise for Brutus, who has done wrong, but gently reminds the townsfolk what is wrong under his rule.
The townsfolk are against Caesar at his funeral. Antony persuades the townsfolk that Caesar was a good man, and tells the townsfolk of Brutus’ words of praise for Caesar. The townsfolk adore Brutus and trust his words, but if his words are to be trusted, why are there so many problems under Brutus? It must be because of Brutus! They soon turn on Brutus in favour of Caesar.
It’s a very cunning ploy, and is one I adopted at Jimmy’s advice when I wanted to report my manager. Instead of outright accusing my manager of wrongdoing, I would get the company to think it themselves.
This is something (more or less) what I said in the meeting:
“I’m just trying to do my job but I need some clarity. I’m trying to produce high quality work and meet high pressured deadlines, but I’m not sure where my focus should be. I’ve been threatened with a disciplinary for leaving a piece of paper on my desk when I was in the middle of a job and focusing on it. I was also threatened with a disciplinary for not hearing some instructions called out to me rather indirectly when I was focusing on another tight-deadlined job. I just want to know where the company wants me to put all of my focus. Do you want me to put all of my focus on producing the high quality work that you expect, or should I be concentrating more on whether I have a piece of paper on my desk? I don’t mind, it’s your company, but if it’s the latter then I think that’s a waste of time when there’s more important things to worry about”.
There were several other things said like this regarding other matters from my manager including the desk move. I asked whether it’s best for me to be in an environment where I could thrive, or work in an environment that would cause me stress and effect my work.
Since then, my manager has been suspended for a month and it looks like he’s going to be fired. It wasn’t just my case, but someone has previously left the job because of his victimisation and a woman has just been signed off with stress related issues because of him for the second time in a matter of months. My case was the icing on top.
I think this is the better way to go about arguing your point rather than directly going for the jugular. It proved to be more effective and maybe I wouldn’t have had as many confrontations with my manager had I adopted this way sooner.
It’s certainly given me a better perspective on interacting with people and getting what I want from them.
Here’s an excerpt of the scene from the play:
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
The whole scene is here.