Last week we talked about how you’re training the people around you how they can treat you all the time. This week we wanted to share some of the underlying beliefs and boundaries that are your work to do – necessary prework – before you can start to train the people around you.
Years ago, back in the early 1990’s, I was an Account Executive in a big New York City Advertising Agency. I was working on a new business pitch for Burger King. There was a senior Ad Exec who had a bit of a reputation of being a “Good Old Boy”. He would often hold court in the company cafeteria with a bunch of other young men. All men!
At the time, a colleague and friend of mine Ralph and I had started a program where folks could sign up and volunteer their lunch hour to deliver a meal to people with AIDs in the neighborhood. It was part of a not for profit group called God’s Love We Deliver. We were actively recruiting volunteers and had made a poster which we had displayed in front of the cafeteria.
On this particular day, this senior Ad Exec, we will call him Joe, called me over to his table where he was sitting at the head with maybe eight to ten guys sitting around him. He proceeded to tell me off, berating me, the God’s Love we Deliver Program, and yelled at me to get it down before the Burger King clients came into town which was going to be in about a week. I will never repeat what he actually said because it was so rude! Holding my tray of food, I started to shake and just turned around and left. I think I was sort of in shock.
I bumped into Ralph and explained what had just happened. He said, “You have to talk to HR!”. So, I left to find the head of HR.
Now here’s the deal. I did not know what I wanted to do. In those moments or even hours after this experience, I did not know “the answer”. I just knew one thing: I knew I did not want Joe to think he could ever talk to me like that again, or for that matter anyone else in the advertising agency. That’s it. That’s all I knew.
The head of HR was terrific. She said that his behavior was illegal, we could file a complaint, but left the choice up to me. I said out loud I think, for the first time, “I just don’t want him thinking he can talk to me or anyone else like that.” She said, “Then you have to go and tell him that.”
So, I did. I went to his office. He was alone. No posse to grandstand with. I asked if we could talk. He was almost meek and said yes. I told him that what he did – the way that he talked to me in the cafeteria was illegal. And, that he could never talk to me or anyone else like that again. And if he ever did, I would file charges against him. He said okay and I left. He never did. And in fact, I never worked with him again. Probably a choice as much on his behalf as on mine.
Now, could I have not had such a great HR person and maybe gotten fired? Yes! Could the company have sided with Joe? Of course, yes! And I would have been okay with that because I did not want to be treated like that.
When you are thinking about your own situations, there are three things around this idea of training people how to treat you:
- Boundaries – you’ve got to know your own personal/philosophical boundaries.
- Beliefs –these are related to beliefs you are willing to hold. So, spend some time getting to know your own beliefs. You have so may experiences already, mine them (Journal them, meditate on them) get to know what your beliefs are!
- Claim them – which may be the most difficult. You must be willing to live your life by them and have your life be fueled by them.
Is this easy work? No. Is it hard work? I don’t even know if that is true. I just think it is the work that we all need to do in order to be clear about how we want to be treated. We have to do that internal work first before we can actually speak it out loud to the people around us.
Thanks for joining us for this week’s “Five-minute Epiphanies to Mine the Mess for Success: Tips, Snippets and Stories.” For more information check us out at www.stepupleadership.com. Next week join we will be talking about a skill that will literally change the way you live your life.