To the people who’ve always done as they are told and who feel they have to sacrifice some facet of themselves in order to be liked or accepted: STOP. I was like that. I truly believed that if I was nice to people they would like me or give me what I want in return for me giving them what they needed. I’d help people and go out of my way to get them what they needed hoping they would do the same. Today was different.
I got to work and, after the last week, I gave zero f*#ks. Not that I didn’t care, just that I didn’t feel the need to ask permission or care what people thought. I’ve worked there for 16 years and we’ve been going through a lot of intense stuff to say the least so my patience has admittedly been running thin. Today a new kid took my papers off of the communal printer and threw them out. I came out of my office while they were still printing and he had already thrown out two of my reports. Seemingly innocent, could happen to anyone, I know, but that is a big no no with us because it is a shared printer. Also pretty common sense to be honest—just because you don’t know what it is, you don’t throw it out without speaking to your management.
Regardless, he pulled my reports out of the shredder bin and I told him, “We don’t ever throw anything off out of the printer.” Simple, kind, to the point—no yelling and completely factual. And that’s where it went downhill. This kid looks at me and says, “Yeah, ok, isn’t there another printer to use?” I told him as bluntly as I could that the printer is for everyone and it doesn’t matter, follow the team’s protocol. I didn’t even give him a chance to question and I made sure he knew I meant business. I can make allowances for people being stressed, learning a new job, feeling unsure. But I have never had any employee speak to anyone, let alone a manager that way—not a good way to make an impression on the job.
See, part of self-love is self-respect and keeping the boundaries we talked about last week. I’m no longer content to allow people to walk over me because they automatically feel entitled that they can. For me, respect goes two ways and I am no longer sacrificing the receiving end of that respect. In a work environment especially, I have earned my keep. For a long time I would take it personally and wonder why someone would feel they have the right to speak to me that way. Now, I don’t care what they think, you will NOT speak to me that way. I used to be afraid that I would get in trouble for coaching an employee, but that is the definition of my job.
Respect isn’t about being nice for the sake of being nice—it’s about doing what is right because you’re dealing with another human. Everyone is afforded that right no matter how shitty your day may be or how off you feel. And a personal bit of advice: don’t ever make assumptions about people based on how they look. You never know who you are dealing with and that person may have the exact answer you’re looking for. Most importantly, it isn’t selfish or arrogant to command respect—it’s a mutual feeling held for other people.