Friday, August 15, 2008

People Often Reveal More Than They Want To Or Ought To

This is the final post about the importance of reading everything that crosses your desk.

It’s important that you really read everything that comes across your desk, when you are working in a hostile environment. Not only may there be subtle accusations being made about your character, work ethic or job performance, but there may also be information included that can help PROVE your case.

When people are on the attack, they may tip their hand or reveal a bit more than they should have. They are trying so hard to get you in a nasty email or memo that they may slip up and make a confession or even a semi-confession. They may accidentally corroborate something you’ve said about one thing by lying about something else.

For instance, my employer denied engaging in any employment actions against me, when I filed an external complaint. But, when asked to respond in writing they claimed that every employment action they took against me was due to my poor performance and/or negative behavior. Which one was it? Did they or didn’t they take employment actions against me?

Well, in writing, they confessed to taking actions with regard to my employment. Now, they had to answer as to what exact actions they took and they had to justify why they took them. They would have been better off sticking to deniability and saying they had no idea what I was complaining about. They should have stuck to the story of not doing anything to me and forced me to prove that they did.

Instead, my employer acknowledged—in writing—that they did act with regard to my employment. They were so busy trying to blame me for their actions, in order to justify those actions, that they didn’t think about how they were contradicting earlier statements that they didn't do anything to me. It may not seem like a big deal, but credibility is being assessed by investigators. Every little lie exposed to an investigator or lawyer makes an employer look like they would lie about the really big things!

It is important that you become an avid reader at work. You may develop all sorts of defenses to counter your employer’s false claims, just by thoroughly reading the information you have in your possession. So, read the boring stuff (like the personnel manual) and carefully read the explosive stuff (like offensive emails).

Don’t get so caught up in being pissed by an email or memo that you don’t go back and sift through the document word-for-word to see what you can use to your advantage. Prevailing in the workplace often involves using your opponent’s words and actions against them.

Get everything in writing.

And, carefully read everything you receive.

Never allow your frustration with the job prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities to exploit your employer.

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