Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't Be Surprised by Disappointments!

After being a witness to race-based retaliation and participating in the investigation that ensued AND having to file my own complaint with an outside agency, the one thing I can say really troubled me--even more than the actions of my employer--was how my coworkers behaved. This is especially true of my Black coworkers, who engaged in behavior that seemed to come right off a nighttime soap opera!

What I would say to anyone else, who is dealing with race-based issues at work, is that you should mentally prepare yourself to deal with coworkers who will truly disappoint you and let you down.

Hopefully, you'll come across people who are honest and conduct themselves with integrity. But, that isn't often the case. There are usually going to be at least one or two people who will:

--try to leverage your misery for their own person/professional gain (promotions, raises, bonuses, etc.) by making false allegations, etc. on behalf of the company;

--pretend they don't know anything about what you're complaining about because they don't want to be involved;

--say whatever the company wants them to say for fear of losing THEIR job;

--stop speaking to you or go out of their way to avoid being seen with you;

--stop inviting you to lunch with them or will stop wanting to hang out with you after work;


The list of disappointments is limitless.

All I can say is that what people did, who I was close to and who the other complaining Black worker was close to, still gets under my skin to this day.

How could they do it?

How do they sleep at night?

Are they proud of themselves?

Why do we tear each other down?

The reality is, I can only control me and the answers to those questions may not be for me to know. All I can do is be true to my personal value system and let other people be responsible for themselves.

Honestly, you often can't lecture or browbeat someone into doing the right thing and even if you could it would be tampering with a potential witness. Whatever it is they have to say might be deemed inadmissible based on pressure from the complaining employee.

So, it's up to each person to do what they have to do and to do what they can live with. It's easier to deal with this reality, if you don't set up false expectations.

Some people are going to fear for their job or are going to see a path to a career or a raise open up based on your misery. That's on them.

You must do everything you can to document your case with evidence that can stand, even without or with limited witness participation. Write everything down. Follow up with emails. Get your issues in writing. Keep a list of what happens in meetings about your issues at work. Etc. You can do things to solidify your case against your employer.

Don't let the disappointing behavior of other folks ruin your spirit or stop you from documenting your issues. Keep on keeping on. Do you!!


Anonymous Melanie said...

I am truly grateful that I came across your site. There is a lot of excellent information contained here. I only wish I would have discovered this sooner. I have gone through EVERY single one of those disappointments listed and it was excruciatingly painful. When the people you thought were your friends turn their backs against you and no longer want to be seen with you, it feels like a kick in the gut! In the future, I will be much more aware and careful of my workplace associations. Thank you for this amazing website.

2:16 PM  

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