What I love most about my role in the workplace is that I have often been underestimated. I come off as very smart and nice. I laugh, I smile and I say hello to everyone. I don’t outright try to antagonize anyone (right away). I’m a talker. I’m a chatterbox yet I don’t actually say much. I joke. But my humor is very much New York humor. Thus, some people really find me funny. Others are bewildered and others turned off. And that is fine with me. Over a decade ago, when I started being the boss, I stopped expecting people to like me. Sure, people like me as I am funny and nice, but not everyone will LIKE me. And that is just fine. Now with all this niceness and jokes, people tend to underestimate me. Well, let me rephrase they don’t underestimate my knowledge or skills.
They underestimate how much I will crush someone if I am messed with. There hasn’t been a workplace war I haven’t won. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it, to make such a statement. It sounds crazy because one’s workplace shouldn’t be a battlefield. Often, sadly, workplaces are warzones centered around tedious, minutia. I try to avoid the wars and the battles because I am nice. Or rather I play a nice person on tv.
Anyway, there was this woman many years ago who was essentially Darth Vader. She was one of the meanest people I had ever met. I didn’t understand how she was tolerated in the workplace. I imagined that she had dirt on the higher ups. She and I got along originally. She supposedly liked my work ethic and how I whipped my staff into shape. What she didn’t quite understand is that I earned staff loyalty and I was loyal to my team. She went after one of my team members in a horrible, vindictive way. That staff person then may have referred to the evil one as a B*tch. I never heard her say that. Somehow, it got back to the evil one who then started an email war with me wherein she copied the company president and vice president. I was flabbergasted that things had reached such a crazy point. The higher powers that be called us into a mediation meeting (without telling me it was a mediation meeting). In that meeting, she then decided to lie and assert that I had called her a B* and encouraged my staff to do so as well. The idiots in the room hemmed and hawed. I turned to them all and stated to her “I did not call you a B* but you know what, you are most definitely one”. I then stated the meeting was over as she was a horrible person and there would never be mediation and walked out. She soon left the company and we threw a party. As an organization, we didn’t collapse as her ego believed we would.
Throughout the years I have had similar situations where people thought I would cower before their bullying. Recently, I had a situation where mean girls were being mean girls and thought they could push me out. Instead, one day, I pulled them into a random meeting, closed the door and told them “I don’t care if you don’t like me. You don’t need to like me. But you will respect me.” Sure enough, one of them quite soon thereafter. And everyone else knew I might be nice but I’m also going to drop the mic on you when warranted. Never be afraid to do the same.