Work Stories Project
About This Show
Telling the untold stories of our work life. We curate a broad spectrum of the human experience of work, from work burnout and depression to pursuing our life purpose, joy, and mastery at work. We will explore new professions, novel work designs, and radical ways of organizing people and resources that focus on human thriving. We hope to help you see your work in new ways, one story at a time. Together, let's re-imagine what work can be for you, your loved ones, and the society as a whole.
Most Recent Episode
E2. Story of A Workplace Asshole-Part 2
May 29 16
Full Show Transcription Welcome back to the Work Stories Project. I’m your host Carol Xu. In today’s show, Mark and his co-workers will continue with the workplace asshole story. In the last episode, Mark had no real awareness that his co-workers hated working with him for four years. When his manager Miles incidentally broke the news to him, it was a painful revelation to Mark. Mark: It just never occurred to me that I was disliked. So the idea that my self-image of being a nice guy that people generally like… To have that idea destroyed like that was eye-opening and painful. It’s like a revelation. To redeem himself, Mark went and bought flowers for the implementation coordinators (ICs for short), Mark: One flower for each IC and a little note saying, “I’m sorry I’ve been such an asshole” and… I think they gave me a hug. There was reconciliation. Apologies and coming together. It just turned the whole thing around. However, notice there were limits to what a symbolic gesture could accomplish. There were no real conversations where Mark and the ICs sat down and actually got to know each other. Mark thinks that the flowers were a good beginning, but shouldn’t be the end. Mark: It should be “let’s sit down and have a conversation and figure out what’s actually going on with our emotions and the interplay, and what exactly is happening here,” and be honest with each other and get to the heart of the matter. That’s what I value. But in the culture at BISNET at the time, such honest conversations seemed impossible. Mark: That’s corporate culture or whatever. You just can’t talk about that stuff. It could get heated. Maybe it was better the way it went down: “Let’s at least pretend that I’m not an asshole. And you pretend you don’t hate me. Maybe we can actually get to a point where you don’t hate me and I’m not an asshole, [laugh] if we just pretend long enough.” I ask Miles whether there were any lasting changes after the flower gesture, Carol: Do you remember any changes after the flower incident, in terms of people’s interactions or their reluctance (to interact)? Miles: No. I think like most things, it’s hard for people to change, both for Mark to change and for anybody