Wounded animals can be the most dangerous animals in the jungle. This holds true even in the workplace jungle. I learned it the hard way.
It was the 1970’s and I was just the smartest, sassiest, cat’s meow. I worked hard and delivered results. So far so good. The problem was I had a razor sharp tongue with a will of its own. I was a mid-level employee, powerless and too low on the totem pole to kill anyone with my tongue. I just wounded, and ended up wounding someone who had the power (or the connection to power) to take me out.
No one said a word. No one pulled my coat. So on I went, working hard and speaking my mind.
Then it happened. My dream job became vacant. That job was designed for my skills, my experience – that job was mine! My credentials were in order. The interview went exceptionally well. The competition couldn’t touch me. I DID NOT GET THE JOB.
Wow! What a wakeup call. In an earlier article I spoke of “Divine intervention”. This is the experience I referenced. At not 30 years of age, I knew exactly what I must do. It had to be God. How else would I have had the clarity of mind and presence to do what happened next?
I called the hiring manager and asked to see him. He agreed. I said: “You know and I know I was the top candidate – at least on paper. It is important for me to know what went wrong. I promise you, whatever you say will not be repeated or come back to hurt you or the organization. I need to know because I am young enough and smart enough to fix it”. Only God could have given me those words and touch the heart of the man hearing them.
The manager told me everything – exactly who blocked me and why. The Blocker was very high in the organization. Although I had not been disrespectful with the Blocker, I had wounded one of “his boys” – someone I considered grossly incompetent, a real target for my tongue.
I listened calmly and thanked the manager for trusting me. Everything he said was true. I had wounded others and put my career in danger.
After assessing the damage and determining it was too grave to repair, I resigned. I kept my word, said nothing, and used the lesson as a springboard to greater opportunities in other places.
Few of us have the power (the ammunition) to “shoot to kill” in the workplace. Extra care must be taken to avoid wounding with careless words or deeds. Keep your gun/tongue holstered. Wounded co-workers keep your career in danger. If you think you are powerful enough to go after someone at work, think twice and be very sure you can take them out. Shoot to kill.
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