blog conversation: dealing with bad work experiences

what was the worst job you’ve ever had? what are ways of surviving that experience – and not just surviving but learning from it and thriving in the next job?

that’s the topic of a blog conversation jacob from the job mob and i will be having in the next little while. jacob started it off in his post recovering from bad work experiences by mentioning a few very unpleasant work situations, for example

  • being yelled at by a receptionist for daring to follow up after sending over a CV
  • told 7 months in advance that i was going to be laid off
  • sitting in a tense meeting listening to one executive berate another one

these experiences leave a bad taste in your mouth, even if they happen only once. i remember once being bullied to tears at a meeting; it took me quite a while to get over that.

angry man

it’s even worse when these things happen on a consistent basis. being yelled at is a good example – i can’t tell you how many clients i’ve had who have told me that their supervisor raised his or her voice at them on a regular basis, like a few times a week.

consistently being asked to carry out a boss’s personal tasks and effectively being treated like a servant seems to be high on the list, too. (i once had a job where i was asked to take out the owner’s poodle. to this day i’m grateful i was fired from that job).

and the list goes on …

staying in these work situations is often like staying in a bad marriage. you try and try and try and it doesn’t get better. best case scenario, you learn to live with it. worst case scenario, you end up traumatized the same way people get traumatized by an abusive spouse. and i’d say that even the best case scenario is still pretty lousy.

how do you deal with the fallout, then? how do you get back your self confidence, enthusiasm and motivation so that you can look for better work, don’t go back to yet another bad experience and enjoy your next position?

we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

(image courtesy of orange_beard)
(this post appears in the carnival of life editing and  the december career and job advice blog carnival)

8 thoughts on “blog conversation: dealing with bad work experiences

  1. Nancy

    wow – what a great topic! Any way my blog can participate in this too?
    I really like the analogy of relationships and workplace experience. I’ve been lucky: in both instances I’ve had top-quality experiences (one particularly wonderful, respectful, loving relationship and also, one of my earliest employment positions – for the Federal Gov’t – modeled for me excellent supervision/teamwork) which set the standard for me. Now I KNOW what is possible, and in my own way, insist on it in any workplace.
    Workplaces, like relationships are also capable of learning, growth and development.

  2. isabella mori

    nancy, of course you can participate. the more the merrier! just link back to jacob and myself so that we can all keep track of the conversation.

    i think you’ve brought up an important topic – what your first work experience was like. it’s really similar to how we were brought up, isn’t it? if early in life we were surrounded by respect and love, we usually won’t stand for maltreatment later in life.

    it might just be that something similar holds true for work. i, too, have had a very good first work experience, and that has definitely shaped me.

  3. Lowell Ann Fuglsang

    I hope the thoughts of a career coach might be of some value here…so here goes.

    I found your examples brought back some memories that I haven’t thought of for years. While working in a hairdressing salon, my boss would get very stressed out on the really busy days and would throw brushes and yell at the junior members of the team. When I could no longer take this abuse, I waited till the end of the day, asked to speak to him privately and informed him politely that if he ever yelled at me in front of a customer again, I would find my coat and walk out immediately. He apologized profusely and never did it again.

    Sometimes a negative experience in youth can also shape how we work and act in the workplace later in life. As in “I would never want to make someone feel the way I felt……”

    On reflectingabout this experience from the past, it became evident to me that no matter how old we are or what type of relationships we are in, it’s so important for us set boundaries over which others may not step.

  4. isabella mori

    thanks for your comment, lowell ann!

    that story about telling your boss about the consequences if he’d ever did that to you again is very inspiring. talk about boundaries!

    i think that’s a very important part of boundaries – not just saying “these are my boundaries” but also letting people know what happens if they do overstep them.

  5. Griotte

    In the overdeveloped “West” (Europe/North America) workplaces are the primary place where people of colour encounter both the power and destructiveness of so-called white supremacy & racism.

    When it comes to citizens of colour, the Western societies do not practice the “liberal democracy” citizenship propaganda they preach. In fact they’ve always preferred immigrants – not because they care about the migrants but because they provide a HUMAN BUFFER GROUP(s) against addressing the longstanding rightful claims of those of us permanently marginalised in our home countries.

    Extremely often (local) people of colour – and almost regardless of advanced education – simply are not hired except in low-level, temporary and/or menial jobs. No government bothers any more to measure HOW MANY people of colour – and our actual ethnic backgrounds – apply for jobs: how many are hired vs. numbers rejected out of hand.

    Significant numbers of us know of relatives who were murdered on their jobs, all because a white person or persons coveted the job itself.

    When was the last time anyone really heard of the U.S. EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) vigorously prosecuting race and race+ gender job discrimination?? By and large, people of colour are totally shut out and un/der/employed.

  6. isabella mori

    i live in vancouver, one of the most multicultural places of the world. i honestly cannot think of an instance right now of racial discrimination in vancouver. however, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    over the last few years i have heard awful stories of the lives of people of colour in germany, my home country. people never walking alone at night, or taking cabs everywhere they go, because of fear they will get hurt, or worse. i’m sure this must extend to work.

    so – a question, griotte: if you have experienced racial discrimination at work, how did you deal with it?

  7. Pingback: The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Avoid an Abusive Workplace | JobMob

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