A workplace tell all – well – not really.

I was watching this weeks episode of Mad Men this morning and it started making me angry.


To the point where I kept picking up the remote to fast forward through certain parts. Being me, I of course had to over analyze this. Too many scenes hit too close to home or in this case work. I have been working since I was 16. For 75% of that time I have worked in places dominated by men. Some of that was very good, some of that was very bad. Because I am so old, and have been working for so long I have also worked with every different personality type, some of them were also very good, and some very bad.

Here are some of the lessons I learned in 35 years of working.

Things are slowly getting better but it is still a male dominated world

If you are someone who is generally nice you will be assumed to be easily coerced and it is acceptable to be rude to you  – just for the record if you have worked with me in the past and have memories of someone who was truly nasty to me – I also want you to remember how long they worked there afterward.

Creepy Men in power still believe that they can get away with sexual harassment – AND ALL TOO FREQUENTLY can because women don’t speak up until it gets too bad. For any young woman who happens to stumble across this – It’s not your fault if it happens – but it is your fault if you don’t say or do something the first time. If a man is behaving inappropriately in any way shape or form  – say something right then and right there. Treat him exactly like you would any other equal of yours. You don’t have to stand up and scream bloody murder because your boss brushed up against your chest – pretending it was an accident and he didn’t even notice – just say “hey – your a little close there – back off.” If it was an accident, then they will. If it wasn’t an accident – they will. Don’t put up with that shit.

If you are not loud and bitching about your work – people assume you aren’t doing any work. Even in the best places I’ve worked this has held true. Because I didn’t walk around saying how overworked I was or loudly extolling my own accomplishments it was frequently assumed I didn’t actually do any work. I tried never to change this part of my personality because I just didn’t want to be this person. But it cost me a lot of money and respect. On more than one occasion bosses that I liked and respected overlooked me in favor of people doing far less, or people who were literally stealing from them, because those people loudly complained about everything and they were seen as tough – and hard workers. Even people who were co-workers in other areas of the company and not involved in my day to day work would think I did nothing. One who I still speak to and actually like actually said something about it once. I was actually OPERATIONS MANAGER at the time. Idiot.

You have to speak up for yourself and you have to have lines you will not cross. Every time I finally had enough of something and stated what I expected  – I got it. No wishy washy – “I think maybe I might want”. State your case – then stop talking.  Why in the world would you put up with people treating you bad or giving you less than you deserve?

If you want to advance and you have ambition – you better learn right now how to take command of a situation. You must make decisions quickly and correctly and stand behind them. Know what you’re talking about, learn everything and then the decisions you have to make quickly will probably be right. If they are not, so what. Everyone makes mistakes, say “oh shit” once, and move on. Don’t keep apologizing, don’t keep bringing it up.  Just move on to the next thing. Some people become VP’s and make bad decisions all the time. They just do it with absolute confidence and self assurance.

If you want to work in male dominated industry you better learn how to work/act/talk like a man. No giggling, flirting, or little girl talk. GAG.

Sorry US – the Swedes are far more advanced than us in this whole gender thing. Not perfect, but way way better.

Oh – and just in case anyone I ever worked with in the past read this  – if you read this and think – hmmmm – is she talking about me? Don’t ask me unless you really want to know. These days I have much less tolerance for it all and depending on the day I can be pretty brutally honest.




10 thoughts on “A workplace tell all – well – not really.

  1. Man… I remember in my early days of Aptilo having a conversation with Mike about our similarity to The IT Crowd and comparing you to Jen because you took care of most of the stuff requiring non-IT knowledge. And then a few days later realizing “Wait that’s actually really insulting, Tracy knows her shit and we’re comparing her to someone who specifically doesn’t.” Then whenever the comparison came back up in conversation again I would make the same comparison again before going “Wait! No! Idiot! You had this realization already! Stop it!” and sort of mumbling a retraction or adding “but much smarter!” as though that fixed it… So… Sorry about that.

    And I definitely see what you mean about people assuming you aren’t doing any work if you don’t complain about it. Even after five years I couldn’t give you a list of the things you did aside from billing stuff because you quietly took care of everything that needed to be done. I also could never remember your official title, and mentally thought of you as “The Fixer” (as in someone who solves problems, not the urban dictionary definition… which is apparently a drug dealer?) so there’s a good chance that I am that idiot… So… Sorry about that too.

  2. i was thinking fixer ….Olivia Pope…
    Excellent….women have to think logically instead of emotionally and have the biggest balls! I worked with cops for 30 years. Everything you said is true….we are leaders as soon as we know we can be leaders!

  3. Three words: I salute you! Three more words: Best post ever!

    I have always seen you as a forerunner and someone who leads from the front, so to say. Your management style was always – as far as I could see – very clear in that respect that your collegues knew where they had you and that you ALWAYS – no matter what – stood behind your crew. That inspires respect.

    Now – me being a swede and always “looking in from another angle” always had the feeling that you would do very good in the Stockholm office. And I would have loved to have you as my manager.

    As always – with the greatest respect and lots of love.
    /(Your fan) Lt. Varn.


    1. Jesper – if I ever try to get another job (don’t hold your breath) i am going to copy your comment and use it as a reference.

  4. I really wish that I had an older woman looking out for me when I first started working. I didn’t know what sexual harassment was and I was really naive. My first boss was being sued for sexual harassment and he was worried I was going to be called as a witness. He took me to the back of the store and we had this really awkward conversation. He was trying to determine if I believed that he sexually harassed me without actually saying that. I just knew he was my boss and that I ought not to say anything to upset him. As it turns out, I wasn’t called to testify. There were two older ladies who worked with me. They should have helped me.

    So he never actually propositioned me but there always was a weird vibe with him. I mentioned this to boyfriend. He didn’t live nearby so he never picked me up from work but decided he ought to show his face to clarify things for my boss. One of the weirdest things I have ever seen is when this boss, an old, out of shape guy, shook hands with my young, strong athletic boyfriend. The boss actually tried to squeeze my bfs hand. It was weird and obvious to all who were watching and my bf showed him who was the stronger man. Ha ha ha!

    I had another older boss who was weirdly inappropriate at the office. He actually unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants and dropped them down to tuck his shirt in while standing in front of me. I can still picture him in his tighty whiteys. Fortunately, he saved his hitting on behavior for another woman who loved the attention. That was really icky to see.

    1. OMG MB that would be site to see! I think it is important that people look out for each other in the workplace, it can get so bad.

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