By Justin Kerr


Revenge? Cry? Complain? Talk sh*t? Give up? What's the right move when someone screws you over at work? MR CORPO shares his perspective from his personal experience and explains what someone told him 10 years ago that changed everything.



What To Do If You Get Screwed At Work

JUSTIN: I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar's chair, full of broken thoughts I cannot repair. Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear. You are someone else, and I am still right here.


(Intro music)


JUSTIN: Hello, and welcome to today's Mr. Corpo podcast. The topic for today is: what to do if someone totally screws you at work. This topic is incredibly important to me, because about ten years ago, I attended a lecture at Gap, Inc with a special guest speaker who addressed this topic in such a way that it changed the direction of my life at work and also outside of work. Now, I apologize that I don't remember the exact speaker's name, but if anyone listening can tell me, please do so, because I would love to set the record straight. But alright, enough context. Let's get to work.




JUSTIN: I want you to think about a time you got totally screwed over. It can be big, it can be small, it can be today, it can be last week, it can be last year, it can be three years ago, I don't care. We all have that thing that we carry with us, no matter how long it's been, it still bothers us. I want you to think about that time you got totally screwed, and I want you to describe it to me. I want you to tell me every single detail. Every aspect. I want you to tell me exactly what happened. I want you to tell me who was involved, and why it made you mad. Don't leave out anything.


Okay. Did you find that moment? Was there something that came to mind immediately/ Was there that one time where you totally, really, truly got screwed over? Or are there a ton of those times? Is there one person who always keeps trying to screw you over? Is there someone who just seems to have it out you? My point is, you've found your moment. You've figured out who to blame. You've described every detail. You've perfectly positioned yourself as the victim.


And therein lies the problem. You are the victim. You've allowed yourself to be negatively affected by someone else's actions. In fact, I would guess that you've almost basked in the glory of being screwed over. You've shared this story with other people, you've bragged about it, you've carried this injustice with you like a badge of honor. Does that sound about right? After all, I just asked you if you'd ever been screwed over, and you're still thinking about that thing that happened to you six months ago. So yeah, you're the victim. You're carrying this with you.


But let me tell you, if you're hoping that I'm gonna explain to you how to get even with this person, you're gonna be severely disappointed with this episode. I don't think you should be looking for revenge. I don't think you should be blaming other people. I think you should take responsibility for the situation. And this is the critical point: you can either play the victim, or you can take responsibility.


In this exercise, by asking you to describe in excruciating detail a time when you got totally screwed over, we invited you to play the victim. And it was easy. It was almost fun. Blame everyone else, it's not your fault, you were the victim. But what I want you to do now is, I want you to tell me the same story, I want you to tell me the same situation, I want you to include every single detail, but I want you to take responsibility for what happened.


What did you do that contributed to the situation? What could you have done differently to have avoided this situation? What specific steps would you change in order to create a different outcome? The choice is yours: you can either go through life as a victim, or you can go through life as someone who's willing to take responsibility for their mistakes, learn from their past experiences, and ultimately, take control of your own life.


Now, look. Of course there's gonna be things that happen to you at work which you don't like. Of course other people may try and screw you over. It is going to happen. People are gonna try and screw you over. Or you may in fact get screwed over. 05:03 So the only choice you have is: how are you going to experience it? Are you going to experience it as a victim and carry it with you, let it bother you, take it home with you, distract you from the things that are important, let someone else literally take up all your time and energy? Or are you gonna take responsibility? Are you gonna evaluate the situation, decide what you could have done differently, move on, be smarter, be wiser, and free yourself of the burden of being a victim? That's it. It's that simple.


So we started with this question of: what do you do when someone screwed you over at work? And I may have surprised you here with the answer, which is: you actually don't do anything to that person. You actually don't do anything to seek revenge. You look at yourself first and say, "What could I do different to avoid that situation?" Or, what do I need to say to that person in order to rectify that situation? You've got to take responsibility. That's what I want you to do if you get screwed over at work. And trust me, you're gonna get screwed over.


So let me make this real for you. I have to be honest, it's really not easy for me to think of a time when I got screwed. And the reason is, because for the last ten years, I really haven't been living in that world where I allow myself to experience what's happening at work in that way. But I wanna make an effort, I wanna try and show you an example of this, so I'm gonna reach deep down inside. I'm gonna try and think of sometime, somewhere, where I think I got screwed. And the truth is, you know what, I probably do get screwed at work. People are screwing me over. But I just don't experience it that way. And so even if something happens, I try and think, "Okay, what was my role in that? What could I have done differently, and how am I gonna fix it?"


So, the example that comes to mind, I'm not gonna tell you which company this is, just for political and my own well being. But let's say I was at this multinational company. I worked my ass off for a year. I did all the grunt work. I did all the dirty work. I got into work every day at 6am, and I was doing all the things that needed to get done. I was firing people, I was hiring people. I doing all the little things, the unpopular things. I was making the tough decisions, the things that were gonna set us up for success. And I was clearly articulating to everyone, this is gonna take a year, and we've gotta go through this process of cleaning everything up before we can fix things and move forward and ultimately start growing again.


So I spend a whole year -- I'm going all this work, back-breaking work. Into the office so early, working so hard, caring about every single person. And at the end, about the 11 month mark, I unceremoniously get kicked out of the business. I get sidelined. I get told, "You know what, we don't think you're doing a very good job. Why don't you move over here." And it was at this exact moment, at the exact moment all my hard work's about to pay off, I get kicked out. Now, I wasn't fired. I was just sidelined.


It was at this point that I was either going to be the victim, or I was going to take responsibility for what happened. If I was gonna go down the victim route, then it was an easy route. I could complain to everybody, say how unfair this is, plead my case, complain to everyone, kind of wear it as a badge of honor and say, "Yeah, I got screwed, right?" And talk trash about people behind their backs. And you all know how that would have gone, you know? And it would have felt good and other people would have said, "Yeah, Justin, you got screwed." And it would have reinforced my victimhood and it would have felt great for a moment.


But ultimately, where does that leave me, you know? I'm talking trash on everybody. And then ultimately I'm gonna have to leave the company. And maybe I don't want to do that, or I want to do that on my own terms. So rather than bemoaning my luck -- and trust me, there were moments when I went home and I laid there and didn't sleep at night. There were moments when it really stung, and it really hurt. So I want you to realize that. Just cause I say, "Don't get screwed" or "Don't try and get revenge" it doesn't mean you're not gonna get hurt. Things are gonna hurt. But you've got to figure out how you're gonna process them. Are you gonna process them by blaming other people, or are you gonna step up and claim responsibility?


In my case, I decided to look at it and I said, "How in the world did they get to a decision to kick me out of this business, to sideline me, if I'd been doing all of this hard work, and all of the right things, and it's starting to pay off?" And what I did when I looked at that is, I realized, I'd been working so hard with this immediate team and solving all these issues that I had stopped doing the important work of building relationships, managing up, and making sure I was bringing everyone on the journey with me. My team loved me. The people that saw me every day saw everything I was doing. But the higher ups, and the different people that sat in different countries, 10:02 they couldn't see all of that. They couldn't hear all of that.


And I remember, throughout that year, specific moments where I thought, "I probably should make that extra effort to stay up late and call someone," or, "If I'm visiting you in another place, I should go out to dinner and drinks with you so that we keep up that relationship and we stay connected." And I didn't do those things. I got overconfident that I'm in charge, if I just do a good job here they'll understand that, results will speak for themselves.


But ultimately, I didn't hold up my end of the bargain. And in that role, I not only needed to do the day-to-day, I also needed to be a leader and I good communicator outwards, and shockingly, when I look back on it, just got lazy on that front. And ultimately I can see now, that's why they sidelined me. They didn't see the people stuff. They didn't see all the great morale things that we had done to turn things around.


And ultimately, they made this decision. I still am allowed to not think it was the right decision. But I can accept it, figure out what I did wrong, and that allowed me to let go of it and just move on with my life. And so I guess that's an example I'll use of how I used this idea of victim versus being responsible to work through things that happen to you at work, and take a point of view that allows you to embrace it, look at it for what it is, learn from it, and then be better and go on with your life.


Alright, that took all of my effort to find some way, some reason, some experience that I've had where I thought, "You know what, I might have gotten screwed over right there." I hope that was helpful to make it real. Shoot me your examples in email. Hit me on Twitter. Whatever the case may be. In this case, I bet you'll probably want to send an email rather than Twitter, so everyone doesn't know about it. But hit me up. I'd love to hear your story, talk through it. And if you're struggling with something, let's work through it.


So I'll leave it there. That's what it means to take responsibility versus being a victim.


Let's throw it over to bonus section. Bonus section! Bonus section! Bonus section! Bo-bo-bo-bo-bonus section! Section!


Alright, hi everyone, and welcome to another bonus section of the Mr. Corpo podcast. We have a question, which is coming from our producer, Rob Schulte. Rob, ask your question.


ROB: Hello, Justin. Um, I feel like a lot of people start going, and when they know that they have Friday off, then they're checked out by Thursday. If they have Monday off, then Tuesday's now their Monday, so maybe they're not moving as fast. Is there something that people should do to still stay productive but also feel the benefits of not having those days they have to work?


JUSTIN: My whole philosophy is, if you're not at work, don't think about work. And if you're at work, get your work done as fast and efficiently as possible, so you can leave work as early as possible. So, I guess I don't have anything to say about holiday weekends, other than, take advantage of the situation. If you've got a Friday, Saturday, Sunday off for some reason, figure out how to take a half day on Thursday. And by the way, if you have Monday off, it's gonna be trickier because you can't really take Tuesday off cause that looks really bad.


But all I have to say is, take advantage of situations that are already pre-built-in for taking holidays. Because people won't begrudge you that. So for example, if Friday is gonna be off, figure out how to take Wednesday and Thursday off, and make it a super long week. It's already a feeling of, "This is a strange week, people are leaving the office early, we already have Friday off." So build in those extra days and take advantage of it.


Because there's no excuse for people not using all their vacation every year. It's a super dumb thing. Trust me. Corporate America doesn't care about you. They just want to get some work out of you. They're taking advantage of you. So take advantage of them. Take as many days off as possible. And especially try and sneak those extra couple hours early on holiday weekends. Take off at 2:00. Ask your boss. Say, "Hey, can I get out a little bit early? Cause I want to do X, Y, and Z." There's no boss in the world that's gonna say no to you. Ask nicely. Ask in advance. You're guaranteed to get the extra days off. And then you look like a hero to your friends, you get out of town, you beat the traffic, whatever the case may be.


Alright. Now I'm just rambling, but those are some quick, off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts on holiday weekends at work. Thanks for your question. And one last thing I just want to mention: the lyrics at the top of the show were from Johnny Cash, and the song "Hurt" which was originally written by Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. And Rob Schulte is on the producing end of things for the episode today. And as always, hit me at mrcorpopodcast@gmail.com if you have any questions in the work-related world. And otherwise, hit me at Twitter at Mr_Corpo. Thanks so much. Over and out.




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