“Tessa! I need to talk to you!” I said as I walked up to my “manager”. 1 minute later we walked in silence to the open area behind some privacy walls away from my peers. Our in-house lawyer clicked quietly away on her laptop just a few feet away pretending not to notice and the Executive Assistant, (whom I affectional called my “work mom”) glanced over then quickly looked away. The Body Language Expert the company hired to prepare us for our public debut in just 1 month sat just one wall over looking up at us over his laptop. We locked eyes and it was in that instant that he knew and I knew I was about to explode! Prepare the fan!
Karen was demure and meek. Even dare I say it, quiet but once you got to know her she was talkative, loved to laugh and had an intelligent opinion about everything. Not to mention she was tall like me. It was awesome. She and I were managing the same city zone so we worked closely with one another on a daily basis. My favourite phrase for Karen was “Get it together Kare!” LOL She always laughed and so did I. It helped ease the tension resulting from the constant lies, derailments, lack of direction and info from Tessa. It was maddening and we all were feeling it. I dealt with it from the comforts of my bliss bubble. Nothing bothered me. I joked with our Regional Manager, and assured Karen that it would all be ok and we will work it out together. I believed everything I said to her but Karen didn’t. And I didn’t blame her. Logically speaking nothing around us said everything was going to be ok. Logically speaking everything was a mess, the stakes were high we all pictured the media fiasco that would result from us not having what we needed to prevent this from becoming a scandal. No matter where we turned for the info…it was no where to be found except in bits and pieces of Tessa’s lies.
Karen started to miss work which was out of character for her and when she did manage to come in she looked like she was about to pass out. Her tan skin was beginning to look grey. Her hair limp and her eyes very bloodshot. She confessed to throwing up and even passing out right before she’d come into work. We were scared for her but she didn’t want to take time off because we were down to the wire and so much still needed to be done. She was a nervous wreck. Her stress was taking over and affecting her health. I couldn’t lose my team mate and counterpart but she needed to rest. Then it happened. Our Regional Manager up and quit. At that point i realized he was a big part of my peace in that place because he didn’t freak out about anything. So when he left suddenly to pursue a better opportunity Karen, who was already frail didn’t take it well and just like that my Bliss Bubble officially broke! What the hell were we going to do now?
For the longest time I avoided confrontation. Even if I knew I had to speak up and everything in me told me to I wouldn’t. I didn’t want to be seen as that girl who wilds out or loses her cool. I enjoyed my composure. For a long time I had even perfected the neutral face so no one knew how I really felt about something but this job was quickly eroding that away! First to go was my neutral face. Next my ability to sleep, then my temper. Fast forward to our talk behind the privacy wall.
“Tessa, I want to talk to you about the………”
“Ok” she said taking a deep breath.
“Is it ready as yet? When can we receive it because as you know all these other decisions are hinging on the info that we can’t complete without it?”
She stared at me then adjusted her stance and began to tell me its been ready for a while but needed revisions. Its been what? So you lied to us this entire time and blamed upper management for holding it up. Going on and on about how it’s their fault that she doesn’t have the info to share. But be patient she’d assure us, “Its coming!”. But you had it this whole time? I listened in silent anger then repeated to her why it was important for us to know so we could finalize our next steps which hinged on this crucial information. Cornered, she tried to back track, she tried to wiggle out of the fact that she was sitting on this info while simultaneously pushing us to complete tasks that hinged on it. I pulled her card and told her that it seemed as if she was doing it intentionally so we could commit to schedules that over extended us without having all the real facts. She stumbled. She denied then blamed me and my peers. Thats when I lost it!
The Body Language expert immediately got up to “go get coffee”. I layed into her and she tried to lay in back but she was no match for me because I had facts, she had lies. I let her have it and told her how she is causing us undue stress by lying and withholding this info then I waited for her to respond. She lied again but this time about not sitting on the info. I reminded her that she just admitted to having the info this whole time. She stumbled tried to back track again then conceded defeat. She told me she’d send it to me and only to me to look over asking if I could use my expertise to help finalize it. Tessa is 6′ Feet tall. I’m 5’8.5 about 5’10 in heels.
I’ve never spoken up for myself to management like that before ever. I always wanted to be professional at work but outside of work if you pushed me enough I’d speak up. Now, I was speaking up to everyone!
While I was doing introspective work and praying I felt this feeling deep down in my gut that one of the things I needed to change was my avoidance of confrontation. My friends told me and so did my family but I was scared. I didn’t want people to be unhappy with me. I wanted their validation and acceptance even at the hands of their disrespect. Thats not what God wanted for me. I see that now. A few times while I prayed it was a task that would come to me; you must begin to stand up for yourself. Stop running. Well, with God I’ve learned that if He asks you to do something and you run from it He will bring it right to you i.e Jonah and the whale. Tessa and this new job description was my whale and I had no where to run anymore.
We walked off and as I walked back to my desk my peers gathered around me and in hushed whispers asked what the hell just happened out there. Honestly, I didn’t know. All I knew was that what I said was a long time coming and I felt a huge sense of relief from it. I didn’t quite know what the outcome would be but whatever it was I was going to face it no matter what. That was the beginning of the end of avoiding confrontation. Now I no longer feared it. I still didn’t like it but if I needed to be addressed I was on it!
10 minutes later and the “missing” information was in my inbox. Tessa came over right away and asked me to sit with her so we could go over it. She was calm, even eerily pleasant. I didn’t look her in the eyes till I was about to get up but when I did I saw fear and a new found awareness on her part. The game had changed for her and now she knew exactly where I stood.
In the coming 3 weeks (till show time), we butted heads once more. Why? Cause of her lies. She tried to get HR and 2 directors involved and they all sided with me. She was livid and stomped off to cry it out and lie about it to a comforting ear on our team. I waited for the day that he realized exactly who she was. We all waited. Finally that day came. What else was new tho? Just so you know it wasn’t just me she butted heads with. She had a few major showdowns with the Lead Analyst and a few more with my peers on more than 1 occasion. Work was a war zone. Not only did she know where we stood, we knew where she stood too. To say it was a tense work environment is an understatement. At one point I think she started going to the gym not to tone up but so she could defend herself just in case we decided to wait for her in the parking lot. She was right.
I found my voice. Good thing because I was going to have to use it a lot more after July 1st but this time I was ready!
Next Post Nov 12th.