Last week I was honored to be asked by Melanie Davis, Executive Director of the Adcraft Club, to serve as a “storyteller” at an event in Ferndale where participants were asked to detail embarrassing moments in the workplace. When she first made the request, it all seemed simple enough; yet, as I gave it more thought I realized that narrowing my story down to just one incident was going to be a major challenge.
After all, as a former disk jockey, journalist and public relations professional, I have experienced my fair share of uncomfortable if not disturbing moments, including those inflicted by colleagues on others. A phone thrown at a co-worker, being belittled in front of clients, being yelled at in front of colleagues, having my family’s insurance shut off without notice, viewing executive in-office tantrums entailing the picking of fights and destruction of company assets.
It is interesting that when we take an inventory of such “blasts from the past” we realize what a lasting impression such incidents make. To be sure, when they occur it is almost like watching a movie – you can’t believe the situation is actually taking place in a supposedly civilized world! Forgiving (including coming to the realization that the perpetuators of such events are weak and insecure if not sick) is possible but forgetting is another thing altogether. One does move on, however, with lessons learned and a roadmap for the right way to treat people.
By the way, I chose to describe to eventgoers a more positive but at the time embarrassing experience: a guerilla PR stunt for one of the world’s largest OEMs in the desert of Roswell that went slightly awry. Luckily that event was carried out with teammates who were true professionals (thus, when elements went wrong there was no yelling or belittling or finger pointing) and remains a memory I’ll always remember – in a good way.