This Isn’t Temping: How *not* to start the morning

In the pantheon of bad bosses, my current ones don’t figure prominently, most of the time. But this morning, I was given some “feedback” on a document I has drafted hastily last night. The joy of temping is that I don’t care about any of this work. But it doesn’t mean I am immune to comments like:

“So, this is a mess, obviously.”

In all honesty, sure, that is probably true. But also, I received this assignment at 4:00pm from someone who was too busy to offer any instructions. This is the third draft of this document, which I have created in letter form, in “graphical one-sheet” form, and in “info sheet” form.  And I am not a graphic designer. Ugh.

I really wish that in the workplace, it was possible to just call someone out for being unnecessarily rude. I would feel so much better if I could just say, “all of your feedback on this document is great, I feel like I have a much clearer picture of what you want from this document; your remark at the beginning of this meeting about the document being a mess was totally unnecessary and hurt my feelings.” But the majority of workplaces and managers do not welcome this kind of honesty.

I used to struggle with this problem constantly at work. I was often the person who took the “first stab” at large, difficult projects–of course they were going to be messy and bad. But we would at least have something to work from. I would be derided mercilessly, both to my face and behind my back, and then I would be told to praise the final outcome as “so much better” than my own first draft. There was one day in particular that I left early, rather than listen to my boss edit my work out loud on the phone with another colleague.

Now, I know I am too sensitive when it comes to this stuff. But I also think that 1) there is value is writing the first draft, and 2) being openly derisive of a subordinate’s work is completely unnecessary and erodes morale.

So, back to my document. Ugh. Friday.

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5 comments
  1. Totally agree. If everyone is hesitant to start the first draft because they’re scared to be ripped to shreds in front of bosses and coworkers then nothing is going to get done. Progress can’t be made unless there’s an environment of collaboration and acknowledgement of effort.

    • Exactly! If the editing process is treated like an arena to bash people, nothing productive will ever result, specially in projects that require massive amounts of information and input from a variety of sources. But that is true of any project. Writing is so sensitive, because there are such strong opinions about good and bad writing, and being thought of as a bad writer is harsh criticism that can have a negative impact on your career.

    • Also, if you are by any chance looking for jobs in the nonprofit arts in new York, I saw a listing that made me think of you, katiiisays! Let me know if you’d like me to send the link.

      • Aw shucks, I’m honored! I appreciate you thinking of me but I’m in Charlotte, NC and will be for the next couple years until my boyfriend finishes up his engineering degree. But thanks!

      • Right on! North Carolina is lovely. Good luck!

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