Mr. wOw: Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You

It’s never too late to be reminded of the golden rule — especially when it comes to working relationships

The other day Mr. wOw was lower than a snake. He was full of self-pity and regret and wondering (as Helen Lawson did in “Valley of the Dolls” — “what the hell happened?!”)

He was at work, and alas, his boss for whom he has been toiling nigh on thirty years, was feeling pretty crappy too. Mr. wOw’s boss also has regrets and bad days and wondering just what the hell happened. And his boss tends to be wildly impatient even in the best of times. So, these are not the best of times.

Usually, I can rise above it, make the best of it, make it better — you get more flies with honey, etc. After all, I don’t work in a Chilean mine or a Japanese nuclear plant.I have a wonderful boyfriend (the incredible Mr. B.) and a few cherished friends. I still have all my teeth (except for the wisdom teeth, and I was never sure why I even had wisdom teeth. I have not been very wise.) And my boss is an excellent egg, when not being hard-boiled by life and circumstance.

But on this day, so burdened by my own cares and woes — unable to pack them up – I decided to give as good as I was getting. It was just misery. My boss snapped and I snapped back. To and fro and this way and that. Neither of us addressed the issue, we both just continued being mean. It was my place, as the employee (and old friend to my boss) to end it. Put up, shut up – both, really! But I wouldn’t. I was wallowing in my regrets and resentments.

The day ended with curt goodbyes. I felt like shit. And not anymore because I was unhappy over what I had or hadn’t done in life, or how or why my boss figured into what were, after all, my own decisions. Nope. I felt really bad that I had behaved so badly. That I hadn’t taken into account it was an especially grueling day for my boss. That I hadn’t been kinder, more compassionate, more patient, more respectful. That I had not treated my boss just as I would want to be treated, if the circumstances were reversed.

I thought long and hard about my woeful performance. Sure, I’d done my job, and done it well that day, despite the tension. But I wasn’t proud. I’d lost the reins of a situation I could have put right early in the day. At the very least I could have controlled myself until I reached home, to unload on the hapless B. He has had almost thirty years of the same work tale from me — “I can’t go on, I can’t take it, I am losing my mind!” The usual stuff when one actually has to more or less punch in and be told what to do. That’s life. Though my job affords me many more compensations and pleasures than most.

I could have let it go. My boss is not the grudge-bearing type. We were on to another day. But I felt I ought to apologize. Just because I’d have liked an apology if I’d been on the other end my nasty ways that day. And so I did apologize.

I felt much better. My boss was grateful. Tomorrow could be hell again. (Today hasn’t been so great, to be honest.) But even at this point in life, I hope I’ve had a bit of a lesson in how to deal with people. Even when that people is my boss who is also a friend. It’s kinda crazy, my situation.

But in knowing that, I need to call on my better nature, such as it is.

Now I need to work on being nicer to B. He’s always very nice to me.

22 comments so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    Mr. Wow, in my experience, more people would prefer to hold the grudge and blame the boss, so the fact that you actually felt bad about the incident (a conscience!) and later apologized (moral courage!), puts you right up at the top of most-desirable co-workers / employees in my book.

    Everyone has bad moments. It’s what we do about it later that separates the petulant children from the actual adults.

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    We all lose it from time to time.  My thing is hanging up on people.  I will still send notes, birthday cards, ask about them. But never call and apologize for hanging up on them.  They want to call back, they can. Amazingly none do. They send notes back, birthday cards, ask about me. But never call back. I’m the one owed the apology.  And I suspect they know it. Which is why they never call back.
     
    I’ve always worked for myself.  But with a real estate license, well, you can move around. So if the broker gets to be too much you move around. Most move around a lot.  Same with non-profit work. Thems that can get the gold makes the rules. My rules have always been. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and without that, forget it. I gave my time, and my Rolodex, to many organizations so they got “double the bucks” so to speak.  So I asked only not to be pulled into the various Machiavellian politics that exist in non-profit.  Or to raise money for someone’s new BMW.

    I say none ever called back but one did. The fights. Oy. She would hang up on me as well. IN fact she’s the only one who ever did. Perhaps the only one who ever dared to. Soemtimes I needed to be hung up on. We all do I suppose. But, well, one of us would need something. Usually for a non-profit. And so we would pick up the phone and pick up where we left off before one of us hung up on the other. And never apologized for doing so either.  Don’t know about love but friendship means never having to say you’re sorry.  I can’t believe I said that. Oh, well, it’s true.

    I’m very envious of you.  A long-term love and a long-term employer.  Both of whom obviously adore you. And who you obviously adore. “How lucky can you get?”

  3. avatar Richard Bassett says:


    I am a bit uncertain if your post has to do with bad days or relating to your employer. Both, I suspect. As I tell everyone, the only way that someone knows that you are having a bad day is if you tell them. Especially if you are working closely with someone. Even if that someone is your employer. Complications in life should never boil over into the workplace. And with this ‘bad day’, there is no need to go into details unless you have that that type of relationship with your employer. Now, some say the opposite: ‘leave your problems at home, and come into work to work.’ Like all things in life, it is a little bit of both but by confessing your mood first may allow others to compensate. Giving you space, or limiting their conversation with you or some other neutral reaction. Now, as your example, if BOTH you and your boss are having bad moods…then the interaction looks like something that you see in a situation comedy series. But I still believe, if needed, allow the condition of your present attitude be known so no one says: “Did I do something to make you mad at me?” Get there first before that question has a chance to be asked. It should never come to the level of having to apologize to your employer. If you must, it is uncomfortable and lines are blurred as you feel that you must explain, in depth. And, of course, everything depends on your relationship with your employer/co-worker initially. Do not hold your emotions in because they will come out through other ways in the course of the day. Leaving work with a bad taste in your mouth just spills into your personal life. Bringing your emotions home causes a different dynamic. You can really be grouchy and when your partner says: ‘How was your day, honey?” You can vent and vent and vent and have dinner (or sex).

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Richard…both.

      Sometimes the longer and more intimate the relationship is (personal or profesisonal) the more difficult it is to be ever so polite and ask, “have I done something to make you mad?”  In this case, I hadn’t, and asking that question would have inflamed the situation.  It was my job, my place, to simply stay calm and not be irksome and combative myself. 

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:


        Even more reason to ask. The “Did I do something that made you mad?” is aimed at employees (or even an employer) who does not know you very well. They are most likely to be confused and a simple, “No” is the appropriate answer. But a longer, intimate relationship…one who knows you, and knows that they haven’t done anything to displease you…have a degree of permission to ask: “Why are you in a bad mood?”, if you haven’t told them that yet. They know your life, your plans, and ‘this is going to be continued on the next day’….issues. But it really depends on the relationship itself. I’ve been in both. One was strictly work related and opened to any discussion that had to do with work, and one where boundaries were crossed and a mutual ‘friendship’ (though maybe unsaid) was implied…employer or employee. Some people just click beyond the parameters of the ‘work relationship’. But if people are just being grouchy at each other all day, stress builds and clarification is most definitely needed. And inconsistency needs to be addressed, as well. One day you are my friend…one day you are my employee…just doesn’t cut it. Your job is to be a human being.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Richard…every relationship is different.  “Why are you in such a bad mood?” wouldn’t cut it in my particular situation. 

        It is my job to be as professional as possible, even with an employer of 30 years. 

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

        …every relationship is different.

        Well if it works for you, Mr WoW, and has worked for thirty years, only you know the dynamic. I just happen to believe in the title of this post and make certain that it happens….personally or professionally. We teach people how to treat us, but not without treating them the same. Again, personally or professionally.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Some positions in life require knowing the position within the position so to speak and years ago a broker asked  why I didn”t come to work for her. “You want to start World War III during a sales meeting?”  This followed her comment on my comment at a party a year or  two earlier about my having scruples that I should see a dermatologist. I let it go but I suspect she looked up scruples later. And so understood the comment about World War III.  A lovely lady.  But also, well, a lawnmower as they say. Been there, did it with another broker who got hung up on. Of cousre I remembered what she’d forgotten. My license was with another broker. The one who owned her company. Who really threw gasoline on the fire when he refused to return my license as she made the mistake of demanding. So I do know what you are referring to, Mr. Wow, in terms of acting rofessional. I just try to avoid situations where I have to.

        Not all employer-employee relationships are “peer relationships” so one must know the “pecking order” and be careful not to peck, or plucjk, out of place.

  4. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Yet another example of why I appreciate you so much. You did the right thing in the end and felt better because of it. I wouldn’t have expected any less from my beloved Mr. Wow.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Belinda…well, I did the right thing this time.  I don’t always, that’s for sure.   Mr. Wow, like Emerson, believes that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. 

      How are you?

      • avatar Belinda Joy says:

        Life is good, thanks for asking. Busy as ever, trying to have more balance. You know I always enjoy reading your perspective on issues, so I stop by from time to time. This particular post caught my attention right away because of the title. It is what I try to live by but woefully fall short of most of the time. :-D

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Belinda…so do I!  I wrote this an official reminder to myself.  Get it together, Mr.

  5. avatar Karen Ferguson says:

    Boy, you write well. Consistently. Whether I agree with you or not. You always tell a graceful, thoughtful and thought provoking story.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Karen…given I think so little of myself and my “talent” I thank you.  Very much.

  6. avatar D C says:

    My goodness.  30 years.  I’m a member of the 5 years and you’re out club.  My current employer I can do that with and stay in the corporation — I can move every 12 months and still work here 30 years and not do the same job twice.  Wish I’d found this place 30 years ago.

    I worked for a boss for 3 years that used to use assistants for toilet paper.  (That may be a bit of an exaggeration.)  Everyone was amazed at how I handled her, and how she told me as I turned in my resignation, that if I changed my mind she’d hire me back in a second. 

    Oscar-worthy acting skills come in handy in many professions — not just movies.  If I walked by that woman on the street and she was on fire, I wouldn’t spit on her.  But she’d hire ME back in a second.

    30 years.  I bet you’re a really good actor.  You just had an off day. 

  7. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear DC…about three years into my current and ongoing working life, I pitched  a little fit–I railed against some perceived injustice.  I tossed (my then) volumious mane.  Things had to change, I said.  I might have even stamped my foot. 

    My boss surveyed me with a cool eye.  “Mr. Wow, I am not going to change.  This is the way I do business.  It is you you who must change to accomodate me.  If you want to work here.”   Well, I did want  to work.  And I took this advice to heart.  I lived by it for quite a few years.  But who knew it would stretch to 30 years?!  So, I find myself more fitful than I once was. 

    But I still remember that conversation.  It helped me then and reminds me now–Mr. Wow, you are not the boss, no matter how much you think you know.  If you knew so much, why aren’t you somebody else’s  boss? 

    My acting skills are iffy.  When I’m happy the world is happy.  When I’m in a bad mood, it’s the fucking apocalypse.  A depressed Mr. Wow could drive Julie Andrews to strong drink.

  8. avatar Daniel Sugar says:

    Have you ever thought about writing a novel? (I think it might be just the medicine for you, Mr.)

  9. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Daniel…I’ve thought of writing a novel  Just as I’ve thought about a lot of other things.  But discipline and motivation are required.  And I can’t ever seem to muster up enough of either to get my head out of ass. 

    But…never say never. 
    At fifteen I vowed I’d never drink, take drugs or behave the way I saw my new Manhattan friends behave. (All that obvious carrying on.)   So, sure. I might write a book. 
     

  10. avatar Daniel Sugar says:

    I hope you do write it all down – your stories are interesting.

  11. avatar crystalclear says:

    Start slow, Mr. Wow, but, indeed, get it down on paper.   Write two paragraphs a day and more if you’re feeling inspired to do so.   You sound as though you’ve lived a very interesting life both outwardly and inwardly….it’s the “inward” that sounds fascinating as you have witnessed your life as no one else can.   Writing from a gay man’s perspective and especially having a serious partner for the past 30 years must have produced interesting situations, joy and pain, your view of straight people from a position of not being one, the work place, social settings, etc. are vast. 

    Write in down.   There’s a story in all of us, however, from my brief membership here, even I recognize that you have something very special inside of you.   We want to read about it in a block buster book.

    Are you up for it?  

  12. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Crystal…perhaps I am going semi-chapter by semi-chapter here.  However, some of my chapters are considered too shocking to be a part of WoW.  (Do you think anything I’d have to say would be truly shocking?  I haven’t stolen from helpless old ladies  or killed anyone!)

    So…maybe a book is in order.  

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      Mr WoW,

      I definitely hear you. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I couldn’t possibly he honest in writing a story about my life. And, believe me, there is a story there.  Like Elizabeth Taylor said, “I am still living chapters”… but the chapters I have already lived, thus far, wouldn’t be in my best interest to disclose. Stealing from helpless old ladies or killing someone would be a welcomed break. Sometimes, one just has TOO much information, and by hook or by crook, should be taken with you, to the grave….since is where you would most likely end up if such a book were to be published.