I Got Fired. Again.

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Dear Robin:

I am a 35 year old mother to one child.  I work in sales and have since college.  I really enjoy the work and even though I was let go a month ago I know I’ll be able to find something else soon.

My problem is my husband, who was upset when I lost my job and seems angry at me.  My boss was a total ass and fired me for being “disrespectful” even though I was the best member of the team.  I have had really bad luck for the past several years and keep picking the wrong company and end up working for jerks.

I’d like to show my husband your blog so can you answer this: how do I make him understand that my unemployment is temporary and that he needs to be more supportive and less judgmental about my past few job experiences?  We are both big fans, by the way!

-P.K.

Dear P.K.:

I’m sorry to hear about your job loss.

Unknown

Being fired is one of the most humiliating and humbling experiences of life.  Or so I’ve heard…

We messaged to and fro yesterday and you answered some tough questions I put before you, so thank you for your honesty and willingness to share information on what has been a rocky few years.  Readers, here are the facts:

1. P.K. has been working in her field for 12 years.  In that time, she has had 7 employers.

2. With the exception of one bona-fide layoff, P.K. has been terminated from each position for cause.  The usual reasons include: inability to play nice with others, chronic absenteeism and an extreme disrespect for authority that usually takes the form of talking smack to her bosses.  Her most recent firing was the result of P.K. instructing her boss to embark upon a technically impossible but colorfully described physical act (use your imagination).

3. She is very good at sales.

4. She claims that 6 of the 7 companies were “shitty places run by shitty management.”

5. P.K. and her husband earn roughly the same income, so when she is unemployed the household suffers a major financial setback, although happily they have been careful to save for these now-predictable rainy days/weeks/months that keep popping up when P.K. is in-between jobs.

P.K., while I am sorry you are going through a tough time right now, I giggled with glee when I got your letter because there is not one person on this planet who is more qualified to advise you than I am.  Not one!

I hope you are ready for some uncomfortable truths and will take what I say to heart as you seek to straighten out your employment situation.

truth--the truth wil set you free, but first it will piss you off

Your employment issues stem from your own obstreperous, confrontational and fiercely independent nature, not the bad luck to which you attribute your repeated subjection to horrible bosses.

If I take what you told me at face value, you are a real rainmaker.  You are very talented at selling and your numbers have made you the envy of many a co-worker. You have won awards and received large bonuses based upon your ability to convince people to buy whatever it is you are selling.  You, my friend, are a sales superstar!

That sounds like good news, right?

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The fact that you keep losing jobs despite your sales acumen means that you are so horrible to work with your employers would rather see you and your fantastic numbers trot on out the door rather than profit from your skills.  That’s pretty telling stuff.

So what’s going on here?  From our conversations I can tell you are one of those people who usually feels they are the smartest person in the room.  Oh boy – I can relate!  I too feel this way, which may explain why I am usually the only person in the room…other people don’t like being made to feel intellectually inferior.  That’s OK, because then I truly am the smartest person in the room!  Win/win!

You also take your amazing sales results and transform them into justification for calling in sick and showing up late, because you feel once you have exceeded your goals you shouldn’t have to be in the office along with the lame-ass co-workers who aren’t as good at the job as you are.

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Unfortunately, your bosses and co-workers don’t see it that way, and while your co-workers may simply resent you for your suspicious tan that always follows a flu, your superiors will fire you after one too many missed days (usually Fridays and Mondays, you silly twit).

Your problem isn’t your husband and how I can help him be more supportive of you, your problem is you.  I know this for certain, because my problem is me!  While it is true I have had some fantastically horrible bosses, it is also true that my attitude in my former positions was not always the best.*

It took a good deal of navel-gazing for me to accept that the reason I had not stayed at any one company for longer than 3 1/2 years was because of my propensity to crap all over some really fine positions.  Big salary, nice office and generous benefits? Why sure, I’ll take that!  And then I’ll self-immolate, thank you very much!

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The underlying problem that I didn’t understand for almost 16 years post-law school was that I did not enjoy the practice of law.  I self-sabotaged at every turn as my unconscious need to do something else was burbling to the surface of my awareness. When it finally dawned on me that I was born to give bad and/or glaringly obvious advice in a sometimes profane and offensive format to people so desperate they would seek help from the likes of me, I began my journey towards happiness and have never looked back.

Unlike me, you enjoy your profession and want very much to continue in sales.  I considered creating a list of jobs that would require very little interaction with and supervision by others, but in the end that wouldn’t be very helpful to you.  Your issues cannot be solved by some supposed elimination of authority and exercise of independence.

Bob Dylan nailed it when he sang “you gotta serve somebody,” because even those who work for themselves have to answer to someone else, whether it’s clients, customers or angry readers seething over dead baby jokes.  I can’t think of one job in the world that doesn’t present the worker with someone or something to answer to. Can you?

Unknown

P.K., now is the time for you to do the navel-gazing.

Why do you think you shouldn’t have to play by the rules that everyone else does? Why do you think it’s OK to repeatedly put your family’s finances in jeopardy because you can’t get along with others?  How do you think your job-hopping impacts your husband?  How do you think others feel when you are condescending, arrogant and tell them by your repeated abuse of sick days that you think you are too good for the job?

I’m honestly at a loss to give you any advice beyond this: you need to grow up.  Part of the career maturation process requires a healthy acquiescence to authority and the respect of others’ feelings, not to mention understanding and acknowledging our own fault in bad work experiences.

While you are in the process of sorting out your own bullshit from the actual facts surrounding your numerous terminations, you should also insert a very tight filter between your brain and your mouth and hash out how things are likely to end up before you spout off in your usual manner, trying to prove to everyone that you are better and smarter than they are.

Or, you could just give up altogether and start a blog.

-Robin

*Understatement of the century