Apr. 25th, 2014

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
This post on Ask A Manager has bothered me for the last week. The letter writer (I'll use the pronoun he, although the letter doesn't specify), locked a co-worker on a balcony minutes before a client meeting. The co-worker escaped, physically pulled the LW out of the meeting, and threatened him with bodily harm. The LW is really upset by this and wondering what to do.

Threatening people with violence is not okay. The victim should have handled that differently. But I can come up with lots of contexts that would mitigate, although not justify, the victim's bad behavior. Maybe this was the culmination of a long line of microaggressions. Maybe he had good reason to believe reporting it to management wouldn't work. Maybe he had a phobia or PTSD. Maybe he was stressed about missing the client meeting, and the possibility the LW was deliberately cutting him out. Any or all of those could lead to threatening violence to look like a good idea.

There's very little context that could help LW. The default action is "not locking co-workers in anything, ever", and he needs to provide an affirmative defense. The full letter attempts this, and fails miserably.

So while the victim still shouldn't have threatened violence, I have no sympathy for the LW. You don't get to be mad that people failed to uphold the social contract in responding to your violation of the social contract.

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pktechgirlbackup

May 2014

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