• Corporate Gaslighting

First You Die. Then You Get To Haunt Them

So I'm 5 months into a job that has helped me escape a previous shitty situation.


It’s not perfect - I’m managing a portfolio of corporate clients and it’s pretty hard to get anyone internally to do anything for them. But I’m one of those weirdos who sticks at stuff and tried to make it work, no matter what. 


My boss goes on holiday and asks me to work on some objectives, so I meet with the Sales Director and someone else on my team to get their feedback to shape how I move forward. I draft some notes, set up a Trello with some suggested objectives and arrange to meet with the Sales Director. 


To say I was unprepared for what happened next is an understatement: I was roasted.


I was patronised, undermined, accused of not doing my job, told I hadn’t delivered on things I had not even been made aware of.


I actually thought I was being fired.


My salary was brought up more than once and it’s stated I’m not behaving like I’m on a “high salary”.


I’m absolutely speechless on that one. reader, it's not even six figures. No commission. And I took a pay cut to join. 


Luckily I’m a resilient sort and managed to give as good as I get, behaving calmly, stating the facts and even getting him to agree with me. 


And of course I complain to my boss when he gets back, plus talk to HR about it. But it knocked my confidence terribly. 


Fast forward four months and my boss is now made redundant. I'm given the news in a closed room - without HR - and told my new boss will be the Sales Director and told to "pull my socks up because it's either him or me". Again, my 'high” salary' is referred to. 


A month later, I get called into a meeting and get told "this hasn't worked out"


Yep, you guessed it, it's my turn.


Two days later and I’m asked if I’m okay and to approve an email to go out to staff announcing my departure. When I calmly ask them to confirm when they will be paying me until, the COO says “thank you for being so professional about this”. 


For me, this is the final straw and I almost spit out “I am a professional”


5 days later I get a confirmation of redundancy “due to restructuring”.


So I'm working out my notice or gardening leave or whatever the fuck people call it (can we make redundo a thing?) and I notice a lot of new things start to happen.


People started to do the work I'd been asking them to do for the past year. Strategies appeared, proposals worked on, meetings attended, whereas before I’d had to blag it.


The hard work I’ve put into building relationships is suddenly bearing fruit - but someone else is taking all of the credit. You can guess who ...


Once the announcement goes out, two co-workers tell me they are envious of me. All but a few people come and ask me face to face, email or Slack to say WTF?


One darling colleague even came up to me and whispered "Cunts". I guffawed.


Oh my, it was glorious. And then I realised I could have fun with this. 


The SD asks at our next catch up if I’ve had chance to look for anything yet. “Oh no ...” I reply, smoking an imaginary cigarette “... I’m far too busy at the moment”


Q: What's more annoying in the office than someone with a new job and a smug face?


A: Someone who's been made redundant but carries on as normal.


Sure there are angry emails of protest, tears to cry and court cases to raise ... but don't waste your energy, time or money. Instead, turn up for the meetings, continue to do the work, meet the clients, write the reports, do the handover notes ... it really fucking unnerves people. They really do expect you to be shaking in the corner clutching a bottle of gin. 


The stages of coping : 


1. Shock


Even if you hate the job, it’s a jolt to the system to be let go. Even if you were already planning an escape route, or applying for other stuff, to be told you are not wanted hurts. Remove yourself from the office immediately after being told if you can. Breathe. This bit can last up to 48 hours. Cry if you have to. Don’t drink.


2. Shame 


You can feel like you’ve let yourself, your family and the company down. You must be terrible. Redundancy is a taboo almost on a par with divorce. This shame bit never really goes away because you’re human and you don’t want to fail. But it does subside into - 


3. Anger


You might wonder why they employed you in the first place, seethe at the fact you’ve been set up to fail and want to trash your laptop and set fire to the place. Sit on your hands. Talk to friends, talk to your network. Reaffirm this isn’t your fault. Channel the anger into writing a new CV and applying for 100 jobs. See it as an opportunity.


(One of my fabulous friends said “congratulations” when I told her. Find a similar friend) 


4. IDGAF (I don’t give a f&@k) 


Darlings, once you reach this point you are laughing. Step back and look at what you’re doing day to day and what you enjoy about it. Pick and choose what you participate in from now on - if you haven’t already been doing this. Wear devastating outfits, laugh a lot and swan in and out if you can. Bring in clients - hell, host a lunch for them all and make it a huge success. Show everyone you are just doing the work and always were. 


5. Play The Game


A few people stopped speaking to me altogether. I had already gone in their eyes, a nuisance who kept questioning their accountability and prodding them to action. It made me realise what a ridiculous theatre the office is : just a handful of traditions and rituals which is on the way out.  


6. Watch Marcus Brown’s “Corporate Artist” Videos On YouTube


You can see episode 1 here.


7. Get Another Job

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