“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” An excert from Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this case, an Original Poster with the username u/intrepidshe found herself alone against “the world.” Her technical skills and knowledge were useful in an emerging field that could flourish and exceed the achievements of the other departments in the company.
The opportunity had already been offered to other department leaders, but they lacked the confidence to try something new with its share of risks.
But OP was grateful for the job, and she was determined to do her best. However, the challenge was not the technical aspect of her responsibilities. It was the humans, the department leaders who disliked her and her work along with its huge potential for success.
Published on Reddit’s r/MaliciousCompliance, here is OP’s story: “I got my first ‘grown up’ job while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree. I was just getting started in a highly technical and emerging field. Very few people back then were doing this kind of work, and I seemed to have an aptitude for it, which is probably why I got a job before I had any credentials. The department I was hired for was brand new and had the potential to take customers from other departments, while also generating net new business. Interestingly, the other departments had been offered the opportunity to start the service themselves but refused, even actively trying to prevent it from happening.”
What did these department leaders do when they failed to prevent the new business endeavor from happening? They all voted not to give OP an office. She didn’t understand why at first, out of the impression that professionals don’t engage in petty things.
But in time the reality dawned on OP, who further related in her post, “When I realized what was happening, I knew they’d get exposed if I went along with it. So I happily did my job wherever I could find a place, which often ended up being in the mailroom…. where lots of people would notice. I hoped maybe the leaders would start to feel guilty or annoyed and change their minds. Or… they’d be caught by their bosses. Either way, problem solved for me without a fight.”
And so, OP just kept working in the mailroom, where many people came to like her because she helped them with their computers. As time went by, some of the department leaders started to feel guilty for the way they’d been treating her, but there was one of them who hated her so much. OP learned that this person, Mr. So&So, would even remark that OP wasn’t even the “level of a secretary” in their meetings.
However, events soon turned in OP’s favor when the company president, who had noticed her several times working in the mailroom, finally asked her in annoyance, “Why don’t you work in your office?!”
It was the chance for OP to explain that the department leaders did not want to give her an office.
“I don’t have an office.”
“What?! Why not?”
“There isn’t room. No space available.”
“According to whom?”
“But you’ve been working here for, what, 3 months? They could have found space for you by now.”
In rage, the president went upstairs, and yelling could be heard from the office of the man who disliked OP the most.
Then, the president returned and took OP upstairs to the conference room, where all the department leaders were present with their heads bowed. OP didn’t expect what would happen next. She didn’t want anyone to be kicked out so she could have her own office.
Instead, OP wrote how the president turned to her: “She handed me a key to the conference room and said, ‘This is your office.’ She scooped up the rest of the keys, which I learned later were all their copies of the key to the conference room, and said, ‘Your office is the largest office on campus. Even bigger than mine. Enjoy!’ And she walked out. That was probably the best drop-the-mic moment I’ve ever seen in my life. And the story ends with my compliance not only winning me that office but all the other leaders, except Mr. So&So becoming great colleagues.”
Indeed, it was a big triumph for OP, and later, in an edit, there was another ugly incident involving her and Mr. So&So, but fortunately the president resolved it again. And this time, she and Mr. So&So had the opportunity to work together on a project, and you can guess what happened next. They too became friends.
A happy ending for an underdog from the mailroom.Whizzco