Wednesday 6 May 2015

How Public Shaming Only Made Me Stronger

I work at one of those massive companies with a name everyone knows. My Mum is proud to tell everyone I work at a big book store and I'm very happy with the job I moved to a new country to do.

In the 17th year of my career, I have seen it all. The big companies.  The technical power houses that people long to work for. The money factories where I was paid more than small countries to do what I do. Even the start ups that lost me money and some that made me comfortable. The small backwater towns that I worked in while hiding out from the real tech world. Seen. It. All.

Recently at work, I was advised by my manager to send an email to an internal group of peers. This group represent the entire fleet of people at my company that work in my role. That is not a small number. So, not just my peers but people I want to be like when I grow up.

I wrote the email and sent it off.

Yes, I could have worded it better. Although, I did get a review before I sent it. All the good that did.

Then one guy said "I think you should check with the security group before you ask that" and he meant well.

Then the assault came. The public shamers who told me what I had done was equivalent to lighting orphans on fire for entertainment and selling tickets.

Then the private shamers who emailed me with a helpful tone to tell me that I had effed up and needed to consider my actions.

I did check with that security group and all was ok.

Yes, I could have worded it better.

The whole incident made me want to crawl under my desk and never show my face again.

But for each person who kicked me, ten sent me messages of support. They said things like:

  • "there are people who will make you look bad to make themselves look good";
  • "at least you didn't take down the entire US website"; and
  • "I did that once and someone else will do something soon and they will forget you."
I have pretty thick skin. Every mistake I make is a learning experience. I'll be fine.

The thing I dislike about this kind of public shaming is that it makes onlookers afraid to try anything and restricts the amazing people they hire.

Yeah, I may never mail that mailing list again for help. I will have to deal with people saying "Oh, you're that Damana from the mailing list who got her arse kicked" and other interesting comments. It doesn't matter to me.

After a week of feeling terrible about myself, I realised I made a mistake in the way I executed my objective. Next time, I will do better.

What made me much stronger was realising that I don't need to publicly shame someone to feel better about myself. That is a good trait. A better one than pointing and sniggering.

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