Would an Employer Shame You for Looking Out for Yourself?

November 18, 2016

I was recently reading about two executive level women who were offered a new job. At their level, the job offers involved an employment contract.Each of them happened to be at the employer’s office when offered the job (vs. being at home, getting the call, and being emailed the contract).Each woman told the employer she would have her attorney review the employment contract. And in each case, the employer said to the woman something to the effect of, “Oh, well, we wouldn’t want to start off on the wrong foot, would we?”Would we, indeed!Each of those women signed her contract on the spot after being shamed for suggesting she would have her attorney review it.These women also have a friend in common and, when telling their stories, this friend asked, “Don’t you think this person who shamed you made certain her employment contract was reviewed by her attorney?”Being shamed for looking out for yourself
Being shamed for taking a stand
Being shamed for saying you’re going to run something by your attorney

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Shaming you in these ways for these reasons is never okay. And it still happens to women, even at the executive level.Isn’t it surprising that the shamers even try?If you and I are entering a business deal with each other (or already have one) and you say you’re going to run something by your attorney, the only okay response on my part is to say something such as, “Sure. Give me a call later.”Even if I think you don’t need to run it by your attorney
Even if I think you’re being silly or ridiculous or extreme
Even if I disagree with you for any reasonThe only okay response is to say, “Sure. Call me later.”I was in a business situation a while back where my attorney told me to call her if the other party told me something that was beyond innocuous in a phone call that would occur the following day. Sure enough, an issue came up in that phone call.I thought, “Great! I can test out saying that I’m going to need to run that by my attorney and see how the other person responds.”I said those very words and the other person got angry!I held my ground.Later, my attorney and I agreed that I would next speak to the VP who signed the contract (which they now didn’t want to honor).The VP acted angry and arrogant. (Truly, these two people should have approached me with humility, not with anger or arrogance.)It was an eye-opening experience to be the person saying, “I’m going to run that by my attorney,” and to have the other party respond negatively.It is ALWAYS okay for your to run something by your attorney and it is NEVER okay for the other person to shame you or act angry toward you for doing so.If you don’t have an attorney who can review business or employment contracts for you, start asking around. Lawyers who work in a different field can refer you to others who can review these contracts. Ask business owners and executives for a referral to an attorney who works in business law or employment law. Give the attorney a call and introduce yourself. Ask a few questions to determine if each attorney will be able to help you in the future and if this attorney is someone you’d like to work with when the time comes.

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There certainly are plenty of other ways in which you may have to look out for yourself in the workplace, besides offer letters and offer contracts. Just day-to-day work often involves standing up for yourself in some manner.Anyone who attempts to shame you for standing up for yourself has earned the right to be confronted by you!Please — Let me know your story if someone has tried to shame you for looking out for yourself. I’d like to collect these stories!© 2012 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

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