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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Voicing Your Opinion

For as long as one man has worked for another, he has found difficulty in using his voice to protest to his employer. In fact, man (used in this instance as a collective we) has done the opposite. He has coddled, bowed to, agreed with, and kowtowed to his employer all in hopes of keeping his job. I'm just as guilty of this as the next.

Last night while listening to Juan Williams, a popular NPR host, I was reminded of those times when I chose not to kowtow to my superior. NPR fired Juan because he stated on a popular television station his fear of seeing a traditionally dressed Muslim on board the same jet on which he was flying. He was - basically - fired immediately for stating his opinion; his fear.

I could only emphasize with him as I recalled my last encounter with an employer who fired me for what I thought was informing him of troubles within the organization. Troubles involving someone the owner hired to run the company and lift it into a better financial position. The newly hired person was - in fact - ruining the the company's reputation with those who purchased our product.

Two years later, unbeknown to me I was proven right and the company closed its doors. The affect on me of voicing my observations and opinion and subsequently being fired haunted me for years to come. Despite knowing I would never have been happy working with and for someone who was obliterating the company's reputation I wondered if I had been wrong. None of our customers expressed their dismay or unhappiness so where did I get my information? The answer was in my gut; it was intuition and past experience in customer service. If you want customers, you do not alienate them which was exactly what the new hire was doing.

Some four years later, I emailed the owner of the company. I felt I had to put closure to the incident and I needed relief from guilt of perhaps doing something wrong. The owner responded to me shortly after, wrote that I had done nothing wrong that - in fact - the person he hired had treated him as the customers were treated; had not increased the income as he had promised he would do.

I thanked the former owner for telling me and expressed my relief.

My congratulations to Juan for his voice and - perhaps - expressing what many of us feel or at the very least exactly what I feel, and poo-poo on NPR who I discovered last night is partly funded by our government expressly you and me.

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