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Surviving the worst at work

You can survive embarrassment at the office. (Thinkstock)

You can survive embarrassment at the office. (Thinkstock)

You’ve been there — embarrassing yourself at the office, facing down a redundancy and wondering how, exactly you’ll survive and keep progressing in your career.

These are the dilemmas of professional life and they are never easy to navigate. They’re also topics a number of LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week — from surviving humiliation at work to why being laid off once in a career could be a good thing.

Here’s what two of them had to say.

Sallie Krawcheck, financial executive and former president of Bank of America Wealth Management

I remember being a young research analyst, only several months into the job, talking into the microphone at the morning meeting. I’m sure my voice was trembling, and I spoke too quickly, and I rushed through my words,” wrote Krawcheck in her post How to Survive Humiliation at Work.

That may have been bad enough for a little jolt of embarrassment,” she wrote. “But off a bit to my right, in the front row, sat the most senior analyst in the department…. And as I spoke, he brought his right hand over his eyes, dropped his head, shook his head woefully and sighed loudly and dramatically... for the entire time I was speaking.”

Not only did Krawcheck see the move as cruel — it was worse. “All these years later, I can still feel the sting of the humiliation of it,” she wrote.  Krawcheck gathered herself and went to the analyst’s office and asked him for thoughts on what she could do better. He dismissed her immediately, she wrote, saying that he wasn’t her boss. “And then he continued to pull this act every time I spoke in the morning meeting,” she wrote.

To survive the humiliation — and continued treatment — Krawcheck wrote that she did several things:

“I… went to my boss’s office to get his feedback, no matter how painful. I also asked others for feedback. I asked how I could do better at almost every opportunity,” she wrote. “I kept speaking at the morning meeting. I didn’t ignore [the analyst’s] disapproval. And most importantly, I worked tremendously hard to become successful in my job.”

No, it didn’t feel fair, Krawcheck wrote, “but it helped me stand out from the competition… I’m almost certain I was more successful, more quickly, because” of the experience.

Michelle Mastrobattista, director, digital communications at Solomon McCown & Co

A few years after Mastrobattista finished university, she got a dream job offer, “to be an account executive at an entertainment marketing agency that worked with big brands such as Fiji water, Philips, and Volkswagen. It… perfectly married my interests in marketing and entertainment. I loved the job,” she wrote in her post Why Everyone Should Be Laid Off at Least Once.

“All was great until one day, I got laid-off,” she wrote. “It is the absolute worst feeling. I felt like a failure. To add insult to injury, my boss had to drive me home because I had driven a company car that day. I didn't have my keys and remember sitting on my stoop crying with a box full of my things.”

But all was not lost, wrote Mastrobattista. In fact, it was a good thing. “I think everyone should get laid off at least once in their career,” she wrote. “The silver lining was that being laid off forced me to take the next step and to keep learning.”

Soon, Mastrobattista got another job, although it was a lower-level position than she had previously held. But, she wrote, her boss let her take on extra work and her responsibilities grew. Several jobs later, she was forming the social media department of a marketing startup.

“I had finally found my niche,” she wrote. “My path to success looked nothing like what I thought it would. It was a winding road full of ups and downs that helped shape who I am today. It is all about what you take away from each experience and how you apply it to everything that you do.”

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