From the Flip Side (manager miscue)

From the Flip Side

My optimism and enthusiasm rubbed her the wrong way from day one. Why she hired me was a question that haunted me for ten months until I gave my two-week notice. Sure, I get it, she’s not like me. Still, she’s the boss.

In the first few weeks, our interactions were pleasant and positive, but Zoom can have a smoothing effect on personality quirks and sublimated frustration. I’m sure there was surprise and anger on both sides of our cameras. She seemed perturbed that I didn’t already read her mind as she gave cryptic onboarding guidance like, “Don’t always come to me for help, use the rest of your team.”

Then little fractures kept happening. Events that in my previous experience would’ve been discussed as part of our getting in sync. In her very busy world, a simple miscommunication could become an issue between us.

Her DM said, “Get this email out COB.”

Fifteen minutes later, I had pushed send on the perfect message. I was proud. I had fired off a WIN-WIN for our clients and my team.

Her next DM said, “Did you already send the email?”



I had added the wrong assumption to her initial request. My brain heard “Get this email out *by* COB.” (Close of Business) What she meant to say, as I found out from her passive-aggressive parent response, was, “Get this email out *at* COB.”

Turns out the miscue had no impact on our client or the project, but for the next month my manager would say, “Okay, so tell me what you heard so I know that you got it right.”

It didn’t take long for things to get worse. On the day we returned to the office for the first time, she filed a Performance Improvement Plan on me. I returned the favor by contesting it line-by-line with the HR team. And with that, she was a pussy cat until I handed her my two-week notice. She tried not to react at all.

Was she happy? Surprised? Angry? Disappointed? I’ll never know.

Read more Short-Short Stories from John.

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