What’s the last thing you wish you could’ve told your boss and not gotten fired for it? U.S. workers spend more than 13 years working over a 50-year career—about a quarter of their time. People could be so much happier if they could be honest with their employers without consequences.
Characters in novels often have work issues as a big source of conflict. Why? Because people can relate.
Gillian, the heroin in my romantic suspense, Becker Circle, could’ve used a few frank conversations with her accounting firm boss at her first job out of college. Her boss habitually dumped busy work on Gillian because she was single and had time to work at night. What? She also was one of those bosses who jumped all over anyone who arrived at work or from lunch five minutes late. Worst though, she swept a client’s obvious accounting dishonesty under the rug when Gillian found it during an audit, and then pulled her off the project.
The Japanese have it right. Their culture includes a practice called “nomminication” that encourages honesty in the workplace—both ways. It’s a combination of “nomu” or drink and “communication”. Bosses periodically host their employees for an evening out. When enjoying cocktails in this safe environment, employees can share whatever they’d like to say to their boss. Afterwards, employers don’t allow pay cuts or demotions or job transfers as retaliation.
As a marketing consultant who’s spent way too much time working, the concept intrigues me. I’m spoiled working for myself and thankful my job doesn’t force me to deal with awful bosses. I have fired clients. When I still had bosses, one kept piling more work on me because I wasn’t married or a mom and “didn’t have anything else to do,” she said. I told her it was too much. At raise time, she gave me this tiny, insulting salary increase. I walked out of her office and transferred to a more senior position working with a professional leader soon after, and never looked back.
The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 49 years. Jobs should be fulfilling, not a sentence. Explore other opportunities inside and outside your company. If a reasonable conversation with your boss doesn’t work—with or without nomminication—the grass may indeed be greener, as the saying goes. It definitely worked for Gillian. And in the meantime, read a good novel with a kickass heroine who says everything you’ve wanted to say to your boss.
Everyone has a boss story worth repeating. Share yours!
Here’s a scene from Becker Circle where Gillian squares off with her unfair boss.
Just as the next person is halfway through her first sentence, I interrupt. “One more thing. I saw something weird in their books—like money’s disappearing.”
“What are you saying, Gillian?” Kim sits forward in her chair. “Are you implying embezzlement?”
“Well, yes. I don’t have the full trail together yet, but it looks suspicious.”
“We must be absolutely certain before making a claim like that.” She walks to the window and watches the cars on the freeway zip by. “Do you realize how serious this could be?” she turns and spits back.
I know she’ll be pissed at me for saying this, but I do anyway. “With all due respect, it sounds like you’re upset with me.” The entire table of my accountant coworkers inhales a collective breath and holds it waiting for Kim’s response. She stands at the window with her arms folded. Staring. “Isn’t this why we do audits?”
“I know, Gillian, you’re doing your job.” Kim turns back to the table. “But someone with more experience needs to handle this one.” She pauses and scans the faces around the conference table. Everyone’s looking somewhere else but at her. “Get with Bryan this afternoon. He’ll take it from here.”
About the Author
Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. She has been writing since childhood and continues today as an independent marketing consultant. She addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing, and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy.