Never apologize for wanting respect
Respect is a funny thing. Everyone claims they respect the people around them. Until the time to actually show that respect arrives of course.
I’ve been working in software development since 2013, in various roles and companies. Some companies and roles were better than others of course. But one thing was always common, and that was usually the reason why I left said companies or roles in the end.
That reason you ask? Lack of respect from managers.
Now, this lack of respect can come in many forms, from them dismissing your hard work by saying it’s easy, to having a raise request denied because there is no money, even though the owner of the company just bought a new supercar.
Some might view this as a lack of acknowledgment rather than respect, but I feel as though the two are more interconnected than people think.
And while I was a junior developer, I could understand this idea, because I was prone to making mistakes since you know, I didn’t know jack about programming. But over the years, I became increasingly annoyed when people started mistreating me at work and I started to push back, little by little.
I still remember a colleague of mine some 4 years ago. He was always in a bad mood, always criticized the way the project was organized. Mind you, he did not provide any solutions to the problems. He just liked to bring everyone down. And there was a time when I had to help him with something. We had an issue with the project, which I managed to fix. I think it was something related to the Git repository we were using.
I was being cordial and nice when explaining stuff to him, but he always responded in a passive-aggressive manner. You know, like the people around him were not good enough and were wasting his time.
I ignored his snarky remarks at first and tried to be reasonable. I answered any questions he had in a polite manner. His attitude did not change until, after about the 10th time of answering in the same manner, I snapped and told him that if he still wants my help, then he’ll shut up and listen to how I got things working or he can figure it out on his own.
The funniest part about all of this was when he cowered and went to the team lead, saying I had an attitude problem.
Was my reaction inappropriate? Yes. Snapping at your coworkers is never a good thing.
Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Not because the guy was a bully (and would gossip about other colleagues as well). But because I will not allow anyone to talk to me in a disrespectful manner when I don’t (knowingly) disrespect them.
After I left for another company, I faced another form of disrespect. That form was people constantly trying to force me to go to after work meetings when I did not want to or could not, due to other activities. The people in charge of organizing the after-work events would almost hound me sometimes, just so I’d cave and cancel whatever plans I had or magically garner up the desire to go to the event.
Of course, I would stand my ground and that did not really bode well with my colleagues. But as time passed I grew to care less and less about their reactions. I always respected other people’s beliefs and life choices. I may not agree with them, but I will always respect them. It’s not like I care too much since it’s other people’s lives and not mine.
In the past, I used to consider this as a weakness. But not anymore. There is a tired saying on LinkedIn that goes something like: “Once you know your worth, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to be around people who don’t”. But it’s a very true saying.
You should never allow yourself to be bullied (especially emotionally bullied) or manipulated, especially if you know you are in the right. You shouldn’t cry victim if you’re in the wrong of course, but if you know you’re right and your managers still don’t respect you, it’s time to look for people that do.