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Some People Just Can’t Accept Criticism, Apparently

, , , , , | Working | September 23, 2021

Before my current job, I worked in a flooring store, originally as a salesperson. While I was not skilled, I still made enough sales and stuck with the job for about a year. Eventually, I become too overwhelmed and fried in that role. Thankfully, my boss moved me to an admin assistant. While it was perfect, the store still needed a second salesperson.

Finally, they were able to hire an older gentleman, who reportedly had experience in flooring, even owning his own store years ago. Before him, I was the most recent hire. For context, I am a softspoken, petite, twenty-three-year-old female who had just graduated college. Our store, besides our installers, was entirely female-led, just by accident of who had stayed over the years.

I was tasked with training [New Hire] on the specifics of our store and how we operate. For almost four weeks, I worked with him on a daily basis, teaching him the computer programs and organizational systems we used. It turned out that he had very little computer experience — so little that I also had to patiently train him on how to use Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer. For the first week or so, he was apologetic and thanked me often for being patient.

Part of the job as a salesperson is to type up estimates to send to specific clients. At this point, we had already completed several typed quotes and other things using Word. One day, I left [New Hire] to type up an estimate while I completed another task. When I returned, we reviewed the quote he had written. Instead of the format he had been trained to use, he instead wrote it as one run-on sentence with many formatting, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Before I could work on the subject matter, I started correcting him on what needed to be fixed — common writing rules that would still be applied if something was handwritten. After the third item that I pointed out to be fixed, [New Hire] slammed his hands down on the desk, stood up, yelled, “Screw this!”, and left to the break room. I was shocked at the outburst and instantly felt terrible, assuming that it was something I had done. I figured he got overwhelmed and needed space. Eventually, he came back and apologized, as did I. A similar outburst happened a few days later from a similar cause and had a similar result.

From that moment on, I changed my approach to [New Hire], as I was afraid of him having another outburst on me. Even though I felt I was not the most qualified, I was still in charge of his training. I didn’t correct him as often, just to not make him angry. I expressed my concern to the boss and manager and they finally moved him to work more independently with only the manager as oversight. He eventually stopped asking me for help, which I was okay with as that minimized the risk for more outbursts.

There was an evening where I, [New Hire], and one of my female coworkers were on the closing shift together. We don’t have prices on our products but have a labeling system to know what the prices are — something that has frequently been taught to [New Hire]. While we have cheatsheets for remembering this all throughout the showroom and the sales desk, you can always double-check the pricing in the books we have in the manager’s office. 

About an hour before closing, a woman came in wanting to know our price on a few different products. [New Hire] was now working mostly independently but needed some help. He came to the back of the room where [Coworker] and I were working on other tasks and asked [Coworker] to help him with the client. They both walked back to the front together, but before [Coworker] could help, [New Hire] instead asked the client to give him her name and number so he could call her the next day to give her the pricing (something our store commonly does). I could hear everything going on from where I was seated in the back, so I was a little confused when I heard this, as the products were some of the more common, popular ones we quote multiple times a day.

After the client left, [New Hire] approached me in the back and asked me to help find the pricing on those items for the previous client — something that would have taken five minutes when she was just there. I again showed him which books to use, pulled them out of the office, and handed him one while I held the other so we could find the pricing together. I found the price for the first product and told him. With his book, we started looking for the second price together. He then mumbled, “I didn’t want to do this; I just wanted you to do it for me.”

I then turned to him, and in my best encouraging voice, said, “I know it is a lot to learn, but you’re not always gonna have me or [Coworker] to help do things like this for you, so it is important that you know how to do this yourself. It’s like that saying, ‘Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for life.’” Looking back on it, I can definitely see where this last line went wrong.

At this, he slammed his book shut, said to me, “Sorry, I didn’t realize this place was full of f****** smarta**es,” and then walked away. I instantly felt terrible and realized that was never my intention. I tried to approach him to apologize and speak with him calmly about it, but he instead ignored me, kept muttering about what smarta**es we were, and even put his hand in my face to indicate not to speak with him. He packed up his things and left, almost thirty minutes before his shift was supposed to end.

[Coworker] and I were shocked and didn’t know what to do. We ended up not telling anyone that night. Our concern was that [New Hire] had several meetings scheduled in the morning with different clients and we were worried he was now going to flake on them, giving the company a bad name. When we got to the store the next morning, we told the manager what had happened. For her and the owner, this was the final straw with [New Hire], as there were a few other red flags that had appeared over the past several weeks that they had kept an eye on.

But it’s not over yet. The owner was out of the office for most of the day, and they could not fire anyone without her approval — very small company — so we waited until the owner and [New Hire] showed up. Both eventually did arrive — [New Hire] did attend all of his appointments, thankfully — within an hour of each other. [New Hire] was then called to the office with the owner and manager. The other girls and I were thankful his tirade was finally ending. Besides his outbursts on me, he constantly made the others feel uncomfortable with comments on how he would do everything better than us and his sexist stories of how he treated his wife.

But when they left the private meeting, everyone was smiling and laughing — not a good sign. The boss instead called a full store meeting for us all to discuss some things. We all gathered together, including [New Hire], and the owner explained the issues we had had with his adjustment. They worked on a plan to give [New Hire] a second shot with the company. He was not being fired!

At first, I was honestly a little upset at this news, but I didn’t want to leave things on a sour note with [New Hire], either, so I was willing to give it a second try. In the middle of this meeting — the meeting where we were giving him a second chance! — [New Hire] interrupted the owner and said, “Hey, I’m very thankful for you guys giving me a second chance, but I have just decided I am going to put in my two-week notice.”

What?! The owner asked [New Hire] if he was serious this time. He told her he was. Everything in the meeting we had discussed before this was then pointless. But I and the other girls figured, well, if it’s only two more weeks, let’s just deal with it the best we can. We then tried to be warmer and much friendlier with him to let him know that all was forgiven. But [New Hire] mostly kept to himself the rest of the day.

It turned out, in the private meeting with the manager and owner, had [New Hire] begged to not be let go. The owner, who has a huge heart, had agreed to give him the second shot. We didn’t find this out until much later. This all happened on a Friday. On Saturdays, our store had much shorter hours with only two people running it. [New Hire] was scheduled to work it with [Coworker #2], the other salesperson. Despite everything that happened Friday, [New Hire] was still good with working that Saturday, but [Coworker #2] later told us the story of what happened.

When [Coworker #2] walked in that morning, despite the attempts to greet him and make small talk with him, [New Hire] only stonewalled [Coworker #2], giving her a very cold vibe. It was a slow day, so there were not many customers besides a handful to keep things busy. [New Hire] then began to mutter to himself, “Nothing like being stabbed in the f****** back.” [Coworker #2] instantly felt super uncomfortable and unsafe; she was the only person alone in the building with him and he was obviously very angry. She began texting the owner and manager, letting them know what he was saying and how she did not feel safe. He kept swearing at everyone under his breath, and [Coworker #2] made herself busy in the backroom to avoid being near him.

Thankfully, the owner was able to get to the store to see the situation for herself. She asked him, point-blank, “[New Hire], did you say you felt like were stabbed in the back by a bunch of f****** knives?”

[New Hire] responded, “No, I did not say, ‘f******’.”

The owner then told him to pack up his things and leave. All the while, he kept switching from swearing at [Coworker #2] and me (even though I was not there) and begging her to let him stay.  

When I returned Monday, officially there was no more [New Hire]. I am still thankful for those ladies and the owner and manager who listened to our concerns when we felt unsafe.

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