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Having Them Hate You Can Be A Blast

June 23, 2014

My dad told me a story one time.

Two guys were roommates. “Batching it” as my dad would say. They had an agreement; one would cook until the other one complained about the food and then the complainer had to take over cooking duties.

Well, one of the roommates simply wouldn’t complain. Day after day went by and he didn’t say a word about his friend’s cooking. Finally one day, in frustration, the roommate stuck with cooking duty dumped a whole handful of salt into the morning oatmeal.


He waited in anticipation as his tolerant friend sat down and took a big spoonful of oatmeal.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Have you ever worked with someone who didn’t like you? Someone who just honestly wanted the worst for you? I hope not. I have a couple of times and it’s kind of exhausting. You spend way too much time watching out for the traps they will lay for you. Or, trying to get the report they promised you. Or any number of things.

However, in addition to the stress it creates, it also can be a lot of fun. I’m serious. Having someone who hates your guts at work can be a blast.

Here’s how. When someone just despises you, they typically want to see you fail. If you are good at your job, your successes are going to eat them up inside. In fact, you don’t even have to brag about it. Just knowing that they have to witness your success is agony.

I once beat out a guy for a trainer job at Microsoft. It so happens that I was much more qualified than he was. I’d written courseware for WordPerfect. I was an expert on Microsoft messaging products. But, he was positive that I’d gotten the trainer position because I was friends with the hiring manager.

A couple years later, I wrote the best Microsoft Messaging course in the history of the company. I gave it a terrible name. It was called Microsoft Exchange Advanced Topics. What it really was was a course on network traces. I know that means nothing to the non-techies and even the techies reading it are saying, “Sure it was” without any real conviction. But, trust me, the course was awesome.

Eventually it came time for the support engineer I’d beat out for the job to take the course. At the end of the course, the class filled out anonymous evaluations. Typically I got 4’s and 5’s on this course on a five point scale. I’d occasionally received a hand written score of SIX out of five. One score came back as a 3, and a note that said,

All Rodney did was steal the work from Gary, the escalation engineer!

Even all these years later, that is one of the most enjoyable reviews I ever received. Because it was obvious from the other scores that the class loved the course. The fact that this person still held an unwarranted grudge years later was sad, but also somewhat funny. His ill feelings didn’t harm me in the least. If he tried to convince people the course was terrible, no one would believe him.

Business gets done best when everyone is on the same page and pulling not only for the success of the company, but for the success of each other. However, in those rare cases where you do manage to pick up an enemy. Just remember to continue to do a stellar job meeting your obligations and go ahead and enjoy watching them burn up with jealousy.

The moral of the oatmeal story I started with is this:

As the roommate took a big bite of the salt laden oatmeal he exclaimed,

Oo, this is salty!. . . Just the way I like it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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