Why do some people want to make things harder instead of easier?

Have you ever met one of those people who want to make things harder for others? This is a story about someone like that.

I’ve worked in the PR and marketing industry for more than half my life.

During that time, I’ve met all kinds of people – including a few difficult personalities. The one that stands out as most memorable for me was a woman leader who was determined to make my life as difficult as possible.

Thankfully, I didn’t work for this woman. I was on a short-term project led by her, so I only had to put up with her for about a week. During the time we spent together, her attitude astounded me. I think she viewed it as a form of tough love.

It turns out there are two kinds of people in this world: those who had it hard and want to make it easier for others, and those who had it hard and want others to suffer, too. She was of the latter type.

This all took place in November 2009. I was nearing the end of my second trimester of pregnancy with Zoe, so I was still able to travel for work. I was assigned to work with a team in Cleveland and ultimately travel to Missouri and Arkansas with them for a pitch.

It felt exciting; it was a plum work assignment. I was on top of my career game and feeling good. I was very, very lucky and blessed with my pregnancy. I rarely felt sick and honestly felt like a million dollars for most of it.

But then, I met a woman on this project. I’ll call her Sandra – not her real name. Sandra was welcoming to me initially, but the moment she noticed that I was pregnant, she became ruthless in her repeated and overt attempts to make me as uncomfortable as possible.

She worked our team late into the night, not allowing any breaks. When I needed a bathroom break, I had to get up and take it even if we were in the middle of something; she typically made a snide comment. A senior man on the team actually apologized to me for how brutally she was behaving; he said he wasn’t sure why she was riding the team so hard.

But I knew why. I could tell it was about me being pregnant because her demeanor had been totally different until she found out I was expecting. For some reason, me being pregnant made her angry and resentful toward me. For a few days, I could only marvel at her attitude and bad treatment of me.

But then, during our travel together at the end of the project, she finally opened up to me and explained everything.

“You young women today have things so much easier!” she exclaimed. “When I was coming up in my career, there were so few women leaders and everything was centered around men. During my pregnancies, I got no extra help or support – it was hard, hard, hard. And I see no reason to go easy on young women today. I had it hard; you should have it hard, too.”

I was flabbergasted. I had never run into that particular attitude before. I could not fathom the idea that a fellow woman, and a mother at that, would purposely try to make work or life more difficult or painful for someone else simply because she felt like it had been that way for her.

Ever since that time, I’ve gone out of my way to support and help pregnant coworkers. I suggest breaks during long meetings, offer more comfortable seating and ask if I can help anytime they’re carrying something.

I was so blown away – and honestly changed forever – by my experience with that woman. Her attitude was about as far from my own as I can imagine. Just knowing there are people out there like that gives me a slight shiver up my spine.

Sure, I did need more frequent bathroom breaks and snacks during my pregnancy, and I did get tired more easily during long days. But I still worked as hard as every other member of the team. There was no reason to be extra tough on me!

I’m fortunate that I only had to work with that woman for a week and that I’ve not encountered anyone else quite like her in my career.

Have you ever worked with someone who believes they had it hard so others should, too? I’d love to hear your business horror stories in the comments below or over on Facebook!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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