Standing up for ones self

It has recently come to my attention that I have a bad habit. I’m not even sure if I can call it a habit. However, it is a behavior that I seem to constantly do – or not do depending on how you look at the situation.

I read page 1-3 of this article a few days ago. It is about being a push over at work.

Being a pushover at work

Once I saw that this article didn’t really give me the information I wanted -rather quickly I found another one.  how to stop being a push-over

Now I know after reading that . . .I am a pushover. And I have been one since at least 2004. I have a history of being very easy to manipulate from others. Not only co-workers.

When I was working for a residential treatment center I remember being a push-over. I was first hired in the day treatment department as a educational assistant or para-educator AND a driver ,  then I transferred over to residential/dorms after 2 years. I remember being “easy” with the kids and letting them take over me and I wouldn’t put my foot down with them. I noticed that other staff were more stern with them and of course I wondered why. I didn’t understand that you have to be stern with youth and you need to be like that with them from day one.  As you get to know the individual youth, you can loosen up. But ONLY after you get to know them.  And while I was there, those kids really had me tired around their little hand.  It was horrible. I never stood up for myself.

Then this contused well into 2014. 10 years later. It happened when I was at a rehab center for women. I found myself in a situation when I was a new worker and of course I wanted to please my co-workers and get along with them. I don’t want to displease anyone. I was (still am?) a people pleaser to the point that I couldn’t get my own job done. I don’t know why I was like this.   What happened was a co-worker asked me to help her with ONE of her duties.  She even showed me how to do it. It was so simple a teenager could do it.  Log in all of her “students” behavior in a log book. She asked me to transfer some numbers from a page to a book.  Now, here I am a new employee –  I was only there two weeks when she asked for help.  I didn’t know ALL of my duties and I didn’t know how LONG it would take for me to get all of my duties DONE.

But I jumped at the chance to help this co-worker of mine. I didn’t want to make her my enemy. So I said “YES”. The problem is, it was not my job to do that. I was not hired to do THAT job. My job was to meet the needs of the women in the center. That job took me about 45 minutes and in that time I could have gotten the mail and read the mail. This job required someone to read all mail coming in and going out. It was a prison program so if you’ve ever worked in a jail, you will understand.

By me doing this person’s job, it caused me to not be able to get my work done. I didn’t learn the first time since she asked me again to do the same thing – a few days later. Since I wasn’t busy right then and there – she assumed that I wouldn’t have to do anything in a half an hour.  This job I had was very unpredictable. I could be very busy for 5 hours and then nothing for 1 hour. But I didn’t know that until week 4 or 5. Some things I had to do once a month, some things I had to do twice a month.  Some things I had to do daily. The things that I had to do twice a month were harder to schedule since they didn’t have a set time I needed to do them. They just had to be done twice a month – didn’t matter when. Other things I had to do at a set time. Door Knock had to be done at X time daily. Chores had to be at Y time, daily. Snack had to be done at U time, daily. This women didn’t know what time I did those things. She had other duties. She never saw me do them since she wasn’t around to see me work. And I wasn’t near her watcher her work.

But I allowed her to run me over and treat me like crap. And she did. She treated me as if I was her bitch and I allowed her to do it. She asked me three times to help her out before I went to my boss and asked her “Should I be helping out so and so with such and such”. I was not “NO, that is not your job, that is her job”.  I remember once I was asked to do an assessment on a client of hers, and I wasn’t trained to do it. It was easy since all I had to do was ask questions and I had the questions there in front of me. But I’m not an alcohol counselor. It wasn’t my responsibility to get it done. She just didn’t know how to manager her time properly to get everything done in 45 hours she was given each week.  I guess this got back to her since after I went to my boss, this woman seemed to treat me differently.  Of course I didn’t stand up for myself. I could have said something like ‘You know, I know you need these keys, but do you need to yell at me from across the hallway like I’m a dog? If I need these keys and someone else has them, I walk to find them and come up to them properly and ask them “do you have the keys?”  Can you do the same with me?” But I never said that. She got me fired. She now has a new job. I have no clue if she got fired. But she got me fired since I had had it with her attitude of treating  me like crap and  – you guessed it. I blew up in her face since I didn’t stand up for myself.

It happened again when I was in life insurance. I didn’t stand up for myself when I needed the training. I didn’t say to anyone “You know, I’m not getting the information/training I need from so and so – to do my job properly”.  I was getting some of what I needed from the training videos that I had to watch on line from the company laptop.  However, more than 70% of the duties in life insurance is finding people that can AFFORD whole or Index University Life insurance. The other part (fact finding once you have a solid prospect) is so very easy.  I never asked in 4 weeks “Hey, I need help. My manager is not helping me. If I don’t get the help I need in finding people, then I’m not going to be able to make any appointments to sell life insurance and I’m not going to meet the quota”. I just tired to do it on my own and I NEVER questioned my manager. I just did what he said. I cold called business owners. Did it work? No. I never got any appointment by cold calling business owners. I called my friends too – and my friends don’t have the income to purchase life insurance.

I had the interview back in August 2015 with this certain insurance company.  I was asked ‘How many people do you “know”?   Key word is “know”.  I didn’t ask them two key questions” Well, how well do you want me to know them?”   I told them “I know many disabled people that don’t work/can’t work”.  I guess they didn’t believe me!  

They didn’t ask me “How many people do you know with an income of at least $4K a month”.  They ASSUMED that the people I knew earned that kind of income.  OR they just didn’t care how much my small circle of acquaintances  earned and they were planning on trying to get what they could from the people I barely knew.

I didn’t know in August 2015 how much income one would need to afford whole life insurance. I had no clue!   I know now. I didn’t know I should have done with math with my manager on week one of my job:

Monthly out going

Rent $800

Utilities Water with trash & sewer/gas/electric : $250 (winter electric bill)

Food: $450 (for a family of 3) Yes, this is on the low side

Car payment: $250

Gas in car: $350 (low end again if you live in Southern California)

Home owners insurance: $87 (if broken down monthly)

Car insurance: $49 (two cars, older couple)

2 Credit cards: $170  + $2,406 NET

Non food needs monthly: Dog food, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, garbage bags, make up. $120

$2,506 net needed to live. No going out to dinner with this.  No renting movies with this example. I know $2,506 a month net is about 3,500K monthly gross. And there is not “fun money” in this above example.  Should I have done with math with my boss in week 1 or 2? Had I known what he was planning on doing I probably should have.

So of course I’m not going to ask a question like this “How much of an income do people need to have each month in order to afford a 100,000 policy of whole life insurance from your comapny?”  What kind of person asks that question on a job interview???

My boss and his boss didn’t really understand how much money it takes in order to pay for basic needs.  Everything up there is a need besides the dog food and neither is life insurance.  If you WORK for a living and you live in Southern California, a car IS a need.   If you have a car, you got to have liability car insurance. If you own a home, you got to have home owners insurance. Life insurance is not a need.   Life insurance is always the first bill that gets cut first if you loose a job.  People must eat. And the thing was, my boss was so rude to current clients that are on SSI.

I know what it is like to live on much less. But what I didn’t have was a VOICE to express what was needed to be said to my boss that was treating the current clients so poorly.   Asking them “So you make $900 a month, what do you pay for food, rent, car insurance, et etc. . .”

then the conversation was ” So you can afford pay $40 more a month for this insurance — right?”   then it changed to  “So let’s see, you can you get on food stamps? May be they can help you with your food since you need more life insurance” What a crock of shit.  I did NOT say that out loud. I thought it.

If I was assertive with my boss I would have said  “Boss, this is totally wrong and unethical. This lady is your current client. You are not trying to help her out.  She clearly does not make enough income each month to afford more life insurance.  She is making $900 a month. Do you know how hard it is to live on an income like that? Have you ever make $900 a month in today’s money? What’s worse is she already HAS two policies with your company. What more do you want out of a lady that makes $900 a month? Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I’m watching you treat her like this!  I can’t stay here and watch you beg to this woman to pay an extra $40 a month when she can only budget $90 a month for food. Do you know what $90 of food get’s you? Two weeks worth of food. That’s it.   A month of food costs about $190 for one person.  You have no idea what this lady is going through!  I’m ashamed to have worked under you for these 3 weeks. I’m going back to the office right now and inform so and so about this. The conversation with this woman should have stopped when she said “I have an income of $900 a month”.

And I SHOULD have said that in front of the woman. But I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut and this kind of crap happened so many times with my boss where I watched him beg current clients to pay for more insurance when they made less than $2,500 a month gross.  It’s horrible how he treated them.  What was worse was I didn’t speak up

I guess if you don’t own a car you can deduct  $649 from that total above.  ( -$250 car payment, – $49 car insurance, -$350 gasoline) And if you rent an apartment instead of owning a home – you can deduct $87 since you don’t have home owners insurance.  So instead of having a monthly need of $2,506 net you only need  a total of $1,770.00 net or may be around $2,500 gross each month.   However, I’m not counting the cost of you needing to take the bus to work and that could be $100 a month or more.  Then and only then you might be able to afford a $100 payment for $100,000 of whole life insurance.

Why do I keep on saying $100,000 whole life policy? Because when you go into life insurance, the ONLY thing you will be pushed to sell is the big whopper of 100,000 whole life or indexed universal life.   If you are lucky enough to get on section 8 housing, hey, your rent pay only be about $690 a month (based on an gross income of $2,300).  (As of 2010 there is a waiting list to get the voucher needed to get on this federal program. Not enough very low income homes).  Section 8 housing California FAQs

Now that I came back from that rabbit trail,  now you know why I need to learn to stand up for myself.  I can’t be just letting people run all over me.

I need to learn to say is “NO”.  I need to learn to say it when I’m asked by a co-worker to help them with something, when I’m a new employee.  I need to say it when I’m not sure about something or if I just don’t know the answer to something.  I can also say “You know. I’m a new worker here and since I’m new, I’m not entirely sure how long it will take me to get all of this stuff done. Can I come back to you later and let you know if I have time to help you out?” And I MUST ASK on a job interview  “What about helping other staff? If I’m asked by other staff members in the same department to leave my work and help them – is that my responsibility?”

There is a point where you MUST learn to ask for help when you need it.  know that when I’m hired, I’m hired to do a certain job and that job may not be “Help all other staff do their job responsibilities”.

I have finally found my weakness. I was TOLD from another supervisor at my last employer.  I don’t ask for help.   “Sandra, you are so good at what you do. You just need a little help. You don’t stand up for yourself.  You need to speak up when you need help!  You are good on the phones. You speak clearly. You need to learn to stand up for yourself”.

That is the objective this year.  LEARN HOW TO SPEAK UP.