I've got a question for all of you on this fine Wednesday. One I've been chewing on for the last few weeks and I'm still perplexed over it. Ready?
Why is doing the right thing so damn hard?
Now I'm not talking about seeing someone drop his wallet and making the choice to pick it up and give it back to him. That's a moral issue between you and your conscience (God). What I'm talking about is doing the right thing on a day to day basis with your friends, employers, business associates, etc.
For example... I've got a friend who has to turn in his receipts for work. Not an uncommon occurrence, right? Lot's of people have to do it. He gathers them together, writes down the date, receipt name and amount and submits them for reimbursement. Should be easy.
But it's not.
Each week he suffers over which receipts he should submit and what he shouldn't. And not for the reason you'd think. Each and every receipt he has IS reimbursable. All show money he's put out for the company. But he worries that if he puts too many in, the PTBs will get upset with him and he'll have trouble.
WTF? It's in his contract that ANY work receipts will be paid for by his employer. He's not trying to pad his expense account. I've seen what he's submitting, and they are all legit. But because his HR department gives employees the fish eye whenever they do submit--going so far as to make them bring in their contract and point it out to them--many say forget it and wind up eating all or part of the expenses.
I think that's wrong. Just when did doing the right thing, in the right way become so hard?
Another case in point. And this one has happened to me in the past. I've got an author friend --pretty new to the game-- who signed with one of the bigger houses. She had a lawyer go through her contract to make sure she was comfortable with all the legalese. She negotiated in good faith and won some changes as well as lost some. But when she signed, she was happy with the outcome of the talks. She sent in her book and waited for the whole process to start.
And that's where things started to go horribly wrong.
She got a note from her editor saying she had to make changes. Again, not an uncommon occurrence, but the changes she was told she had to make were not ones stipulated in her contract. She wrote back and explained that to the editor. Very professionally I might add. I saw the letter.
The editor (an absolute bitch, I'll put in here) replied saying the changes still had to be made contract or no contract. And if my friend didn't do it within the time period stipulated, they would be forced to nullify the contract. And or begin legal proceedings.
Confused, my friend contacted the publisher and explained what was going on. To her surprise, she was sent a note saying not to be such a DIVA. Yeah. In those words. She was told to do what the editor wanted. Gamely, my friend pushed on, cutting and pasting the part of the contract where the publisher was ignoring and explaining yet again why what they were asking wasn't right.
This time she got a reply from the editor. A very icy reply retracting her request, but doing it in such a way my friend felt like she'd gotten a horsewhipping. Edits came and went and the whole time the editor acted like a total snot just because my friend insisted on following the contract. The horrors. An author who follows the contract!!!
She also had problems with the cover art. It was very good, but when they asked for her opinion (don't miss that part--they ASKED for her opinion) she mentioned she'd like to see the title a little bigger. Thought it would pop more.
You'd think she'd cut their heart out. She got a NASTY letter from the cover editor saying she had no right to request changes. She wasn't an artist. She had no idea the time and effort... Blah, blah, blah.
By this time she was pretty much fed up with the company. She wrote back, again very professionally, that if they hadn't wanted her opinion on the cover, they shouldn't have asked. She cut and pasted the offending part and sent it back.
This time she heard nothing, but the font on the cover was made bigger.
You'd think it was over, right? But when the book was published, they'd forgotten to put the copyright info on the inner page. And when my friend saw that, she didn't know what to do. Should she do the right thing and tell them? Or let it go so she wouldn't have to listen to yet another diatribe of venom from them?
And that's just ridiculous. Why should doing the right thing make you a pariah?
If you have the right to do something, why is it people can make us feel so guilty when we use those rights? Whether it is a contract (you DO NOT want to get me started), working with an editor (we are partners working together for a common goal. It's NOT personal if I choose not to use one of your edits), free speech (no, I'm not talking about stupid stuff, but just speaking out your opinions, whether it be religion, politics, gay marriage or animal cruelty), or being told something is wrong when you know damn well it isn't.
Fear has started to rule our actions and that is a slippery slope, my friends. I have been told I'm a black and white type of person and I agree with that assessment. But I just don't see why speaking the truth about something in work, relationships or anything else is so wrong as long as you do it politely and/or professionally. Being afraid to do something or speak out because you a) might get in trouble, even though you're in the right, b) don't want to make waves or 3) know you'll have to fight to do the right thing, is stupid and shouldn't be allowed to go on.
Politics is a dirty business and it's everywhere. Not just in the government. If my author friend can't point out her contract to remind them of what's right, and is worried about what they might do to her career, that's politics. If my other friend has to eat beans because he was too afraid to be reimbursed for expenses, that's politics. And if I see something wrong in one of my books and point it out, yet am called a DIVA because I had the temerity to do so, that too, is another form of politics.
And I don't do politics very well. In fact this quote, from an unknown author sums it up quite nicely...
We live in a world in which politics has replaced right and wrong. ~ Author Unknown
What do you think of politics in the workplace or in interpersonal relationships? How many times have you had to pull back from doing what was right so you wouldn't make any waves? Share your opinion in the comments below. I'm curious as to how everyone sees their world around them.
Until Wednesday when I'll be back with a fun birthday blog for you all!!!