Honest question. I had a very strange thing happen to me at work today. Not sure how I want to handle it. Leaning toward doing nothing. Sorry this is long, but OMFG!
I was in a meeting today with 5 other coworkers and 2 on the phone. It was just a informative meeting explaining a release. A VP was giving the presentation. He was projecting his laptop to show powerpoint slides. The two participants on the phone couldn't see the projection as it wasn't shared. The VP presenter had his skype on.
There was no formal round table of "this is who is present at the meeting" but you'd know if you had paid any attention to the meeting notice. Anyway.
About 10 mins in, a skype message popped up on the projection. I was sitting farthest away from the screen and couldn't read what it said, but the VP presenting didn't even break stride and just minimized it. I could read though that it was from the VP of Sales who was on the phone but couldn't see the projection because it wasn't shared to phone participants (and he actually didn't absorb that his messages were showing up to everyone).
About another 10 mins later, the VP presenter and I were engaged in about a 5 minute discussion about why something was engineered the way it was. No biggee. I see another skype message pop up on the projection from the same VP on the phone call (to the VP presenter). The presenter doesn't notice it and is addressing my questions. The guy sitting exactly next to the presenter gets this horrified look on his face and looks right at me, then back to the VP presenter - obviously trying to get his attention. A minute passes and then the VP presenter sees his neighbors face, looks at the projection screen, and just cuts off mid sentence! He looks at me and then tries to quickly minimize the message. He is quite obviously flustered and embarrassed. There is silence and then he sputters out, "VP OF SALES! I am projecting my laptop! Everyone can read your messages!" His neighbor echos the same thing.
Now.... silence. Awkward awkward silence. Phone guy says NOTHING. Finally VP Presenter recovers a bit and says "uhm well I guess you would be meaning Anny then." Then he just continues with his presentation.
I am sitting there like WTF??? WHAT did it say??? Phone guy obviously didn't know it was me talking. Was it just the typical male catty remark like "Who is the skirt in the room?" or was it something like an attack on the questions and dialog occurring? IDK!
After the meeting ended 1.5 hours later (and phone guy did NOT speak again), I yanked the other girl in the room aside who was sitting very close to the projection and asked her what it said. She said she did not catch it in time to read it, but saw the first one and it was about her to the affect of "won't that girl stop talking". She did acknowledge it was quite obvious that the second was about me from the shock and awe waves from the VP presenter and his neighbor.
BTW I have previously had a very good professional relationship with phone guy and I am not taking whatever he skyped personally because it is obvious he didn't know it was me from the VP presenter's reply... but.... WTF?
I won't ask the VP Presenter what it said. We don't have a "sharing" relationship. But I could ask his neighbor who is a sales guy who only visits the office 2 or 3 times a year. However, the person who sent it IS HIS BOSS.
I can't deny that I am DYING to know. I am not taking whatever was skyped personally because I know Phone VP Guy didn't know it was me or the response wouldn't have been basically "uhhh that's anny". STILL....
To the VP phone guy? I thought about that, but he is a sales guy (and I apologize in advance to every sales guy out there) but they LIE. I wouldn't believe anything he told me.
Plus I played it like I saw it. Poker face. P-P-P-P poker face. He couldn't see that though.
ETA: I got a phone call that I didn't answer about an hour ago from a phone number not in my phone. But I know VP phone guy has access to my number. Going to check it out tomorrow to see if he tried to offline call me.
This message has been edited by AnnyBoo on Apr 19, 2012 10:25 PM
Ouch. I hope that if I were you, I would choose to take comfort in knowing that your colleagues in the room didn't appear to find whatever it was even remotely funny or appropriate. Having worked in male-dominated workplaces my entire life, I expect to work with at least one neanderthal and don't let it bother me that much. If the people I respect were to shrug or smirk at the neanderthal behavior, it would be really demoralizing.
Really don't have any answers, but I imagine the VP and others in the room will appreciate it if you don't initiate a discussion about it. They know that he screwed up and he knows that he screwed up and there's always the possibility that they will feel like they owe you a favor if you don't get dramatic about it.
Giving it a little more thought, you do have an opportunity to really make yourself look good. If VP Presenter or somebody else important brings it up, you can say something like, "Sales VP appears to have respect issues. Is there something I am doing to contribute to that, and what can I do to improve our interactions?". You'll come out looking mature, professional and like a real team player. Also, you won't be giving up the fact that you don't know what he said. Sales VP doesn't know that you don't know and you don't want to mitigate his squirming.
I'm guessing from reading your description that Phone Guy made a snide remark about the engineering question you asked.
I wouldn't take it personally either because the comment would have been the same no matter who asked the question.
The question may have been something that either everyone else already knew the answer to or that no one else in the meeting needed or cared to know about. A 5 minute sidebar when you have a captive audience can be really annoying.
I would definitely NOT take the passive agressive approach that PearlGurl posted above.
I see the appeal, but I think it would be best to actually be more professional than the phone guy and let it go.
As dumb as it was to do, the guy thought only the presenter could see his comments. I'm guessing they have more of a blunt style of communication with each other than what would be deemed appropriate in a corporate meeting setting.
Granted, I have no clue what actually went on there but, let's say the roles were reversed and my guess about an irrelevent question is correct.
If the Phone guy asked a dumb question, wouldn't everyone at the conference table give each other a giant eyeroll or the equivalent of one?
Of course they would.
I worked in a maled dominated field for years, and learned the best way to succeed is to act is like a man. and jiggly had the man answer, do nothing, move on and forget it. all the men will be greatful and say to each other, "so glad Anny didn't get hysterical about that, must not be her time of the month, thank god" and move on. But they'll respect you for acting like a man.
No advice, but reminds me of Mrs. complaining this week about one of the high executives in her company continually using the term "finding the sweet spot" during a conference call to the point where it creeped her out.
1) Steal the laptop and impersonate VP presenter using text messaging.
2) Get VP meeting interrupter to admit derogatory statements and feelings towards VP Anny.
3) Blackmail VP interrupter for 50% of wages.
4) Flee to a country with no extradition treaty.
I echo what Appy said and I've worked in both men and women dominated companies.
Even though you may be the offended one, sometimes it's best to keep your head down and your mouth shut. I had to learn the hard way.
Well duh, acting hysterical of course. Run to the bathroom crying every time you see phone guy. Refusing to sit next to him. Stomping your foot and refusing to do any work until he apologizes, with chocolate.
"Really don't have any answers, but I imagine the VP and others in the room will appreciate it if you don't initiate a discussion about it. They know that he screwed up and he knows that he screwed up and there's always the possibility that they will feel like they owe you a favor if you don't get dramatic about it."
Which is exactly what Jiggy and others said after me. I then added that Anny should think about ways to make herself look good if somebody else brings it up. Perhaps it doesnt seem so for somebody as grammatically challenged as yourself, but that "if" is of importance. Your writing has become increasingly incomprehensible as your hurry to stir the pot gets in the way of rudimentary sentence structure, but there is no excuse for your lack of reading comprehension. You had over 36 hours to read and reread what I wrote and craft your pathetic response.
ETA because network54 eats punctuation.
This message has been edited by pearlgurl on Apr 21, 2012 10:54 AM
I think I get it. Where I don't see an issue, some folks do.
I think resolving the issue would be pretty unsatisfying.
If the same thing happened to me and I felt something needed to be said about it, I would have asked right then "Was that a dumb question or something that I should have asked about after the meeting?" and since I'm a guy, phone guy would give me an honest answer. "Yes, it was a dumb question because we just gave the answer 5 minutes ago. Weren't you paying attention?" or whatever. That would have been the end of it and I wouldn't be butthurt about it in the least.
I don't think a woman would get an honest answer to the question simply because the guy knew he was busted and he would just try to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible.
"Was that a dumb question to ask?"
" No, no, no, no, I'm just getting impatient for the meeting to finish up because I have a million other things to get done by the end of the day. I sincerely apologize."
You most certainly would not get an honest answer if the question was posed the way PG phrased it in her second reply.
You have respect issues, what do I have to do to fix that? Reeks of an HR complaint for creating a hostile work environment.
You would get the immediate apology again and everyone would know that they need to walk on egg shells around you from then on.
Jiggy, I said "if VP Presenter or somebody else important brings it up". I did not advise Anny on what to say to Phone Guy, the offending party. That is a completely different discussion. In speaking to people other than him it shows that she wants to resolve things internally instead of running to HR. Huge difference. Without knowing what Phone Guy said, it's difficult to craft an appropriate response that could encompass something as mild as "Sheesh, didn't she read the white paper that went out last week?" to something as offensive as, "Does she think that showing off her aged bosom makes up for not knowing her job?". If it was something truly offensive, giving a total "Oh, whatever, no biggie" response IF SOMEBODY ELSE BRINGS IT UP would show a lack of self respect and reflect poorly on her. Of course, there is the option of saying, "I couldn't read what he said from where I was sitting and I probably don't need to know", which would be a good response, but not much fun.
I really do appreciate this discussion as it has many tangents to explore. And I think we are definitely getting there.
Just to lay some misnomers to rest, the VP presenter made it overtly clear from the beginning that he welcomed and encouraged discourse. He didn't want this to be a presentation, but an interactive discussion. He said "Please, please, stop me at any point" and continued to do so throughout the two hours of the meeting. I just cut that short as my post was already long.
Second... it wasn't a dumb question that I asked. It wasn't even a question in fact. I was drilling down a bit on the way the engineering team had managed to effectively tackle a problem of video that had stumped them for quite some time. Their solution affected the product road map in a way that seemed a bit one off for me (You Tube uses a different "Get" response code than every other content provider, but because You Tube is arguably the largest, we needed to make a concession to engineer this way). I was curious how this would impact our future considerations for support to content providers who might stray off the common path, thus affecting our customers and their analytic info (in regard to reporting bandwidth savings), thus affecting the sales team (how they represent to prospective customers what we will stretch to do or not), and quite possibly an issue for troubleshooting for our customer support team with non-standard engineering methods - all areas represented in the meeting. And this discussion, although only 5 mins long, did engage others even though I initially raised it. Whenever there is a one-off, documentation becomes pretty customized, which makes it cumbersome and more costly.
I don't want to take a wide swipe at sales guys, but I will. I know what it was, or at least I am pretty sure I know what the comment was. It had more to do with "Who is the new/unrecognized skirt voice in the room" rather than "who is the idiot derailing the meeting". And I would like him to own his comment.
I agree with Coolbreeze. One thing that hasn't been discussed and should be considered is that Phone Guy and VP Presenter are presumably chummy enough that VPP would have been okay with the comment if it hadn't been projected for the rest of the room. So no matter how offensive the comment was, Anny has to assume that they are buddies.
Appy is spot on. For as much as you should ask you male counterparts to embrace sensitivity in their dealings, you should also strive to understand the male, "shrug and move on" philosophy. If it doesn't threaten your job, advancement, or $$ and is not harassment or inappropriate - best to move on and just be aware.
Sometimes, men and woman do the equivalent of eye rolling over IM/internet. Unless its a systemic issue, better to be forgiving but cautious.