Dear Corporate: It’s Okay to Be Human


I once had a corporate boss who happened to be at my workplace at the same devastating time I found out a dear client of mine had passed away. I had trained this sweet client twice a week for seven months, and we had inevitably become close. Even though she was not feeling great physically, she always flashed the best smile and displayed the kindest heart. We had laughed, vented, and ultimately shared a lot together as we spent each of her sessions (as well as texting in our “off” time) trying to get her on a healthy path. Unfortunately, she lost her arduous battle to an ongoing illness. Here I was, upon the news of her loss via a phone call from her husband, tears streaming down my face, my chest tight, my mind a blur, and my heart hurting. Like, really aching. I had never lost a client before; she was also a friend to me. I was a blubbering emotional mess, and I will never forget the words this corporate “leader” uttered to me in an almost non-human, robotic tone: “Did you ask her husband if he wants to take over her training?”

No,” I’m so sorry for your loss.” No passing of tissue. No kind gesture. No look of reassurance or even the slightest pang of grief for the loss of our client or the pain I was experiencing.

It was at that exact moment I was reminded that some people truly lack empathy, that some people are no more than snakes in human form with shiny sports cars, dazzling business cards, perfect hair, nice clean, crisp dress shirts, and fancy watches. At that moment, my deceased client was discarded and devalued, her husband was reduced to a number, and my feelings and emotions were utterly tossed aside for the sake of…money. Deep down, I always knew it was true, but here it was *right* in my tear-streaked face amidst my sobs: Some people really do care more about money and numbers than actual human beings. Whether it’s customers, employees, or whomever, individuals do not matter to some; to me, that is incredibly sad. But it is the nature of many (thankfully, not all) corporate leaders.

I have learned to adjust my expectations about corporate treatment and instead, just focus on my clients and my passion for what I do. I am deeply committed to my clients but feel disdain about how corporate treats me (and other employees). Yet, I think with sadness about how many people are servants to their jobs, and at the end of the day, are they truly appreciated? When employees pass away, HR will clean out their office as the family grieves their loss. We are ALL replaceable to our jobs but beyond invaluable to our loved ones. I encourage everyone to work to live, not live to work. Work cannot be your life; if it is, perhaps there will be regret about that choice someday.

Writing is therapy, and as such, here is my open letter to anybody in the corporate world who perhaps gets sometimes lost in the sea of numbers and sales and the bottom line instead of perhaps also focusing on employee and client relationships and the well-being of others. It is possible to be successful AND human. If my message gets through to at least one person, I will consider that a success.

Dear Corporate,

It’s ok to be human.

Yes, numbers matter and results matter, but relationships matter more. People matter more.

Disrespect can breed deflated, disrespectful employees.

Toxicity that trickles down from the “top dogs” will inevitably spawn a turnover of unhappy individuals who want to flee. Don’t you see that?

High-performing employees do not quit the job; they quit you. They quit being devalued, overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.

Your Rolex doesn’t matter to your employees; your attitude and treatment do.

A smile goes a long way.

Eye contact goes a long way.

Respect pays immense dividends.

Transparency empowers your employees and customers.

Model the behavior you wish to see your employees demonstrate…and watch the magic unfold.

Your customers are not dumb; they discern happy employees vs. disgruntled employees. Which do you think they prefer? Which type do you think will retain customers?

Employees remain where they are valued, empowered, trusted, mentored, challenged, and compensated appropriately.

The way you treat people will always be remembered.

The best marketing you can ever do is to keep your employees happy.

Stop underpaying quality employees and then watch them stay and do their job better because they feel valued.

Stop insulting employees with your smirks, smugness, and backhanded comments.

Micromanagement does not lead to better results. Please read that again.

People see and feel your treatment. Please do better.

Empathy goes far; do not underestimate the power of actually knowing your employees and their situations…and then caring.

Balance is good; being a workaholic is toxic.

Encourage employees to take breaks and vacation time; that is not laziness. Burnout is not a badge of honor.

Unplugging is healthy; boundaries are healthy. Please respect giving employees their time off; is texting and e-mailing after hours or on the weekends necessary? Can it wait?

Do you ever stop to look at your employees’ faces? Do you “read” the vibe of the room? Do you recognize the impact you have on employee effort and retention?

Do you look at your Rolex with more respect, excitement, and happiness than those around you?

Do you realize that literally no employee ever left a job because they felt over-appreciated?

A “boss” is very different than a leader. Leaders boost retention; “bosses” incite turnover.

Do you want success and happiness? Can you lead with respect, compassion, and motivation? Because that will ultimately transpire into the results you desire…

Hi there, fellow human. It’s more than ok to be human within your corporate role; please try it out.

Signed respectfully,

A dedicated employee who craves respect for all employees


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