Conflict Stories


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They were late picking me up -- and I survived!

A minor inconvenience gets fixed up -- and it stays minor

It happens to all of us at one time or another: something goes wrong, we wind up delayed or otherwise inconvenienced. Most of the time it's no big deal, although depending on how it's handled it can seem like a big deal at the time.

Listening Well Brought Me a Great Client

“They didn’t listen to me” was Lenny’s explanation, “or maybe I should say they didn’t listen enough. They were polite and all, but they didn’t seem to think that I knew much about what was happening other than ‘my computer’s broken.'"

Gangs of Chicago

In which my boss, our dates, and I come face to face with trouble with a capital T.

Stay In Your Field (We’ll get paid sooner if you do)

I remember when I began to realize how unimportant 'enjoying my work' was to the world at large.

The fact that I did not want to continue in this direction was completely irrelevant to these people; my staying in my current field represented the quickest path to their commission so that was that as far as they were concerned.

I Hated Every Minute Of It

My uncle took over a family business that had been started by his grandfather (my great-grandfather) when he was a young man. I never did hear all of the details but the family gossip indicated that there were some underhanded things that went on in the family that resulted in my uncle's inheriting the business.

Years later, toward the end of his life, I visited my uncle at the family business...

Always Have an “Or Else”

The hypocrisy of the “no ultimatums” policy is somewhat galling when you think about it.


The underlying premise in most work environments, especially when management issues things like wage freezes is pretty much “our way or the highway.” A more accurate policy would be “no ultimatums for you (or else!)”

Treat Me Wrong, Treat Me Right: Who Decides?

The part that I liked most of all in this little drama was Jack's response. He would stand up in the middle of the meeting, and proclaim -- rather loudly -- something like this:

'Gentlemen, it says in the Bible that no man shall serve two masters. When you decide which of you is going to make this decision, please let me know and I will do my best to get the job done at that point.'

What are some of the “issues” about various kinds of work?

The first thing that comes to mind is the inescapable fact that when you go to work for an organization and start accepting a paycheck from them, their priorities and values become yours. Obviously this may not actually happen in every case but the pressure is there: this is what they are paying you to do, to take on their values, priorities, and goals and help to accomplish them.

The Eloquence of Cash

A standard arrangement for many companies selling just about anything is an inside / outside sales team: the outside rep calls on the customers and prospects, the inside counterpart supports the selling effort in various ways: telephone follow-ups, routing orders through the system, handling emergencies, as well as many others.

I won't do this any more

If I needed the money so badly that I would in effect take it away from little old ladies, somebody might as well shoot me.

It's not that often that I can point to one specific event in my life that wound up triggering other events, but in the case of my job in pharmaceuticals, I can. I can remember exactly when I decided that I would not work for this company any more.

No such thing as an unloaded pencil...

A couple of lifetimes ago I made my living as a salesman for a power transmission systems dealer. This is a story of a somewhat challenging sales call. It was a potentially big account so I brought my boss with me -- which wound up making things a little more challenging.

This particular prospect was a middle management type for one of the big seafood processing plants in the Los Angeles area. Our discussion came around to reliability, which was understandably enough a topic of enormous importance to him and his company.

Ruby in Houston

Ruby was somewhere in her 60s when I first met her; one of those seemingly ageless Southern women that can pretty much do whatever needs to be done. Even better: she had the most delightful attitude and overall approach to things – people liked her, trusted her, and respected her.

On the Ropes: Tough Interview

Hydraulics in Southern California

Paul-Munroe Hydraulics, which I don't believe exists today as a separate entity, was founded (I believe) sometime shortly after the end of World War II by two bright young fellows named Bill Paul and Ted Munroe. These gentlemen found themselves in Southern California at the beginning of what has come to be known as a wonderful and prosperous time in the history of the United States, the post-World War II boom.

The "Molly" Story

Surprise! The next time I went down to see how Molly was doing, I was amazed -- she had totally changed her ways. Unlike before, she was genuinely paying attention to each and every customer, nice as could be to them in addition to getting their orders filled efficiently.