Saturday, March 11, 2006

Prejudice Just Got More Subtle

I was in Detroit for a meeting with a customer yesterday. He may very well be the most annoying, anal and frustrating customer the company has ever had. And lucky me, I got to manage my second commercial contract with him. The frustration and beratement of the team got so bad that we had our President's permission to walk out if they started yelling at us during the presentation.

There was no yelling from him. One of our executives talked with his boss and his "priorities were realigned". Thank you.

The meeting actually went pretty well, except for one point. I don't think anyone noticed it but myself.

One of the older guys in the company attended the meeting. He had been really helpful in dealing with our frustrating customer and he is pushing to do more work with us. Good ally to have; however, he never acknowledged my existence. I traveled with 4 male coworkers and he introduced himself to every one of them and wouldn't make eye contact with me. I even sat next to him. When we passed samples around the room, he wouldn't look at me and would just kind of slide things in my direction. All of his efforts of excluding me were so subtle I didn't know what to do. I'm still not 100% he was trying to exclude me, but he did treat me differently than all the other guys in the room.

I don't want to sound like some angry woman with a chip on her shoulder, but that's not the first time things like that have happened. They have always been sutble, almost unobservable messages that I don't belong in the engineering or business world. Every encounter leaves me wondering if maybe I really don't belong. Maybe I'm not qualified. Many times I feel like I just need to suck it up, in order for my company to maintain a good reputation. It also makes me so thankful to work for a company doesn't treat me like that.

So what would you have done in my situation?

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