Are you playing ball? 

Note 1: This article was not written or endorsed by Christelyn Karazin, Nicole or any other writers on the blog.

Note 2: *Names have been changed to protect the innocent or not so innocent. 


“You need to play ball, or you won’t have a future here,” I remember those words quite clearly. It was about Christmas, quite a few years ago, when Kirk* sat across his desk with a shark-like smile. When I chose to isolate myself, focusing on my work instead of mindless chit-chat and endless lunches, he decided to frustrate my work at every turn. Little did he know that his words would be sealing his fate at the company as well. I told a fellow manager, who saw one of our very heated pow wows, as he demanded an explanation. That manager decided to report him and get him his pink slip. What I thought was relief from constant bullying, turned into ignoring and constant stonewalling from colleagues, who had loved Kirk, wrongly assuming that I was the one to rat him out. I began to plot my exit. 


At first, I thought it was a Kirk thing, until Kristen* and I clashed at work, and I walked out of that company with a box three months after I was hired. (No tea there, as I signed a nice little hush-money agreement that held me over for a few months. Around that time, Christelyn threw me a lifeline and allowed me to join the team. I will be forever grateful to her for helping me to get my mojo back.) I also faced it with Lena*, who signed a contract with me, which promised an increase of five thousand dollars per year once I passed probation. I put my head down and worked harder than I ever had in my work career, even putting in unpaid overtime to get jobs done. However, I still was not integrating well with the team. I would give coworkers five minutes maximum of chitchat, and, at times, argue for a more efficient way of doing things. When I passed the probation period and approached my boss to collect on that promise, I was told: “there was no raise.” That last situation stings more than the rest. 


While I could sit here and blame all of my employers for my series of unfortunate events, there must be some personal responsibility at my doorstep. After all, at the end of the day, I was the one common denominator. Could I have been more collaborative? Could I have been more social? Could I have yielded and followed orders more, even when I thought they were completely asinine? Could I have been more grateful for the opportunities I have received? Could I have argued my rightness less? Could I have smiled more? Of course. I am quickly learning that I am not hired to just come as I am. I am hired to be the best fit that I can be. Some give and take are needed, and much of that will be on your end as the supplicant. 


Why do I share my personal failures with all of you? Maybe if I embarrass myself publicly, maybe you will learn from me. Maybe I will do better myself. Maybe I will just have to be content with an article well written. What are the lessons here? We as black women need to learn how to play ball. We are bold, daring, confident and independent. While these qualities help us to move mountains, they also work actively against us in the workplace. I had been considering this article for some time now, after watching the situations with Naomi Osaka and Gwen Berry, but this video sealed the deal for me. 



How many of us have gone to a job wanting to just make our money and go home? How many of us face the frustration of going to a job and having to learn everyone else’s life path number, secret love child, and doggy daycare graduation, before getting a simple job done? Based on some videos on introversion and extroversion, I am understanding that extroverted people gain their energy from socializing. For an introvert like me, chatter without a purpose is tantamount to Chinese water torture. That said, I think that Mrs. Abby on Twitter summed things up perfectly: you need to learn how to play ball. Playing ball opens the doors to hidden opportunities.



Seriously, read the thread to the very end:



I hate to be brutally honest with you, me, the world and his wife, but we need the reality check. No one at work cares about you and your story. No one cares that you are an introvert. If they are paying your salary, they are expecting you to show up in more ways than the job requirements. You will need to attend company dinners. You will need to provide excellent customer service. You will need to spend time waxing poetic with your coworkers, in the name of good relations. You cannot go to someone asking for a job and then expect to fulfil the job requirements on your own terms. You are not in a position of power here, and the odds are not in your favour. Learn how to dismiss your emotions and morals from things, and play the game until you can get into a position of power. Then you can start to dictate the rules.


I refuse to believe that everyone else at work has drunk the proverbial Kool-aid. I think they understand the games, the rules, and the stakes if they don’t win. Some may truly be that enthusiastic about life and passionate about their coworkers. However, I believe that others who come to work are much more Machiavellian. They all just know that teamwork, constant smiles and honeyed words are a way to get ahead. If you want to play in the big leagues, you must learn the rules, submit to them, and master them. Then, you can start to colour outside of the lines. 


If you play their game well, they will pat you on the head and give you a few percentage increases in pay. If you play things really well, and network along the way, you may find a mentor, a sponsor, and other allies who will position you well in your career. Christelyn goes over things in more detail in her Pink Pill for Business course. I can tell you that each of her Pink Pill courses has helped me to get rehired, navigate the workforce, and have civil interactions with my colleagues. Could things be better? Of course. I still have to go back through the rest of the Pink Pill courses and make more appropriate changes. I’m especially looking forward to this Introverts event. Things are not as bad as they used to be, and I believe that things could still be better for me and you. Let’s take the Pink Pill and level up. 


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