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SNL Skit Offers Good Career Advice

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justin timberlake snl beyonce single ladies video

By J.T. O’Donnell

What can be learned from a comedy skit? Plenty. All humor is rooted in some truth, and this hilarious video is no exception.

In this clip, Beyonce is dealing with some pretty frightening back-up dancers, a.k.a. Justin Timberlake. (Kudos to JT for another funny SNL appearance!) What’s funny is how she hesitates to speak up, even though she knows something is really, really wrong. In an effort to be nice and not make waves on-the-job, she prolongs taking action and things get worse. When she finally gets pushed too far, she calls out the video director on his poor judgment in dancer selection. At which point, he comes clean and admits to Neopotism (he put his step-sons in the video because his wife told him to spend more time with them.)

What’s the lesson to be learned? Follow your instinct and don’t shy away from conflict. How do I know? This happened to me…

Years ago, I joined a company and was assigned to a team who was working on a huge presentation to a big perspective client. At the first meeting I attended, I knew the strategy they had come up with was off-base, but I didn’t want to jump in and seem bossy with my new peers. So, I kept quiet. However, as we progressed, I became more uneasy. I would ask the occasional question in hopes of getting a dialog going that would enable me to point out some errors in judgment, but the team was so caught up in their idea that they couldn’t see the problems. I should have spoken up, but I didn’t – I just didn’t want to make waves that would hurt my ability to build relationships with my new teammates. Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t the right choice.

The big day came and the team presented their concept. It went over like a lead balloon. The team was stunned and depressed. It should come as no surprise that we didn’t get the business. Afterward, we had to go back and explain what happened to upper management. I was sick to my stomach. I hated that I had allowed this to happen without at least trying to make my point. I learned my lesson that day – I’d rather cause a little conflict then to cause a major loss. My job as an employee is to collaborate. Yes, I need to play nice and be a good teammate, but part of that involves speaking up and making sure I share what I know, even if it goes against the mainstream. I let both my teammates and my employer down that day. I swore I wouldn’t do it again.

Moral to the story: When things don’t feel right, find the courage to speak up. Be careful in how you say it, but say it!

Now, tell me your stories. Has this every happened to you? How do you share in difficult situations?

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