In your email, you gave a precis of the story you told in the meeting. I won’t outline it here because most of the details are quite particular and will quickly give your identity away. If my opinion is worth anything, though, it sounds entirely plausible.

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Yes, what you recounted was the kind of back-from-the-brink business success story that doesn’t take place all that often. But that’s what made it worth telling. It certainly doesn’t strike me as grandstanding or self-promotion. In fact, it seems like you didn’t make it about you at all.

Should you be worried about having told the story and embarrassed your workmate? On the contrary, I think you should be (dare I say it) applauded for taking the time to publicly acknowledge the excellent work of the person who reports to you.

To me, bringing team members’ successes to the attention of others is the hallmark of a good manager. If anyone embarrassed your colleague, it was the person who made the remark. But, really, they should be embarrassed by their own behaviour.

I can empathise with people who approach modern corporate settings with a healthy dose of cynicism. In fact, in some workplaces it’s thoroughly essential. But there’s a huge difference between rolling your eyes at some vacuous and self-congratulatory management wank and mocking the genuinely extraordinary efforts of a co-worker.

If you’re concerned that your charge heard the taunt and is feeling down about it, have a chat with them. Underscore your sincerity and the fact you genuinely valued their work.

But please don’t let the mean-spiritedness of one or two office smart-arses force you to second-guess yourself, especially when it comes to advocating for your associates.

Send your questions to Work Therapy by emailing jonathan@theinkbureau.com.au

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