The failed friend: Can they be trusted as a work reference?
Why I’ll never agree with Molly’s side of the ‘Insecure’ recommendation debate
While scowling at the screen last Sunday, I listened to Molly give Issa excuse-after-excuse about why she wouldn’t help her “best friend” Issa with a block party plug. Fans of “Insecure” know this bathroom scene already. They’ve watched the HBO show and have debated endlessly about the status of the ladies’ friendship, not getting boyfriends involved in business and Issa’s career woes. While all of those points are valid, I just kept thinking one thing.
I tweeted, “I’m not about to put somebody’s passion project at risk because we’re on funky terms. I was a work reference for somebody I don’t mess with at all, and I still gave him a GLOWING review. He got the job too. Don’t mess up people’s $$$ b/c you’re having petty disputes.”
Separating your personal life from professional success
It is very rare that I will ever turn down a hard-working co-worker as a reference. We don’t have to be friends. I don’t have to want to hang out with you. But if I genuinely feel that you would do a good job with [insert company here], I’m vouching for you. If I see an opportunity for a new job or client, your name will come up. I’m the (un)paid publicist for my entire social circle. In fact, the person who I was referring to in the tweet above was accepted into two major organizations — one educational and the other professional.
Although I won’t go into specifics about why we stopped speaking (no, we never ever were intimate), at some point we had a falling out. But once upon a time, we were legitimate friends — after-work dinners, inside jokes and an endless amount of snarky texts. Still though, we were not friends at the time he asked me to be a work reference. But when I saw the “Contact Us” website email from a familiar name, I immediately said “yes.” No hesitation. Why? If I can help you pay your bills and know you’re a solid worker, that green light will never change. For that reason alone, I’ll never understand Molly’s decision. Some business is personal, but it is fairly easy to separate the two.
The bigger issue: Do we undermine each other’s success?
While the ongoing debate regarding last week’s episode focuses on their rocky friendship terms, my concern with Molly is larger. The lawyer has been ridiculing Issa’s block party event all season. And before that, Molly kept stepping on her black employees’ toes at a new law firm (after complaining about working for a white one). She has an annoying habit of getting in her own way and everyone else’s — whether she likes them or not. Everybody is competition with this lady. She’s the very worst of CliftonStrengths “Competition” analysis.
And that’s where I think Molly has failed as both a friend and as a professional. Yes, Issa was a Lyft driver who hung out on her ex’s couch. But she was also a hard-working educator and mentor for children way before the ride-sharing service. Molly is so focused on Issa’s mistakes that she’s completely overlooking her friend’s prior professional achievements.
Something in her character believes she knows the Issas of the world will fail and she cannot vouch for them. So even when she can see proven results and progress for what Issa is doing, she’s still convinced herself that this is not someone she can vouch for. That’s the worst kind of friend and colleague to possibly have. She will drag a barrel around with her wherever she goes and try to throw you in — whether you’re a crab or not. Meanwhile I’d rather see my cohorts win, even if I want no parts of hanging out for maki anymore.
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