Advice: "My manager sent me an innappropriate message and then deleted it. It made me uncomfortable. Should I bring it up?"

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Dear Quota Team,

I’m an inside sales rep at an (approximately) two-thousand person company. I’ve been here for four years, give or take, and I am generally happy with the job. However, something happened a few weeks ago that is making me question what I should do and whether I even want to stay here long-term.

We use slack as an internal communications tool. There are different channels, for the individual sales teams, the larger sales organization, and other, locked channels where the sales managers communicate between them. 

A few weeks ago, I happened to be in slack when a new direct message popped up. It was from my sales manager, and it was obviously not meant to go to me, meaning, he sent it to me accidentally. I am assuming that he meant to send it to another manager, because I doubt he would have talked like that to another sales rep.

In the message, it’s unclear who he is talking about, but he’s talking about one of the reps, and basically was mocking him in a super mean way. He even used a derogatory word for people with intellectual disabilities that I won’t type here. I was blown away. It’s possible that he was talking about me, but the things he was saying didn’t really line up with my performance, so I can’t assume it was about me (though I’m not ruling it out).

A few seconds after I read the message, it was deleted, or unsent, so it disappeared. But I definitely managed to read the whole thing once before it did. Now, I honestly feel incredibly uncomfortable at work, and see my manager in a completely different light. He hasn’t said a word to me about, and didn’t really act weird or anything after, but it’s definitely changed things for me. Should I bring it up to him, or maybe tell somebody above him what happened? Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me. 

Stunned in the U.S.


Dear Stunned,

Tough situation. Unfortunately, you probably can’t bring it up to him or anyone at the company since it was deleted, and you technically don’t have any proof. Of course, you could ask him about it, but the most likely outcome is that he’ll deny or (depending on his character) try to manage you out of the company. 

If you’re looking to change the manager’s character by bringing it up, then good luck. This is who they are deep down, and all you’re likely to do is create more problems for yourself. Of course, if you feel strongly about it, you can go to Human Resources, but again, without proof (screenshot) of what happened, it will merely be your word against theirs. 

If you don’t think you can continue at the company, then you might want to consider switching jobs. It’s really difficult to work for somebody who you don’t respect, or who you know is not a good person. And if you go this route, perhaps you can mention it during your exit interview. But the bottom line is that you got a glimpse into the way some people talk when they don’t think anybody is listening. And, as you just found out, sometimes, it’s just not very pretty.  

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