Tuesday’s post about the idiot producer’s assistant on my show generated a lot of feedback. Some of it was violent (I hope they were kidding), but quite a few people suggested I should stand up for myself. It sounds fun in theory, but here’s where I put my practical hat on.
While proclaiming your innocence and simultaneously throwing the idiot assistant under the bus might be cathartic, there are a lot of potential negative ramifications.
If your boss is in a sour mood, almost anything you say could be interpreted negatively. If I were to “grow some balls1 and stand up for [myself],” as Superduper suggested, my reasonable explanation of events might be viewed as simple excuse-making. The line between an explanation and an excuse can be a thin one, and some people have difficulty telling the difference.
Also, blaming someone else is usually regarded as a negative trait, even when you’re assigning blame accurately. You don’t want to be The Guy Who Never Takes Responsibility.
Of course, you don’t want to be The Fuck Up, either. If you took the blame for everything, eventually they’d have to fire you. But A) things don’t get fucked up all that often, and B) you should be such a rock star PA that your good qualities far outweigh your screw ups, even when the screw ups are not really yours.
Sometimes You Have to Tell It Like It Is makes a valid point:
I’ve actually had my UPM ask me questions to verify *I* did my job correctly so they can give shit to whoever/whichever dept DID screw up – kind of like a “Don’t blame my guys if it’s yours that are f-ing it up.”
Here’s where you have to use your discretion. Is your boss really asking what went wrong, or is he just shouting words at you? Just like he might misread your explanation as an excuse, you might confuse his venting for a legitimate question. The producer’s assistant screwed up, the producer and the UPM are mad, you’re upset because he’s upset; jumping into defense mode is natural. But, for all the reasons stated above, it might be wrong.
So, err on the side of sucking it up and taking your licks, unless you know your UPM really well, and can read his moods even when you’re aggravated yourself.