Hi Liz,

I’m a senior account executive for a manufacturing firm. I’ve been with the company for 3.5 years.

I’ve never missed my quarterly target.

My boss and I traveled together two weeks ago. We were stuck in the airport because our flight was canceled.

We went to the airport bar. 

Three drinks in, my boss was tipsy. 

Let me add that my boss is a nice person but wimpy. She doesn’t stand up for her team members, or even for herself.

So after three drinks she suddenly says, “You should be a territory manager by now. Amelia loves you. George says why promote you and spend the money because you’re already doing the job anyway.”

Then she laughed, like it was funny. 

For a minute I was stunned, and then I got mad. 

Amelia is my boss’s boss. 

Amelia thinks I should be promoted. George is another VP. He has nothing to do with sales. 

My boss was basically telling me that she would have pushed for me to be promoted but she was afraid of an unrelated VP’s opinion.

We got on our flight. She immediately fell asleep. I doubt she will remember what she told me.

I plan to go talk to Amelia directly and tell her I should be promoted. 

I think she will agree. Then I won’t work for my boss anymore so there should not be any friction with her.

My only question is, is it unethical to use information someone shared with you when they were drunk to advance yourself?



Hi Peter,

It isn’t unethical to use information your boss shared with you to advance your own cause.

You were on a business trip. If she was indiscreet about sharing information with you that is on her, not you.

However that is not the principal issue here.

With all this scheming and cloak and dagger activity, you are wasting your precious and finite emotional energy.

The question here is: why do these people still deserve you?

Amelia loves you but she’s never told you that and she lets George overrule her instinct to promote you.

Amelia also leaves your boss in place – someone you said does not stand up for herself or her teammates – at the risk of losing a great employee like you (and perhaps other people as well).

There is a word for such managers, and the word is “amateur.”

You have a bright future, but your future is not in this job.

The world is big. 

Out in the real world, you will not worry about the fine points regarding when a boss’s drunken ramblings are fair game and when they aren’t. 

This is all beneath you.

Get your résumé ready, put Territory Manager on it since you have your manager’s assurance (by way of George) that you’re already doing the territory manager job, and sail on.

The tipsy tell-all in the airport bar might rate a 60-second scene in your screenplay, but then again it might not.

If Amelia really loves you she can show it by getting her house in order and hiring you back as VP of sales a few years from now.

But by then, you will have much better offers!



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