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CEO Reveals The Most Crushing Sentence Ever Said To Her In Her Entire 30-Year Career

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female CEO sitting at desk

Even the most successful people are not immune to life’s most soul-crushing moments. Although a person may appear to “have it all” on the outside does not mean that they aren’t dealing with their own personal problems. 

One CEO who has been in the workforce for three decades proved this to be true and revealed what a colleague once said to her that completely shattered her, despite the successes she achieved in her career. 

A colleague told the CEO that the personal issues she was dealing with outside of work were insignificant. 

Denise Conroy is no stranger to going above and beyond in the workforce. In her 30-year career journey, she has worked as a CEO, a Fortune 500 Chief Marketing Officer, a for-profit board director and a public commissioner. 

Anyone on the outside would probably assume that she had it all. What many of us and her colleagues most likely did not realize was that while her career was taking off, her personal life was in shambles. According to Conroy, her husband of 21 years was having an affair.

“I just did not have the emotional wherewithal to deal with that,” she admitted in a TikTok video that has garnered over 69,000 views. “I’ll never forget how heartbroken I was.” 



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Still, even amid her pain, Conroy continued to show up for work every day, keeping it all together. At the time, she was working at HGTV as a Chief Marketing Officer. While the job had its perks, including a hefty salary and benefits, Conroy claimed that her colleagues were a nightmare to work with. From her very first day on the job, she alleged that a small group of employees, led by the SVP of HR, endlessly harassed her. 



The woman who was in charge of running HR, named Julie, made Conroy’s experience at the job especially miserable. 

“She was just awful to me every single day,” Conroy said. “She gossiped about me, said mean things, would call me into her office frequently to harass me.” 

One day as Conroy was navigating through her marriage troubles, Julie called her into her office where she continued to bully Conroy.

“I said to her, ‘You’ve got to give me a little bit of space here. My marriage is falling apart, everything is falling apart, and I’m heartbroken, and I’m trying my best to show up and do my job, and keep progressing this network every single day,’” Conroy recalled. 

What Julie did next is something that Conroy has never forgotten, even a decade later. “She looked at me stone-faced and she said, ‘I have people who show up every single day and they’re going through cancer treatments, so your husband cheating on you doesn’t exactly rise to my level of compassion.” 

CEO reveals most hurtful thing colleague ever saidPhoto: pixelshot / Canva Pro

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Although the incident devastated her, it also served as a reminder to Conroy of just how much empathy is needed in the workforce.

“We need to give people the benefit of the doubt,” she says. “I will never forget her telling me that I did not deserve compassion.” 

10 years later, Conroy revealed how her second husband’s infidelity, had brought back a lot of her emotions surrounding the incident. “It’s not up to you, or me, or anybody to judge people at work. We’re better off and better served when we give each other the benefit of the doubt.” 

Instead of shaming colleagues or attempting to minimize their problems, co-workers should offer compassion. 

When employees show up for their jobs emotionally drained due to personal turmoils, they may not always give their performance their all. While we may not be able to fix people’s struggles or pain, we can make them feel less alone and improve their self-esteem by demonstrating sensitivity and empathy towards them during difficult times. 

In fact, empathy in the workplace can benefit the company as a whole. If employees are given grace from those around them, it can lead to greater confidence, higher levels of loyalty, and improved work performance. People are naturally inclined to work harder for companies that demonstrate compassion and empathy toward them. 



There is also something to be said about Julie telling Conroy that her problems were insignificant just because other people were going through more difficult obstacles such as cancer treatments. We must remember hardships are not a competition and pain is universal. In simpler terms, just because your best friend broke their leg doesn’t mean that your sprained pinkie finger doesn’t hurt. 

All of us, even the most successful people in the workforce, encounter challenges that can be an obstacle to productivity. 

It doesn’t cost us anything to cut them a break. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.