Today we are featuring Shannon’s story. She spoke about workplace bullying on the Dropping Bombs on Bullying podcast.
From her first job as a staff nurse until now, Shannon shared about the types of bullies she encountered–from the “Screaming Meanie” to the “Constant Critic”–and how they affected her. Her own struggle led her to travel to Bellingham, WA and become certified by Gary Namie’s Workplace Bullying Institute. Shannon learned how to cope and not accept the self blame.
One nugget from her journey to self-love and wholeness:
“Use professionals who specialize in workplace bullying: corporations are very good at combating this, so the first lawyer or therapist with a Groupon might not be the best choice.”
That doesn’t come natural in today’s data or app driven world of quick fixes–many of our competitors simply use algorithms to solve problems. Both the target and the bully often need an individual approach rather than a blanket one. Remember, “Work shouldn’t hurt.” Workplace shootings trend for a day, but the news never follows up with the back story. This is the reality of workplace psychological violence that can turn physical.
So the solution is more rules, right? Bullying policies often don’t work because fear of retaliation causes under-reporting. Take a step back to avoid tunnel vision and really understand what is going on in your workplace. We are here to help, whether in the comments section or our resources and services. As you process how to respond in your own situation, remember Dr. Sood’s quote,
“Dominance may impress, but it is humility that inspires.”
You can also listen to Shannon’s story and insight into workplace bullying on iTunes.
A reporter recently asked us about relationships in the workplace. It has always been our firm belief that isolation is a formidable weapon for bullies except in the face of trusting, authentic work friendships. We recently reviewed cupping and other wellness therapies, but why bother with all that if you can just goof off with your work buddies?
We tend to over complicate in our culture. All the wellness initiatives and brilliant relationship help from people like us tends to be irrelevant if you can just be part of a healthy team–hopefully one more qualified than the tug of war team above who lost in five seconds flat. And that brings us to Obama and Biden.
Unlike his two most recent predecessors, President Obama’s personality seems to draw strength from solitude instead of the presence of others. It would make sense for him to withdraw from the sincere but admittedly bumbling nature of his vice president. Whether or not we agree with their policies, we can clearly see that Obama and Biden decided to compliment each other’s traits rather than push for conformity–a looser President or more scripted VP. Realize that in the workplace, those who seem to share the least in common with you may become your greatest allies. We refuse to start spouting off “synergy” and other buzzwords, but success comes easier when employees are enjoying themselves.
What if the enjoyment stops when we start competing for a position or the boss’s favor? The wise action when pursuing friendships with coworkers is to match vulnerability. If you are talking about how the last meeting made you feel deep inside but your coworker’s conversation is as intimate as the last company newsletter, someone must adjust. Always leave the door open to go deeper, because if toxicity or bullying enters the workplace, employees feel trapped unless they already have coworkers with whom they can share their situation openly and freely. Have you had an experience like that? Start today by not automatically answering, “Fine” when asked about your weekend, but take it slow: no need to start with,
“Michelle made me sleep on the couch in the Oval Office for smoking behind her back and I think Malia’s hurt and angry that I blamed that weird smell from Sunny the dog on her.”
Lastly, the effects from a warm office friendship ripple past the two of you. For proof, look no farther than the “Barry and Joe” memes that are still the best thing online.
Bullying doesn’t necessarily take place when someone gets offended. After all, in today’s world, “offended” often means “have a different point of view.” Because different opinions exist to describe seemingly simple situations, it’s important to understand what bullying is. The Tim Field Foundation defines bullying as conduct that cannot be objectively justified by a reasonable code of conduct, and whose likely or actual cumulative effect is to threaten, undermine, constrain, humiliate or harm another person or their property, reputation, self-esteem, self-confidence or ability to perform.
The Workplace Bullying Institute calls it repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more people of an employee: abusive conduct which is verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation, work interference, sabotage, or a combination of any or all. Incivility or disrespect are more gentle synonyms for bullying, while horizontal violence and lateral violence refer to mistreatment from fellow coworkers or managers and supervisors.
Now let’s define another half dozen terms so you can tell if you’re being bullied. Actually, that’s not necessary because even when we couldn’t define it (probably around kindergarten), we’ve all known when we’ve been treated unfairly. As busy adults, sometimes we need to slow down to fully comprehend a hostile work situation. It’s more subtle because no one is throwing dodgeballs at your head and stealing lunch money.
Are you being bullied? Bullying takes on many forms in the workplace and signs and
symptoms vary. All of a “sudden” is your work not good enough? Are you accused of incompetence despite a history of objective excellence? Do you find yourself feeling sick to your stomach the night before work or obsess about work on your days off? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in a bullying situation. Tell us your experiences in the comments. We’ll explain what do do next in a later post, but besides our website, the Workplace Bullying Institute is a wonderful reference.