Learn about taking care of yourself.
- I'd like to share a story with you. A young lady worked as the Executive Assistant in a non-profit organization. She was fresh out of college and her job was typical for someone in her position. She handled administrative duties for the president and managed HR. After only a few weeks of working there, she realized she was working with a bully. The guy yelled all the time, really uber-micromanaged her and everyone else in the office, whether they reported to him or not, and even bullied the president.
As the organization grew, the Assistant's role morphed into a full-time HR Director position. And as the bullying grew worse, dealing with the bully became a full-time position, too. Many of the staff members came to the HR Director seeking help. They'd have a rough interaction with the bully and they wanted to report it to HR. She would always go and tell the president about these complaints, and yet, he would always say, "Tell them not to let it bother them, that's just how he is." And when the HR Director reported her personal encounters with the bullying behavior, the president would say, "You've got to be the bigger person here." Exhausted from being bullied herself, and from trying to protect the staff, her work suffered.
She started showing up late and leaving early. She had to drag herself out of bed every morning to work. In fact, she had a sign over her alarm clock that said, "Get up!", as if she needed a reminder to get out of bed. She was depressed. Her inability to perform finally caught up with her, and one day the president showed up in her office to find out what was wrong. Conflict avoidant as he was, not only had he let the bullying get out of hand, but he had let the HR Director's poor performance get out of hand, too.
She burst into tears and told the president she hated working there and she put in her two week's notice. The president said, "If you're that unhappy, you can leave right now." With her tail between her legs, or rather, with my tail between my legs, I left. After six months, I got a new job at a startup tech firm, but about a year later, the investor stopped investing and we were out of money, so many of us were laid off.
That day, I drove home from work, walked in the door, opened my laptop and bought a website. I poured my heart into it, and everything I knew about bullying. Within a few days, I declared I was an HR Consultant who focused on solving bullying. Within a few months, I was making a presentation at an international workplace bullying conference. And within a year, I'd had several clients and my business took hold. Here I am now, an internationally recognized expert on bullying and filming courses with LinkedIn Learning.
I've authored two books, and I've served Fortune 500 companies. I share my story because I want you to know, there's hope. I want you to know that your story doesn't end with you on the floor, your dignity smashed by a workplace bully. You are more than work. You are more than this. You are better than this. The thing is, you have to take care of you. No one, and I mean no one, is responsible for your emotions or the way you're treated.
If you want something to change, you have to change it. And I'm not the only one who has a success story. There are plenty of us out there. The National Workplace Bullying Coalition has compiled some of them into a book, Stand Up, Speak Out against Workplace Bullying: Your Guide to Survival and Victory Through 23 Real-life Testimonies, might help you see that if you take action, you will survive. Take care of you!
- Defining workplace bullying
- Reframing the situation
- Building your confidence
- Assertively standing up for yourself in person and in emails
- Changing your body language
- Gathering documentation
- Communicating with HR