ARE YOU A BULLY MAGNET?
Courage is knowing what not to fear.
HEAD NURSE MOLLY was ten months from retirement when Pauline started work at the clinic. Like the rest of the clinic’s employees, Molly welcomed Pauline aboard, greeting her with flowers on her first day. Pauline took the flowers with barely a glance and handed them to the receptionist, saying “Put these in water.”
Molly, a kind, round-faced woman with warm hazel eyes and wavy auburn hair flecked with gray, had urged the clinic’s physician owners to hire someone like Pauline, saying the clinic had grown to a size that required a clinic administrator in addition to her own head nurse position. When the managing physician asked Molly, “Do you want to supervise her?” Molly responded, “I see us as teammates, each with our strengths balancing and supporting the other.”
For the next two weeks, Molly coached Pauline on the clinic’s intake, staff orientation, patient recordkeeping, and administrative filing systems—all procedures she’d spent more than ten years developing.
Since Molly took pride in her work, it shocked her when Pauline described the systems as “antiquated.” Molly viewed the systems as simple, streamlined, and even elegant, but she swallowed her pride and said, “I’ll support you in making them better.”
“Won’t be necessary,” Pauline sneered.
“You don’t want my help?” Molly asked, thinking she’d misunderstood Pauline’s tone.
“I don’t need your help,” Pauline replied in a voice that could curdle milk.
That night, Molly attended Pauline’s first briefing with the clinic’s physicians, and listened as Pauline told them that bringing clinic systems and procedures up to an acceptable level would take four to six months of hard work as things were in a “pitiful” state. Pauline looked the part of someone who could take the clinic forward. She dressed in immaculate and stylish, if severe, suits.
Molly’s jaw dropped and ice formed in her gut as Pauline continued to trash her work. Molly didn’t know what to say in defense of the clinic’s existing systems, and couldn’t bear to make eye contact with the physicians she’d served for twenty years.
The next morning, the stream of insulting emails started. Although Molly tried to focus on her head nurse duties, she felt obligated to respond to the three or four daily emails outlining in detail errors Pauline alleged Molly had made when she designed the clinic’s systems.
Molly worked ten-hour days until deep shadows formed under her eyes. She finally asked for a meeting with Pauline. Pauline’s new assistant, Max, turned her down, telling Molly that Pauline’s schedule was “tight.”
Molly went home drained, and told her husband she had no idea why Pauline was attacking everything she’d developed.
“Why are you letting this woman do this to you?” asked Molly’s husband.
“She has the credentials the physicians wanted.”
“You’ve worked for them for twenty years.”
“She says she knows what she’s doing.”
“So do you.”
Molly wasn’t so sure anymore.
The next day, Molly saw three emails from Pauline and realized she didn’t want to open any of them.
How had things turned from great to trash?
WHAT MADE YOU A VICTIM? WHAT KEEPS YOU A VICTIM?
If a bully has you in his or her crosshairs, you may look at yourself and wonder if you’re to blame, and for what. You want to know what made you a target.
Let’s turn that around and look at what bullying is.
Workplace Bullying Defined
Workplace bullying is psychological violence and aggressive manipulation in the form of repeated humiliation or intimidation, and may include situational, verbal, or physical abuse.
includes slandering, ridiculing, insulting or persistent hurtful name-calling, and making the target the butt of jokes or abusive, offensive remarks.
includes pushing, shoving, kicking, poking, or tripping the target. It also includes making obscene gestures as well as assault or the threat of physical assault.
involves sabotage and cruel acts of deliberate humiliation and interference.
Workplace bullying and harassment can inflict serious harm upon targeted employees, including feelings of shame, humiliation, anxiety, and depression, along with physical symptoms of distress.
No one deserves to be bullied.
Even if you’ve done many things wrong, even if your self-esteem isn’t the greatest, even if you’ve made a hundred mistakes, don’t take what the bully dishes out as your due.
Bullying is an epidemic. According to a 2014 VitalSmarts survey, 96 percent of the study’s 2,283 respondents experienced workplace
The 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey published by the Workplace Bullying Institute documents that 37 million U.S. workers face “abusive conduct” during their workday. Another 28.7 million witness this abuse.2
To put this into perspective, these 65.6 million people equal the combined population of fifteen U.S. states from the central northern tier to the Gulf of Mexico.
At a minimum, three to four people out of every ten have been bullied. You may well ask, “Can’t I please be one of the other six or seven of those ten?”
Absolutely, that’s why you’re reading this book.
Your first step is to recognize which of the following factors led you into a bully’s crosshairs.
Have something the bully wants
Signal you’re an easy target
Put up with lousy treatment
Bad Luck: A Target on Your Back
A MILITARY WIFE, Gwen interviewed for five weeks before finding an employer willing to hire her despite her husband’s likely transfer to a new base in eighteen months.
On Gwen’s first day on the job, Lisa, the office manager, sat her down and told her she’d do fine if she understood the lay of the land. Eager to make a good impression, Gwen listened to Lisa, who explained that Gwen needed to demonstrate her willingness to be a team player.
Gwen was soon spending hours completing tasks Lisa delegated to her, which prevented her from speedily completing assignments given her by her immediate supervisor. When Gwen told Lisa she couldn’t
manage the extra tasks, Lisa snapped, “You’re not willing to help me out when I’m swamped?”
Gwen hadn’t been bullied before, and she took days to decide what to do. She spoke to her supervisor, who said, “Lisa’s our best, most talented performer. I can’t believe you’re bad-mouthing her when she’s been trying to help you.” As Gwen listened in shock, her fists tightly closed and shoved into her pockets, she learned that Lisa had claimed that Gwen came to her so often for help that Lisa had to log two hours overtime nightly to complete her own assignments.
Landing the wrong job had placed Gwen in a bully’s crosshairs. Has bad luck made you a bully’s target?
Ignore Warning Signs at Your Peril
AFTER A DIVORCE, Mack moved to Colorado and took the first job offered him. When he saw a long list of names as he logged on to Outlook, he asked a coworker about ...