3 Step System to Confidently Expose Your Bully

Everyday a story emerges alleging sexual harassment perpetrated by powerful individuals over many YEARS. This wave of naming predators has continued to inspire me. It has also brought to the forefront, the unique and complex feelings of shame. When a victim comes forward to tell their story, it is a difficult decision, one that usually was years in the making.

What I continue to find empowering, and cling to tightly, is the simple idea that victims won’t feel broken when they band together. Harassment of any kind and unwanted sexual advances are disgusting actions. Trust in knowing, we have the ability to act together. As a bystander, you have the ability to advocate. You have the option to be on the side of continuing the vicious predatory circle of harassment or you can support and advocate for the victim.

If you have been harassed (mentally or physically) you have the strength to take action.

Don’t be afraid.

The Workplace Bullying Center has wonderful resources. Below is a three step system implemented to give all victims a plan to expose your predator, create a safe space and advocate for the victim.

XOXO,

Jess



Step One – Name it! Legitimize Yourself!


Choose a name — bullying, psychological harassment, psychological violence, emotional abuse — to offset the effect of being told that because your problem is not illegal, you cannot possibly have a problem. This makes people feel illegitimate. The cycle of self-blame and anxiety begins.
The source of the problem is external. The bully decides how to target and how, when, and where to harm people. You did not invite, nor want, the systematic campaign of psychological assaults and interference with your work. Think about it. No sane person wakes up each day hoping to be humiliated or berated at work.


There is tremendous healing power in naming. Hard to believe at first, but very true.

 

Step Two – Take Time Off to Heal & Launch a Counterattack

 

Accomplish five (5) important tasks while on sick leave or short-term disability (granted by your physician).

 

Check your mental health with a professional (not the employer’s EAP). Get emotionally stable enough to make a clear-headed decision to stay and fight, or to leave for your health’s sake. Your humanity makes you vulnerable; it is not a weakness, but a sign of superiority. Work Trauma, by definition, is an overwhelming, extraordinary experience.

 

Check your physical health. Stress-related diseases rarely carry obvious warning signals (e.g., hypertension – the silent killer). Read the current research on work stress and heart disease.
Research state and federal legal options (in a quarter of bullying cases, discrimination plays a role). Talk to an attorney. Maybe a demand letter can be written. Look for internal policies (harassment, violence, respect) for violations to report (fully expecting retaliation).

 

Step Three – Expose the Bully

 

The real risk was sustained when you were first targeted (Targets lose their job – involuntarily or by choice for their health’s sake – in 77.7% of cases). It is no riskier to attempt to dislodge the bully. Retaliation is a certainty. Have your escape route planned in advance. Remember, good employers purge bullies, most promote them.

 

Make the business case that the bully is “too expensive to keep.” Present the data gathered (in Step 2) to let the highest level person you can reach (not HR) know about the bully’s impact on the organization. Obviously in family-owned, or small businesses, this is impossible (so leave once targeted).

 

Stick to the bottom line. If you drift into tales about the emotional impact of the bully’s harassment, you will be discounted and discredited.

 

Give the employer one chance. If they side with the bully because of personal friendship (“he’s a great conversationalist and a lunch buddy”) or rationalize the mistreatment (“you have to understand that that is just how she is”), you will have to leave the job for your health’s sake.

 

However, some employers are looking for reasons to purge their very difficult bully. You are the internal consultant with the necessary information. Help good employers purge.

 

The nature of your departure — either bringing sunshine to the dark side or leaving shrouded in silent shame — determines how long it takes you to rebound and get that next job, to function fully and to restore compromised health. Tell everyone about the petty tyrant for your health’s sake. You have nothing to be ashamed about. You were only doing the job you once loved.

 

Answering critics of this approach …..

 

Pragmatists argue that our 3-Step Method will only get you fired. They are right in most cases. So, it is important for you to know why it is suggested.This  method accomplishes four goals:

Goal 1: Your personal health must be the priority or you will not live long enough to take another job. You have to discover if stress-related health complications have begun and take steps to reverse them. Stress exacerbates diseases that can kill. Put your health, not your job, first. See a physician, ask for blood tests related to stress-induced harm. See a good therapist to restore your faith in your own worthiness.

Goal 2: Too many wounded targets crawl between the bed sheets and can’t get out. You need something to do to continue to function, to bounce back. This task of estimating the fiscal impact of bullying is not only factual and informative for the organization (which it promptly chooses to ignore), but the employer’s response to the facts will help convince you about the irrationality of the entire bullying process. You didn’t cause it and they don’t seem to care if it ever stops. They are too afraid to do the right thing.

Goal 3: Compel employer responsibility for putting you in harm’s way. No one is responsible for being bullied, for inviting the misery upon themselves. The employer has known about the bully before and chosen to retain him or her (attorneys call it negligent retention). Employers want a catfight between employees so that they can blame it on “personality conflict.” The reality is that employers establish all conditions of work. If there are poorly skilled managers or executives, it is because of a dereliction of duty. Employers are lazy and trust on-the-job experiences to teach people to be good and humane managers. This is wrong. The leadership team is responsible for all bullying! It would not happen without executives’ explicit or tacit approval. So, hold their feet to the fire. Expose the bully. Demand changes (for the sake of the organization).

Goal 4: Take control of your departure from the place. WBI research found that you have a 66% chance of losing your job once targeted. Exposing the bully is more about your mental health than being an effective way to get the bully fired. Trauma is intensified if you leave the job (voluntarily or after being terminated) if you do not leave holding your head high and pointing accusatory fingers at the wrongdoers. In other words, since you are most likely to leave, once targeted, leave by telling everyone what happened to you and by whose hands. Targets who skulk away in silence, shrouded in personal shame, suffer the most. It can take a year or more to rebound to the point of being able to seek work. Those who leave proudly, bounce back the fastest.

 

Contrast this 3 Step approach with traditional advice from HR types, coaches, & “career experts”…..


Things NOT to do after discovering you are the target of workplace bullying:
-Do not feel guilty for not confronting your bully in response to the aggression. If you could have, you would have. You are not made that way.
-Do not limit your decisions to act in ways that sacrifice personal integrity and health just to survive to keep a paycheck. Survival strategies alone create even more serious long-term health and career problems. If the place will not change, plan your escape.
-Do not wait for the impact of bullying to fade with time. It must be stopped for the effects on you to stop.
-Do hold the employer accountable for putting you in harm’s way. It is not your personal responsibility as the victim to fix the mess you did not start. Employers control the work environment. When you are injured as a result of exposure to that environment, make the employer own the responsibility to fix it.
-Do not try to reinvent yourself as a political animal. If you would have been able to be cutthroat, you would have acted accordingly. You do not have to mimic the unethical bully to counter her or his misconduct.
-Do not trust HR to give you advice that serves your own best interests — they work for management and are management. Simple facts.
-Be wary of EAP counselors until they have proven to you that your confidential case details will not be reported to management and that they understand how work environments affect individuals’ health.
-Do not ask for relief from the bully’s boss. That is the person who loves her or him most. (And if there is no love there, there is fear. The boss fears the bully and cannot stop him or her.)
-Do not tell your story from a purely emotional injury angle. It scares away potential supporters.
-Do not share your voluminous documentation with anyone at work. No one cares as much as you do. In the wrong hands, it can be used against you.
-Do not ask others (HR, union reps, management) to make the bully stop for your sake. They will disappoint you. Rather, you will make the business case and ask them to stop bullying for their own self-interests.
-Do not agree to be treated by any mental health professionals who cannot believe your experience and want simply to change you so that you will not trigger similar reactions from future bullies.
-Do not pay a retainer to an attorney until you’ve exhausted cheaper alternatives to get your employer to take your complaint seriously.
-Do not confide in anyone at work until they have demonstrated (and not just talked about) loyalty to you.

 

For more information we recommend reading The Bully At Work by Dr. Gary Namie and Dr. Ruth Namie (Sourcebooks)

 

Retreived from http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/solutions/wbi-action-plan/

The Practical Guide to Working with Other Personalities

Working with people we don’t necessarily get along with is a normal part of life in an office.  I once had a coworker tell me, “I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, I am at work.” another individual at the same company was afraid to voice their opinions for fear of offending anyone.

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Why it’s Absolutely Okay to Cry at Work

I am giving you permission to be yourself at work.

For some, this might be displaying family photos at your desk as a reminder of your personal priorities or going out to lunch every day to decompress from the day.

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Confessions of a Confident Introvert

It can be personally freeing to discover you are an introvert. Sometimes when we think of people who are introverted, we wrongly stereotype them as people who don’t like other people. This stereotype is further from the truth. Most introverts are warm, interested in others, and powerful in their own right.

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Feel More Connected, Get Noticed, and Advance Your Career

Guest Blog Post from Stephanie Dennis, Owner of Communicate to Thrive

Feeling unappreciated and unrecognized at work? Not quite sure where you stand? Here are actions you can take right now to regain control and advance your career. By taking action, you will also feel more confident, build your reputation and personal brand, and feel more connected to your work.

Put the Hate on Hold

Have you ever gotten the clear vibe that someone dislikes you? It feels horrible. You’ll avoid them, become snarky, and subconsciously put your energy into tearing down that person down. Now, consider how you feel about your managers or coworkers. Do you roll your eyes behind their backs? Do you think they are out to get you? Although it can be incredibly difficult, you must put those feelings aside. You don’t need to be best friends with your supervisor, but it’s important not to send signals that you are a hater. Try to replace feelings of hate with curiosity and even compassion as you try to understand them. Which leads to ….

Understand Your Boss

What is going on with your manager? Businesses often promote the best technical workers to management or leadership roles, and yet provide no support or training. In other words, your boss may be trying to figure out how the heck to be a boss. Plus, he or she is likely navigating pressure from above and below. Think about what they dealing with and show some empathy. Also, get into your boss’ head and consider how they measure success. Is it metrics? Sales? Power? Authority? Everyday you see signals about what is important to your boss. You just need to pick up on them. This will let you anticipate incoming questions so you aren’t blindsided, pitch new ideas so that they are accepted, and help you present your work in a way that will valued by your boss.

Track and Communicate Your Fabulousness

Make a list of everything you are doing, then list the status, and the deadline or target date. This will help you get a grip on what’s going on and is also a great tool to help you communicate to your boss everything that is on your plate. If you have regular meetings with your supervisor, you can bring in a summary version of this document. Your manager will thank you. By offering this type of regular update, you are warding off questions about “what are you doing” and “what is the status on <fill in the blank>.” It also helps you plan your time and recognize in advance if you are going to have an issue with a particular deadline. You will also find this list to be a tremendous help if you are given a new project but wondering how to push back and explain the impact of this project on existing work.

Say The Magic Words

No, the magic word isn’t “please” — although that doesn’t hurt either. Try asking “How can I help?” It’s a game-changer. Imagine that you are a consultant who is there to help the boss instead of thinking of yourself as an oppressed worker bee. Let your manager know that you understand the issues he or she is facing (see item 2) and that you want to be able to help. Or, if you hear your boss grumble or worry about a new project, show that you are part of the team, interested, and ready to help. You would would be surprised by how rarely people say these words, and how powerful they are. Of course, it is crucial that you follow through on what you offer to do.

If you are feeling frustrated at work and not sure how to improve your situation, don’t lose hope! You have more control over your job than you thought. Start by taking the four actions listed above. Slowly, you will notice how your small actions will shift how others think of you and interact with you. These are just some of the ways to get recognized, get control, and get ahead.

——

Stephanie Dennis is the a career coach and workplace communication consultant. She created Communicate to Thrive to help people take charge of their career growth and professional development.

 

 

[FREE WEBINAR] Discover Your ‘Why’

When we are unsure of our path, there are always those who there to tell us exactly what we should do. When I would find myself unsure of my next step and in conversations about my future plans, each person had a different plan for me–different advice.

Why? In their plans for me, they didn’t take into account my interests, strengths, or life goals. I took their advice each time, but each time I was more un-happy than the last decision.

Why? I was doing the right stuff and doing what others wanted of me.

Needing a ‘Why’ Statement

This lack of my ‘why’ lead to a deep frustration with work and life. All of my frustrations would lead back to what I thought I ‘should’ be doing. I ‘should’ be working at my job 80 hours each week, I ‘should’ like my career choice, I ‘should’ be happy with my benefits and 401k. So many ‘shoulds’, I couldn’t enjoy my life in the moment or in the future. I was too caught up in what should be happening, that when my expectations weren’t met—my frustration would take over.

Don’t run from the unknown or resign in the comfortable, let this webinar guide you and get you to finding your ‘why’.

 

How this webinar will help you:

  • Increase honest communication with others (Promise it’s not scary!)  
  • Break repetitive/stale behaviors (This will do wonders for your self-esteem!)
  • Actionable Takeaways to Increase your success (You can implement tomorrow!) 
  • Put you on the path to trusting yourself (It feels SOOO Good!) 

 

The ability to be your true self and be successful lies within you.

AND it gets better….

Not only will you enjoy the amazing feeling of being able yourself, you also get to grow as a human being, make a significant impact… AND create success and positive abundance for yourself.

Join The Workshop! Free Gift – Free Workshop

About Your Host –  Over the years, Jess has seen too many women leave the workforce completely due to inflexible work environments and strained work relationships.  She is truly living her best self by helping others overcome workplace challenges to become confident and authentic. Currently, she is enrolled in a Masters of Business program and opened Career Love Collective. She holds a Communications Degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Life Coach Certificate. Jess is on a mission to inspire women to be their most confident self.

Career Love Collective is on a mission to mentor women to overcome workplace challenges to they can be authentic and confident in all stages of life. 

How to Enjoy Your Time Away From the Office

Motivation to go to work every day is an important component to our overall happiness. The average work week is for a full time employee is 47 hours per week. With the rise of smartphones, laptop computers and email, our contentedness makes our office anywhere we are in the world.  

For example, now when I go on vacation I actually need to mentally disconnect, plan my work and turn off email to enjoy my vacation. It’s taken me practice to get to this point of disconnection, but it makes me more present and in the moment of my experiences. Early in my career, I would be constantly checking my email, phone notifications and calling the office. I didn’t mentally ‘check-out’ of the office. I was never gone. It was a disservice for me as a human, a spouse and employee to not recharge and experience my time away from work.  

If you are an entrepreneur, self-employed, hourly or in school, any time you are away from work, it means money not in the bank. So, please make sure to enjoy your time off with these tips and make the most of your time experiencing new places. The ability to step away and recharging gives you the motivation to take on new challenges. Stepping away from your business is extra important for this group. I want to stress these tips are for you, too.       

How to Enjoy Your Time Away & Come Back Recharged

Communicate with Your Team

Going on vacation for any amount of time leaves a gap. Your position fills a key need in your team or department. Who will be the point person while you are gone? Even before a vacation is on the books, you need to have a plan in place to address your absence. When I was on a team, I would communicate with my leader of my desire to have a back up plan in place. A back up plan is the most effective way to keep your work moving forward. It can also keep another person in the loop on your ‘day to day’ just in case you are out of the office for an extended period of time. When you do go on vacation, you can meet with your teammate to funnel key messaging to this in-person office contact.

Disconnect from certain accounts / Turn off Notifications

I learned later in my career it is OKAY to disconnect from email. We become to accustomed to certain behaviors in the workplace, we accept it as the norm. When I go on vacation I disconnect from work email accounts and only check email once a day from an offsite computer. I communicated this to my co-workers so they understand my communication isn’t within the minute of sending the email, it would be more like checking at night and they would receive it at work the following morning. I also turn off all notifications and the email counter on my iphone app. I started to do this in my normal ‘everyday life’. It has absolutely helped reduce my anxiety. I highly recommend it!   

Out of Office Reply

I always use out of office replies. Many people I have worked with over the year have varying opinions on out of office replies. I see this as a generational and career choice difference. For example, when working with a lawyer, he saw his role as being at the call of his clients, so he was always reachable—he never had an out of office message. My roles within non-profit or higher education institutions, it was paramount to place an out of office on my email. If an answer needed to happen by end of business day, the out of office message would reply back to the sender, allowing them to go another direction in getting an answer.

It took a negative vacation experience to shake me back to reality. I was on a planned family vacation during the wrap up of a large work project. It was stressful to manage such a large project virtually and enjoy my family time. It was my hubby who helped me come to the realization everyone at the family function was stepping away from their own important work—not just me—and I was constantly using my emails, calls, etc. to show I value work more, while my family was valuing their time together. This experience really stuck with me, so I write this for everyone having challenges with disconnecting. Take my example to heart, and take time to implement these tips to your daily routine to be present in each moment.

Career Love Collective is on a mission to mentor women to overcome workplace challenges to they can be authentic and confident in all stages of life. Wanna chat over a latte or skype? I wanna get to know you, and what makes you…well YOU. Sign up for a free 30 minute assessment and let’s reach your goals together!

XOXO,

Jess

Early Signs of Office Bullying

I was bullied by my boss.

After nearly 6 years, I still feel guilt, shame and anger creeping up while writing to you. I am bringing workplace bullying to light in this post as my way to bring attention to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Bringing workplace bullying to the forefront and telling my story is a temporary discomfort but what is more important is to let you know that you are not alone. If you, or someone you know, are facing a deep depression, hopelessness or anger due to a workplace situation, I am here to let you know you can come out stronger on the other side.  

My bully was a person I was excited to work with.

My bully was a women only a few years my senior.

This topic of bullying defined and dominated most of my twenties as a young professional. I was an adult women in the workplace ready to give up. My bully attacked, watched, targeted, tricked, pushed out, worn down and torn down.  I wasn’t personally equipped to handle the constant emotional toll of bullying.  I was on an isolated island needing help. No one had the proper safety raft for me. It was an emotional exhausting island and I was stranded.

Adults are bullied at work and in personal relationships everyday.  I ultimately left the organization I loved. My bully was not held accountable, which allowed the same actions to continue.

While I continued to work at different organizations, it was difficult for me to adjust to a non-bully boss. In meetings with new coworkers, I had internal emotional wounds of bullying. Even though I was in a new environment, I would adjust my reaction as if I was still managed by a bully boss. Bad advice from friends and family was to never disclose the bullying to my new workplace. It took me months of re-training my emotions to react appropriately.  

Early Signs of Office Bullying

Experiences Outside Work

  • You feel like throwing up the night before the start of your work week
  • Frustrated family demands that you to stop obsessing about work at home
  • Your doctor asks what could be causing your skyrocketing blood pressure and recent health problems, and tells you to change jobs
  • You feel too ashamed of being controlled by another person at work to tell your spouse or partner
  • All your paid time off is used for “mental health breaks” from the misery
  • Days off are spent exhausted and lifeless, your desire to do anything is gone
  • Your favorite activities and fun with family are no longer appealing or enjoyable
  • You begin to believe that you provoked the workplace cruelty

Experiences At Work

  • You attempt the obviously impossible task of doing a new job without training or time to learn new skills, but that work is never good enough for the boss
  • Surprise meetings are called by your boss with no results other than further humiliation
  • Everything your tormenter does to you is arbitrary and capricious, working a personal agenda that undermines the employer’s legitimate business interests
  • Others at work have been told to stop working, talking, or socializing with you
  • You are constantly feeling agitated and anxious, experiencing a sense of doom, waiting for bad things to happen
  • No matter what you do, you are never left alone to do your job without interference
  • People feel justified screaming or yelling at you in front of others, but you are punished if you scream back
  • HR tells you that your harassment isn’t illegal, that you have to “work it out between yourselves”
  • You finally, firmly confront your tormentor to stop the abusive conduct and you are accused of harassment
  • You are shocked when accused of incompetence, despite a history of objective excellence, typically by someone who cannot do your job
  • Everyone — co-workers, senior bosses, HR — agrees (in person and orally) that your tormentor is a jerk, but there is nothing they will do about it (and later, when you ask for their support, they deny having agreed with you)
  • Your request to transfer to an open position under another boss is mysteriously denied

Retrieved from http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/early-signs/

Now I see I gave too much power to my bully. My sense of self was wrapped up in my work, pleasing others. My bully took advantage of those two situations.

If you are being bullied, it’s not okay. Bullying is not normal office behavior. A boss is not allowed to be your bully. Find your voice. Stand up for yourself. Career Love Collective is here to help you find your purpose. We empower you to do amazing things by being you. You don’t have to change who you are, you need to BE who you are to make an impact. 

XOXO,

Jess

 

Additional information can be found with these organizations

Workplace Bullying: www.workplacebullying.org

Suicide Prevention Awareness https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Suicide-Prevention-Awareness-Month

Quitting a Job with Confidence and Grace

I never advocate abruptly quitting a job. When you find yourself wanting to quit, ask yourself some questions. Why did you want the job on day one? Why do you want to quit? Are the reasons other people or the work you are doing? 

Let me breakdown ways you need to approach your job and get your control back.  

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Confident Job Interview Series – Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?

You might be just starting a job search, in the middle of a job search or looking occasionally. Whatever your job interview status, I have a tip that will take the guess work out of a big question. This method allows you to be confident, honest and in the moment. No need to bring up the past or feel threatened by what the future might hold.  

Picture yourself in a job interview. You prepared extensively on the background of the company and reviewed the job description with a fine toothed comb.  You think to yourself, “I am nailing this interview!”. Then, the looming life question is asked from the interviewer.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Ummmm….[mind goes blank]

For some that answer is easy, for others it is daunting.

Great news, you can easily answer this question confidently without telling the hiring manager too much about specifics of the job, past companies or personal life.  However, you do want to make your future intentions clear without scaring the hiring manager.

Use the scenario below to help guide you through your future interview.

Example Scenario

Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Abby: Current job interview for web designer

Longterm Desire: To be in a leadership position

Goal of Answer: Be honest in your career expectations/growth and align your goals with position

Let’s put it all together….:  “This position at Blue House Design is exciting to me for a few reasons. In five years I hope to be an expert in web design layout. Your reputation with online content is the best in the city. With the strong culture of design work here at Blue House Design, I know I can learn from amazing professionals here at Blue House Design. Also, in the coming years I am very open to leading a team of designers. I have had wonderful mentors, so leading others is something I am very passionate about.”

It’s okay if the job you are applying for isn’t the job of your dreams. If you are always learning and seek out mentors challenging  you to be your best self, you are on a wonderful path for personal and professional growth.

 

Career Love Collective is on a mission to empower all women to be their best self and reach their fullest potential. Wanna chat over a latte or skype? I wanna get to know you, and what makes you…well YOU. Sign up for a free 30 minute assessment and let’s reach your goals together! 

XOXO,

Jess