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/

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