WORKPLACE BULLYING: WHY AND HOW TO STOP IT—NOW!

I remember feeling tired, just worn out. I didn’t feel like fighting anymore. It wasn’t worth it. The “boss” had won. She could replace me with someone, anyone she thought could do the job better. The daily struggle to do my job, prove myself and keep my staff inspired in a toxic work environment while navigating her unpredictable bully tendencies of condescending, disrespectful, unwarranted jabs and humiliating comments in front of others, had taken its toll.

But, I wasn’t completely defeated. Despite the unbelievable pursuits and intimating tactics of my supervisor, the president, and his executive assistant to get me to sign their pre-written letter of resignation, I refused. Not a chance. If you want me to 
go, then look me in the eyes and tell me. Say it! Say, “You are fired!” No one had the courage to say it to my face; instead, my boss slipped a letter under my office door.

According to some stats, I’m just one of nearly half of all American workers who’ve been affected by workplace bullying.

As a direct target, I witnessed firsthand how being bullied affects morale, productivity, absenteeism, retention, succession planning, and employee health—including my own.

This recognition fueled my purpose, passion, and mission to influence how people feel about themselves and how they communicate with others. I knew that self-esteem, branding and effective communications were platforms to help me move past bullying, as well as pillars to improve behavior and workplace performances. After all, given my success in helping to transform hundreds of workplace cultures through employee development and becoming a go-to media expert, I felt a sense of satisfaction. Plus, being sought by major publishers to share my philosophy, reminded me I was on the right track.

However—there was a heighten truth and awareness that flowed through me as I read a written apology from my former boss admitting and owning her internal struggles when she was responsible for creating opportunities for me to develop and grow so that I could provide greater value to the organization—but instead harassed and then fired me.

As a workplace expert and speaker for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Speakers Bureau, it brings me to a great place because back then when I needed human resources, my HR office had no power, no influence, no say.

Now, by teaming with SHRM, I get to further impact the culture of workplaces around the world by providing development services that will help human resource professionals develop their personal brand and executive presence to be seen, heard and respected throughout the entire organization. Further, I’m confident that when human resource

professionals are in the C-Suite speaking the truth, cultures will change, employees will advance and businesses will grow and evolve beyond expectations.

Here are a few tips human resource professionals can embrace to showcase their value:

  • Connect, Communicate and Advocate: When I went to human resources, I could see that they wanted to advocate for me but didn’t know how. So instead, they shrugged their shoulders and felt sorry for me. Looking back I can clearly see that the director of human resources didn’t know how to connect and communicate the impact of the toxic culture on the president’s agenda. 
•

 

  • Become the Hub for Organizational and Employee Progress: Get leadership’s 
attention by connecting and communicating how a problem is hindering the CEO/President’s goals. Then, advocate for change. I don’t ever remember reading a workplace policy handbook in its entirety until I needed to know the views and policies of certain behaviors. And, as a workshop presenter, when I’ve asked employees if they’ve read it, few hands are raised. What I discovered is leadership’s behaviors are the “unwritten rules” of the organization. In the eyes of the employees and leadership, when bad behavior goes unchallenged it’s because “human resources” isn’t doing its job.

 

  • Think Under Cover Boss: I can’t tell you the number of people who email or phone me to share that they work for a toxic boss and are frustrated because human resources will not help. I’ve sat at the table in the C-suite and I’ve learned this: the CEO or president of the organization is looking for solutions to problems that they are too far removed to see, but are very clear these type of challenges have a drastic effect on the organization. Be the voice that confidently and courageously speaks up.

 

© 2018 S. Renee, a nationally recognized Self-Esteem, Branding & Communications Expert, Speaker, Coach, is a workplace expert and SHRM Speakers Bureau Presenter. She is the author of Self-Esteem for Dummies, 5 Steps to Assertiveness: How to Communicate With Confidence and Get What You Want, The Bridge to Your 
Brand Likability, Marketability, Credibility, Our Hearts Wonder Prayers to Heal Your Heart & Calm Your Soul, There Is More Inside: Personal Essentials to Living a Power- Packed Life. You can learn more at srenee.com.

 

How to Triumph Over Bullies

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Phoebe Prince, other families who have experienced such a tragedy and every person who has ever been wound in the crossfire of bullies. Like Phoebe, I moved to a new school and they, the bullies were there waiting for me. Here’s my story as shared in There IS More Inside.

“We often empower undeserving people by allowing them to tell us
who we are and how far we can go. We put our faith and trust in them.
The truth is, what do they know about us and what God has for us? Set
your own standards and watch others respect and follow you. You will
eventually develop a confidence that says, “I know who I am, I know
where I’m going, and I’m excited to be on the right path.” Stay focused.
Be consistent in who you are and just watch your reputation of respect
build.

I can recall when I first understood this profound lesson. When I was
growing up there were two middle schools. They both taught fifth
through eighth grades. I attended fifth and half of sixth grade at Central
Middle. There I was teased, picked on, my lunch money was taken, and I
was constantly threatened by the bullies. I was terrified. The only thing I
could think about was how I could fit in. What did I need to do to fit in?
How could I win these people over? Their reign of terror came to an end
when I moved to a new neighborhood, which required me to attend
William Henry Middle School.

As with most people, I was concerned about being accepted and liked.
I wondered if the kids would harass me as they did at the old school. But
I decided that that wasn’t going to happen. This was a new start for me
and I was going to build my reputation differently.
I wasn’t going to be the timid, “I don’t know what I want, you can take
advantage of me” person anymore. But when I got there, it was more than a
notion. Of course, there was the bully and her entourage waiting to put fear in my
heart.What was I going to do? I wasn’t a fighter. In fact, I feared fighting
even when I wasn’t the one fighting. But this was my moment. I had to
dig deep and find the courage to be me. This meant that I had to do what
I most feared doing — stand up for myself and make my position known.
Not only to them, but to myself.

The group of girls invited me to join their group. But I didn’t want to,
because I understood the consequences of being part of such a group. It
meant that there was one leader and everyone else were followers. If one
leader didn’t like someone, the rest of the group didn’t either. Being in
this group meant that someone else would dictate how I should feel and
act toward others. That wasn’t me. Those days were over! I wanted to be
me. I wanted to be friends with everyone. I tried to get these girls to
understand, but they turned on me. They started by trying to intimidate
me with the “I don’t like you” stuff. It didn’t work. So, they decided that
they were going to beat me up!

We were in gym class and each girl took
her turn hitting me in the back of the head as she ran by. I sat quietly and
watched the girls as they laughed and joked at me. Little did they know
that I was looking for the weakest link. I found her. When she ran by and
hit me, I got up and ran after her. I threw a few punches…thank God it
didn’t last long. Before I knew it, I was in the guidance counselor’s office.
No one could understand why “the good girl was fighting.” After that
incident, I never had to worry about being intimidated by my classmates
again. I did exactly what I said I was going to do. I became friends with
everyone. I was a leader. I was consistent, respectful, and fair to everyone.
I showed that I was a leader. And my classmates honored that. In fact,
two years later the student body voted me Queen and most popular, best
dressed, friendliest, and most reliable!”

I can’t say that my plan will work for every person, but what I do know for sure is that the greatest gift that we can offer our children is teaching them how to love themselves–that’s were the real power is. I also extend my prayers to the bullies and their families. This is not only your lesson this is a lesson for everyone. Hopefully this will change the educational experience every child.

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. S. Renee.