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.

 

FROM BROKEN TO BELIEVING: STEPS TO REINVENTING YOURSELF

I remember feeling tired, just worn out. I didn’t feel like fighting anymore. It wasn’t worth it. She had won. She could replace me with someone, anyone she thought could do the job better. The daily struggle to prove myself, do my job, keep my staff inspired in a toxic work environment plus navigate 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 efforts of my boss, the president and his executive assistant scheming 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!” They didn’t have the courage to say it to my face; instead, my boss slipped a letter under my office door.

I laugh at that cowardly behavior today after reinventing myself, receiving a written apology from my former boss (that wasn’t slid under my door) and becoming nationally recognized for my work, but that experience was mental and emotional torture when I was going through it. It wasn’t a small feat to reinvent myself and design a brand that would catch the attention of major corporations, media outlets, and publishers. There were a lot of decisions I had to make before I could land my first gig, media interview or book deal.

Reflecting on that time in my life, I realized that I had already seen the vision that I’d be doing something other than serving as Director of Public Relations. I had written in my journal exactly what I believed God had spoken to me. Deep down I knew the truth, I just couldn’t own it at the time. The truth is, at that time, I didn’t have the courage and confidence to stake claim to my space in the world. Isn’t it ridiculously sad that we are so fragile? Unfortunately, we replace our God-given powers for our fragile insecurities.

All I had to do was say: Yes! to the vision, God had shown me for my life. Yes! to the possibility that the image in my mind and the feeling in my heart were the truth,  and understand that the doubts running through my head were a lie. Yes! to the belief that if I put myself out there, I’d be supported by the spiritual world. I’d meet people on my path that would appreciate what I was trying to create and help me, and I would appreciate and support them. Click the title to watch a video to understand what my trademark message, There Is More Inside is all about.

Remember, when I left my job, I was broken and feeling lost. Okay, maybe more intensely disappointed in a system that failed me than broken, but the point is this: they robbed me of my livelihood for no good reason–and didn’t care.

This is what learned as I navigated that challenging time and made my way to the top in the self-development industry:

  • Decide what you want to give the world. For me, I want every person to know they have the right to feel good about who they are and create the life they want by practicing spiritual principles and building a brand.
  • Write down your vision. I wrote my vision down in my journal years before landing the Director position. I knew I desired to become nationally known by writing and traveling the world teaching people spiritual principles and how to own their truth and courageously live it by being personally accountable for their life.
  • Put your pride aside. I earned great success during my 20s. In my early 30s, after being fired, I was without income, but I was trying to pursue my purpose. As a result, the debt was rising and my stress level increasing. I put my pride aside and took a job as an assistant manager at WalMart. Yes, people were asking, “What happened?” They were wondering what happened to me because I was on the fast track to success.

I didn’t explain myself. I stayed focused on my target. No good could come from engaging in conversation with people who would only keep a negative conversation going and give power to my doubts.

By staying focused, I created the spiritual space for me to work on writing my first book, There Is More  Inside: Personal Essentials to Living a Power-Packed Life.  This would’ve been difficult if I would impose more suffering on myself. 

  • Reflect on your life. By pausing and thinking about your life’s journey, you’ll notice themes and messages that allowed you to clearly see a marketable message that will resonate with people.
  • Crafted a brand message around your life challenges. I used my story and the lessons I learned to craft a message that related to national issues and solved problems. You can do it too.
  • Decide what image you want to project. As a former model and television talk show host, I understood the importance of image and how it influences people’s perception of you and how they respond to you. I wanted to make sure that when the spotlight finally made its way around to me, I would be ready to showcase and clearly communicate my value to others.
  • Attend workshops. You don’t know what you don’t know, but I knew it was important to find out what I didn’t know so I attended conferences and workshops, which gave me the opportunity to watch leaders in the industry, learn from them and make myself known to them–even though I was still marinating on who I was going to be in the marketplace.
  • Put into action what you learn at workshops. Attend workshops with the intention to learn and implement what you learn immediately. By doing so, this commitment served as the building block to my business and helped me to grow steadily.
  • Hire a coach. I hired a personal and business coach. I needed to understand what may hinder me from reaching my goals and identify any blind spots. You’d be surprised what can happen and how much you’ll grow from getting a proficient coach.
  • Launch your newly reinvented brand into the marketplace. In September 2005, approximately 3.5 years after being fired, I launch my business. In the last 13 years, I’ve had the good fortune to work with over 100 organizations over 9 industries (95 percent are repeat clients), coached approximately 300 small business owners and employees logging over 600 hours, be interviewed by some of our nation’s top journalists and signed two book deals.

The first was with Wiley, one of the world’s top academic publishers,
and the second was with Callisto Media, one of the fastest growing
online publishers. As the author of 5 books, I wrote and launched a
new book every 2.5 years. This helped me to remain relevant in the
marketplace. As a result, I’ve been invited to share platforms with
some of the nations most influential leaders.

What’s most important? I have been able to wake up every day and be used by God.

I’m not sharing this with you to impress you, but to impress upon you what can happen when you DECIDE you will no longer be filled with doubt, but fueled by faith!

How about you, what’s happening in your world? What are your challenges? What needs to change? What are you willing to change? Are you pursuing the vision God has given you? If not, why not?

© 2018 S. Renee

S. Renee is a Certified Professional Coach and a nationally recognized Self-Esteem, Branding & Communications Expert, Speaker, Coach & Author. 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 www.srenee.com

Missed Goals…The Best Opportunity for Success

And the winner is . . .

Have you ever wondered what determines who takes home the trophy? Who gets the promotion? Who lands the contract?

Is there something that losers fail to do that gives their opposition an advantage? Or is it something winners do that gives them an edge?

When it comes to reaching a goal, all things may appear equal, but they never are. People who experience success believe in themselves, develop the right attitude, and refuse to take no for an answer. People who experience the success they want and beyond do those things and more.

What is the “more.” Intentional success comes through the clarity of your mind, the understanding of your heart, and knowing the endurance of your body. If you want to be like a well-trained athlete who listens, learns, and follows the instructions of his coach to get the results he wants, then you must weigh the following:

1. The purpose of setting a goal is to keep you focused and to determine whether you’re creating what you say you want. Because goals only take into account raw data called outcomes, we as self-development experts don’t believe the achievement or lack of achievement of a goal is the complete picture of success.

The journey to achieving your goal can significantly enrich your life — increasing your confidence and introducing you to phenomenal things about yourself. This philosophy doesn’t negate the importance of goals; it only seeks to ensure that you don’t believe your self-worth is contingent on a projected outcome, because it isn’t.

2. Many factors influence the achievement of a goal. For the most part, achieving your goals depends on you. But when and how you achieve your goals can be influenced by external factors.

For example, most Olympians train from the time they’re 5 or 6 years old. Each athlete is well trained by a top coach. Each has pushed himself beyond his limits. Each has prepared himself to win. Each has set the goal to take home the gold — but only one will.

The reality of setting goals is that you will face defeat. The purpose of defeat is not to hurt or stop you or cause you to give up. It’s simply to offer you the lessons you need to sustain you when you reach your goal. Here’s how to deal with fail goals:

Try again. Believing in something when there isn’t any evidence that it’s likely to happen can be difficult, but your willingness to persevere and keep trying is the force that manifests it into reality.

Find an alternative. There’s more than one way to reach any goal — be creative. See the nearby sidebar, “Before they die,” for an example.

Improve your abilities. Some goals aren’t reached because you’re not ready. Keep practicing, improving, and building your skills.

Evaluate your focus, desires, and drive. Some goals require more than you expect. Make sure you’re giving it all you have and that you have the fortitude to go the distance.

Accept that it’s not meant to be. Positive thinking, affirmations, and practice won’t help you became a brain surgeon unless you are gifted in math and science and have an educational foundation that will support you. Although anything is possible, everything isn’t always practical.

This is an excerpt from the book Self-Esteem for Dummies. For my free 90-minute audio course sign up here, How to Create Buzz and Grow Your Life and Business. 

Copyright. All rights reserved. 2018 S. Renee Smith.

Feeling Devalued Means You Don’t Fully Understand Branding

“Any questions?” I asked. I had just concluded a 90-minute workshop on personal branding. The questions started pouring in when suddenly, everyone fell silent as we heard these words:

“Why can’t I get the promotion? I’m a great worker. I arrive early and stay late. I ace special projects, and I’m often praised for my work performance.” Pausing, he continued, “I shut my mouth, do my job, and go home.”

Do you ever feel that way — devalued?

Personal branding, in theory, is very similar to product branding. Products have a purpose. They have specific characteristics that make them appealing. They solve problems for targeted markets, which are also called audiences. When they bring the anticipated value, a buzz is created and demand increases.

Keep the following points in mind about branding:

1. Your brand is not identical to your reputation. When a group of people is asked the question: “Do you have a brand?” typically, the majority respond, “No.” The next question is, “Is your brand your reputation?” Most say, “Yes.” That’s partially correct. Reputation emphasizes your character. Your brand is your reputation and what people expect to get from what you do.

Here’s the difference. “He’s a good, honest businessman” is an example of reputation. “He’s a good, honest business man who sells quality, well-priced used cars to middle-class families” exemplifies a brand.

2. Image and branding are different. Many people are also under the impression that their image is their brand. Your image is the perception that people have of you as a result of seeing and/or having minor interactions with you. Your image is an opinion without any real understanding of who you are or what you do.  Your brand is a result of others having direct contact with you or a testimony from a reputable resource who has had an experience with you. Your brand has an image component, but your image doesn’t have a brand component.

3. People are clear about your brand, even if you aren’t. As mentioned, most people don’t believe they have a brand. Nor have they given much thought to personal branding. Although you may not know the value you bring to your business and personal relationships, that doesn’t mean the people you interact with haven’t calculated the value you bring to their lives. What they know about you is the barometer they use to determine which promotions, assignments, and invitations are extended to you.

This is an excerpt from the book Self-Esteem for Dummies. For my free 90-minute audio course sign up here, How to Create Buzz and Grow Your Life and Business. 

Copyright. All rights reserved. 2018 S. Renee Smith.

Why Am I Being Tested?

“I remember wondering how it got to this point. I was a student of developing and maintaining a positive self-image. I taught others how to develop and maintain theirs. What happened? I was numb. I couldn’t feel myself anymore. I was deaf to my own voice. All I could hear were the people in my personal and professional life whose actions were saying, “You’re not good enough.” I was now a student of my own teaching.” This is an excerpt from There Is More Inside

It was Spring 2000. I don’t know if I was struggling or being strangled. Regardless, I was suffering. What I now realize is that my stamina and beliefs about myself, God and the world around me were being tested.

Finding the courageous and confidence to own your space and smoothly transition from one phase of life to another is what I teach today, but first I had to be taught. Briefly, here’s the story. You can read the entire story in my first book, There Is More Inside.

I was facing two painful rejections. My former fiancé asked me to marry him and four months later walked out of my life. Then, I was fired from my job.

Prior to getting engaged, I firmly stated that we would not set a date until we went to marriage counseling. After starting our sessions, he and I had an argument about going to counseling. He told me he had been hoodwinked into going to counseling. Realizing our deep differences, I said: Well, we won’t be getting married.

In less than 30 days after that dramatic episode, I was fired from my job. I was being bullied by my supervisor—humiliated in front of my staff, described as a premadonna, and told I couldn’t write. After seeking help from the director of human resources and the university president, I was granted medical leave due to the tremendous amount of stress that they knew I was experiencing. The stress affected my health. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me as being depressed. He prescribed an antidepressant. Yes, I felt like my life was crumbling out of control, but everything about my life up to this point told me that God had prepared me for this personal and professional challenge.

© 2012 All rights reserved. S. Renee, SRS Productions, Inc., There Is More Inside®

WHEN NEXT DOESN’T SHOW UP, THEN WHAT?

Under a tight deadline to complete some writing, with my manuscript and Apple laptop in hand, I arrived at 11:50 a.m. for a scheduled 12-noon lunch meeting with a vice president of marketing. We were meeting so that I could thank him for his decision to provide corporate funding for a fundraising event I chaired.

Engrossed in the writing, I was startled twenty or so minutes later when I heard a voice from the other side of the table say, “You didn’t think I was going to show, did you?” While standing up to embrace him, I began explaining my deadline requirements for The Bridge. Our conversation continued pleasantly, when in a matter of minutes a surprising, but welcomed statement poured out of the heart and mouth of the 50-plus, successful white male.

“I could never write a book,” he whispered. I was stunned at his unexpected transparency. But I instinctively knew and understood that this was a moment for us to connect on a deeper and richer level. Compassionately, I offered, “Even though it doesn’t look or sound like it today, I thought the same thing when I was writing my first book, There Is More Inside. In fact, in the first chapter I share my insecurities with the reader about how I didn’t think anyone would buy or read it.” My identification with his self-doubt must have created more safety. The muscles relaxed on his face, and he disclosed, “That’s exactly how I feel. What do I have to say that people would want to know?”

Having listened well to his earlier ponderings, I reminded him of a statement he had made about how he hadn’t realized how much he knew until the opportunity for him to teach showed up. Appreciating my reminder of his success, he took in a deep breath and readily nodded in agreement. The coach in me, however, wasn’t through. I continued to probe. “So, what would you write about?” He confessed he didn’t know. “What are you passionate about?” I inquired. His eyes rolled upwards to indicate thought. But again he answered, “I don’t know.”

The confused expression on my face must have prompted him to continue talking, and had I known the magnitude of what he was about to share, I would have tape-recorded the entire dialogue. From my mental notes and a few scribbles that I jotted down that day, I have recounted to the best of my ability this man’s profound awareness and insight. Listen to his heart.

“I’ve always known where I was going to next. I entered the job market and it was a natural progression. Next was just there. I would plan for my next logical step for advancement and professional growth. It’s laid out for you, an automatic sequence. But, what if there wasn’t a next? That’s when you realize, you left everything that you love and deeply desire on the sidelines for—next.  And, one day next doesn’t show up.”

We sat silently for a moment to ponder this undisputed truth together. Do most people take the well-traveled road laid out for them within organizational structures and systems? Do they wait for calamity to come before they ever seek their divine path of passion and personal self-fulfillment? When they find it, do they have the courage to cross The Bridge to get there?

©2011 All rights reserved. The Bridge to Your Brand Likeability, Marketability, Credibility will be available in paperback beginning August 15, 2011. Pre-order your copy today.