Speak Up About It!

I’ve always wondered why people turn a blind eye to injustice. I’ve rejected the theory that it’s because most people are too self involved to care. I think everyone is capable of empathy and I like to give others the benefit of the doubt. But all too often, as I’ve seen throughout my own life and from the perspective of a bystander, people will witness a cruelty and simply say or do nothing to the perpetrator. This is a problem because it reinforces the bully’s behavior. Are people operating out of fear when they ignore such things? Like, they’re worried they could become the next target if they were to speak up? Or is it the overtly hopeful yet unrealistic “ignore it and it will stop” syndrome?

Sadly, bullying is overlooked from the time kids begin shoving dirt in each other’s face in the sandbox and because of this, it eventually works its way up to boardrooms and corporate settings. And while bullies on the school yard may break hearts, adult bullies can ruin lives, which is why this epidemic must be nipped in the bud ASAP through better discipline of our children and legislation in schools and workplaces.

Workplace bullying, or mobbing, as it is often referred to, can bring emotional and financial ruin on someone. It can cause financial hardship and in extreme cases, bankruptcy, causing a person to lose their home and other valuable assets. Bullying also contributes to severe emotional distress and can leave a lasting impression when someone who has been mobbed out of a former position is looking for new employment, resulting in performance anxiety and PTSD.

The sad thing is, the person who is bullied at work is often fired for speaking up or is forced to resign because management does nothing to stop the bully, when in fact the opposite should take place. Are we really so masochistic of a society that we allow this to continually happen? Are we so desensitized from the onslaught of violent movies and TV programs that we garner some kind of sadistic joy at seeing someone tortured in their place of work where they’re trying to do the best they can and make an honest living?

I say it’s time to start speaking up and documenting instances of workplace bullying, even if we are merely a witness to it. Let’s make it a goal in 2014 to put an end to this unneeded emotional torture and help each other rise to be our best selves.

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4 thoughts on “Speak Up About It!

  1. I think as adults, people don’t see it as being “bullying” per se. I guess the onlookers think that adults should take care of things themselves and won’t step in and so mind their own business. The other reason is also fear for their own jobs. It seems when the economy is bad like the last few years, the bullying goes up. In better times, people will just quit and move on quickly.

    I once did confront a bully who was bullying someone else. They were berating their assistant loudly and publicly and the woman was positively cowering. Eventually I spoke up and said something like “Bob, we’ve all had about ENOUGH OF THIS! You’ve made your point now leave her alone because you’re starting to sound like a real ass!” Everyone began to snicker (at him) not her.

    I didn’t work in the same department, so he couldn’t fire me, but I did incur his dislike from there on. Luckily I didn’t work with him much.

      • It’s hard when you’re on the other end though and YOUR job is on the line! I worked with a bully in my last (much needed) job. I let him do it (at first) but then began to fight back. It’s so hard when you’re being publicly berated, but at some point you just need to calmly state “This conversation as degraded to the point of you bullying me, and I will NOT tolerate it,” and then just remove yourself from their presence. If they fire you for that, well then they would’ve fired you for anything. In almost all of these cases you will still receive your unemployment benefits, but make sure you’ve documented the bullying (I can’t stress that enough!) just in case.

      • Yes, it is very hard being on the receiving end. I am proud of you for confronting your bully! Not a lot of people would have the strength to do that! I think bullies just want the attention 99% of the time. Once you confront them, they got what they wanted from you and they will stop. I find it interesting that your bully was male, though. I usually only see girl-on-girl bullying at work.

        In my case, I did exactly what you did and told this older woman that her behavior was unacceptable in a professional environment, which had the opposite effect – it caused her to be more angry and passive aggressive. I documented everything and contacted HR. I even contacted the grant manager of the program, it got so bad, and all because upper management at our office wouldn’t do anything. HR didn’t do anything either and essentially let management ask me to leave “on good terms.” So, what is the point of HR if they side with management and fail to protect the employee? Also, I feel that they asked me to leave instead of her because she’s friends with the CEO at the chapter. My work was better; I was more productive; I had great rapport with the volunteers; and on paper, I was much more successful than her! Since when did cronyism become the status quo at work? Sad 😦 We deserve better!

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