It’s Anti Bullying Week and I believe it’s important to shine a light on the less obvious cases of bullying that takes place, particularly in the workplace.
When you’re a young, teenage girl growing up, some of the experiences you have with the other girls around you are quite frankly, shocking! Girls can be the worst for their bitchiness and bullying at that stage of growing up and I remember wishing my school days away, believing that all of the nasty behaviour would be left behind me in the playground. The reality was very different though. What I hoped would disappear got worse and has carried on throughout my adult life.
When we talk about bullying in the workplace, most people jump to the assumption that it’s either a boss bullying a member of their team or peer to peer. People don’t expect the boss to be getting bullied by one of their own direct reports! It happens. Because it happened to me!
The irony was that this person was actually pursuing a grievance against me claiming I was bullying them! Classic lose/lose thinking – if I’m going down, your going down with me.
I won’t go into the details of what happened but it was the worst time in my career…EVER! I cried every day on the way home. I felt completely isolated as I couldn’t talk to anyone else about it. I was stressed as I was carrying the weight of a grievance against me and last but by no means least I was scared because of the behaviour towards me.
Things got to a rock bottom point and I finally took some action. I desperately needed some support and so got myself an external coach. Not only was this a place for me to talk, get things off my chest and be listened to, it was building my mental toughness, my resilience and my actual skill to be able to handle the situation. I actually took myself off to London and went on an Assertiveness course to help me develop the skill and capability I needed.
This process liberated me!
I had to dig deep at time time when I was so vulnerable. I felt stripped bare. But I had nothing to lose. With the right mindset, the right people around me for support and the confidence through the skill and capability I now had, I was able to feel strong enough to not just survive it, but thrive through it. It’s why Assertiveness has become such a passion of mine and one of my speciality areas to help women with, in many situations, not just being bullied.
So, to sum up, I hope this situation never happens to you but if it does, or it has, then remember these 3 things to help you become resilient enough to come out the other side (without looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards and aged 20 years)
1. Work hard on your mindset
2. Get some objective support
3. Develop the skills to help you deal with it competently
And finally, don’t assume that bullying doesn’t happen upwards. Keep a look out for people and have an open mind to help spot anything that’s not right.