Audio Version (07:15)
I’ve mentioned in several previous articles and videos how I was subjected to workplace bullying. Although it happened over a decade and a half ago, it’s something that’s had a significant impact on my life.
As you can no doubt imagine, I have thought long and hard about whether I share this information. After all, there’s a lot of judgment out there in social media land.
However, as I’ve said many times before, my social media content (including blogs, articles, videos, newsletters, posts, etc.) and the advice/tools I share come from my personal experiences (plus those of my clients) – NOT from a textbook or some self-important self-help guru.
I believe that if openly sharing my journey/challenges and real-life experiences helps just one person (which I know it does from your feedback ), it’s worth it.
As for those who judge, well, they aren’t my target audience, and as I’ve said in a post this week:
We’re rarely judged by people doing more than us.
Click here to watch the extended YouTube version of this post.
Three Valuable Lessons
Although there are many valuable lessons, the three (both practical and emotional) that I will share with you today would have made the most difference had I known about them at the time.
1. Why Bullies Bully
The number one thing that would have made a world of difference to me when I was being bullied is understanding why bullies bully. Knowing that would have changed so much for me.
I wish I’d known that bullies have:
High levels of insecurity
High levels of vulnerability
Feelings of being ‘less than’ other people
High levels of shame, often rooted in childhood trauma
High levels of guilt, again typically rooted in childhood
Contrary to what they’d have us believe, they have deep-rooted feelings of not being good enough and a strong desire for control (usually because they didn’t have much control growing up).
Some even get a perverse pleasure from finding ways to destroy others’ confidence, skills and abilities, self-esteem, likeability, etc. (however, these tend to be more narcissistic types).
So, why do they do it?
They build themselves up by putting others down.
They do it to make up for their own perceived inadequacies to avoid confronting their own problems.
For many bullies, it’s about unbridled jealousy and envy. They don’t have the skills, temperament, experience, time, energy, likeability, empathy, etc., of their victims, so find ways to undermine and slowly dismantle those positive traits.
Bullies project their own insecurities, shortcomings, or negative emotions onto other people. By doing that, they can distance themselves from their negative traits and feelings by placing them onto others.
It helps them maintain a false sense of superiority and control, artificially making up for their insecurity and low self-esteem.
One thing I know for sure is that:
THEY SEE YOUR POTENTIAL, EVEN IF YOU DON’T!
I’ve talked more about this in my previous article – 5 Reasons Why Bullies Bully.
2. Make Notes of Everything.
Before setting up my coaching practice in 2009, I spent almost 20 years in HR. I would always tell employees who suspected they were being bullied to make notes and keep evidence.
I must admit, I didn’t do that myself, to begin with. However, as things escalated, which they always do, you better believe I did!
One of the many insidious traits of bullies is gaslighting. They turn the focus away from themselves, placing the blame on others.
When you try to address issues with them, they’ll have an answer for everything. They likely try to bamboozle you with comments like,
‘That never happened.’
‘You’re losing the plot.’
‘You’ve no evidence of that.’
‘It’s you that’s the problem.’
‘You’re just misinterpreting what I’m saying.’
Often, gaslighting works because we don’t expect people to lie with such ease. They will often gaslight with such conviction that we tend to believe their version of events over our own.
However, by keeping diary notes of:
Tangible evidence, such as emails, texts, photos, etc.
HOW YOU FEEL (that’s important because you may not remember retrospectively).
YOU. HAVE. PROOF.
In addition, if you want to raise the issues formally at some point, you’ll need evidence. Without it, it will be unlikely that the company can do much to support you.
On that note, and this is a bonus point – TELL SOMEONE IN AUTHORITY ABOUT IT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.
Whether that’s a boss, HR, Union Rep or another trusted colleague, tell someone, as these things don’t improve by themselves. In fact, they typically get a whole lot worse.
I left it way too long. It’s one of my biggest regrets.
3. Get Out Sooner Rather Than Later
If you have raised your concerns formally with your employer and they don’t take satisfactory action, I strongly suggest that you consider moving elsewhere – SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!
Some typical reasons why companies don’t act are:
What you say can’t be proven – you have no evidence. That’s why evidence is critical.
The company need the person you’re complaining about more than they need you. So they aren’t willing to do anything about it. This, unfortunately, is a common one.
It comes under the ‘too hard to deal with’ pile and gets brushed under the carpet. Things drag out over months or even years with no resolution.
I know I stayed too long. By the time I resigned, I was a shadow of my former self. I’d lost almost two stone, my confidence was non-existent, and I literally didn’t know what day it was.
I was not the same person.
However, it was a slow decline; it didn’t happen overnight. It slowly eroded my physical and mental health through consistent and persistent bullying and coercive control.
Don’t let that happen to you. No job is worth that. NONE.
The Wrap Up
Things rarely get better on their own. You must take action, and if you do and nothing changes, find somewhere where you’ll be happy and valued. Life’s too short.
EVERYONE deserves to come to work in a safe environment, free from emotional abuse and coercive control.
Psychological safety, as well as physical safety, is the very least we should expect from an employer.
I’m happy to say, in retrospect (and with one heck of a huge reframe), that much good came out of my workplace bullying experience, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time.
For one, I wouldn’t be doing what I do now, and I LOVE my job. Since I founded my coaching practice, I’ve helped thousands of people live happier, healthier lives. I doubt that would have happened if I hadn’t undergone such a troubling time.
I NEED YOUR HELP!
I’m trying to reach 500 subscribers and 3,000 watch hours on my YouTube channel. When I hit those targets, my channel will be monetised, and I will receive a portion of the ad revenue. In addition, it will help get my content in front of so many more people!
(Yes, that’s why every YouTube creator asks you to like, comment and subscribe. Money is a stake – they don’t do it simply for the validation!)
Therefore, if you enjoy my content, please like, subscribe and click the notification button on my channel. It doesn’t cost you a penny but will help me hit the threshold to receive ad revenue from YouTube. Click here to help me out!
Every little helps when you run your own business!
Finally, if I can help you with anything, including workplace bullying, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary, confidential discovery call.
As always, thanks for your continued support.