Just One More Good News Story
It's real; bullying is real. We are good and we don't mind constructive criticism, and we give benefit of doubt at first that 'the criticism' of something of our work is meant to be constructive. But then it goes further and further down the slippery slope and we know we have a bully on our hands.
The, hopefully not last job, was 'the worst of the worst' of bullying; yet the good news was I recognized it; at the start. In this case, I was hired as clerical assistant in HR (HR can you imagine) assisting the administration of a business clerically. Small HR; me clerical assist, manager, and ben. admin. / I was there a few weeks learning 'the to do's' when the ben. administrator there many years got put to another dept. to fill a vacancy. They hire another ben. admin., and the one who hired (Mgr) went on vacation. The one who gives the direction to both me and ben. admin. went on a vacation? (is that odd?) Were they testing me? (your opinion Anton)
Anyway, I was tuned in from the start and kept the head low. I saw it; this new one sounded just like so many others in the past. (de ja vu) I was helpful to this new one, asked if she wanted me to bring her back lunch when I went out; she was staying in. (sometimes she said yes) She asked me questions I couldn't answer and spoke a simple go to see so and so in other dept. who had this job. (I suppose the more professional approach would be to say, Oh, I can't help you but please follow me; I have your answer; and lead her and introduce her to ... would that have been the way? or should I have spoken to the one in other dept. discreetly and asked her to come to HR and see how so and so is doing; letting this one have the glory of showing care, Or as only clerical assist at the time, was I to just state where she should go to talk; putting trust in her good admin. judgment. I did the latter. Any way; I was very 'in tune' for a year and she was not getting me. (my experience was showing) I think she was frustrated.
About 1 1/2 years into things; the manager got involved as the 'bully' sat angelic in her office. Manager ranted in my face and I said not a whimper. (and this is pattern also) All bullies are the same. Notice the pattern and it will help greatly. Experience is a great teacher -- GOOD NEWS! I was getting stronger!!
Sometimes things got better; but if manager was out of office; bully ...bullied. False exasperation; slapping facial cheeks, toe taps, crossed arms and finger waves in the face. I was doing well; remaining controlled and keeping things organized as a clerical assistant should. She would come out and sharpen 7 pencils slowly behind my back, she would come and look in cabinets in my desk area and slam them up and down. bam wham slam. (never asking me for help) ignore ignore ignore. (I was winning; yes I was) I also learned; NEVER defend myself to the bully. Whatever she says; listen and ignore. (oh after a year, the manager advises me that I'm not a clerical asst but an admin. asst. (there was an error at hire she said) I missed the opportunity to say "please put that in my file." (I guess I didn't want to rock the boat) An admin. asst is allowed to be more forward then a clerical asst, take charge a bit to help our administrators)
What else did I do? I vowed 'no secrets' from the start. I would keep my manager informed and if something was MY error state it. I wanted manager to know what occurred while she was out; with regards myself and my new colleague; because I knew if I didn't speak it she was surely going to. So I aimed to make sure she knew it 'from me' and not just the colleague. What she decided
was for her to decide; I wasn't going to stay silent. I did this quietly with e-mail. Some say email was a wrong thing, that it made them nervous to have it in writing. I think it saved me. (there it was, I never kept anything from the manager, thus 'cut the bully off at pass' / sometimes I wrote: please let me know how I can improve. (no rebukes to any of my emails) Again: If an occurrence of some communicating happened while boss was out, and I said nothing; I surely knew the boss was going to hear of it from this other one. If I had not also told of it, I think I would have been rebuked. Smart or not? (and it was valid; we were both new) I never criticized directly my equally new colleague; tried writing objectively of occurrences. Never said; so and so did ... (was that good of me?) I did this because in the past, I get brought to table then speak of what is occurring for so long; they say "and why didn't you come to us" (they say that) I thought I was showing trust in management to handle and keeping them informed, no secrets. That, 'at the end'; they could not claim ignorance I didn't share or say I didn't want to work (insubordinate) Is e-mailing a valid communication tool to communicate quietly? Perhaps I should have e-mailed my bully; and explained what I know and describe the occurrence to her and a solution for us both so it does not happen again. (she wouldn't bring it to our boss because then... she would be the complainer; ahhh would that have been better?)
Anyway; after this the 3rd time...I was SHARP. But it always hurts not to be believed and for a bully to get away with it. It's not the world I grew up in.