Recently, a fellow blogger (the fabulous Beth Rago of Parenting Without a Parachute) posted a link on FB to an article by Barbara Greenberg in the Huffington Post about women on women bullying. Greenberg describes being treated very coldly by another female co-worker, who would do such things as say hi to everyone but Greenberg and even excluded her from the lunch table!
This reminded me of someone I used to work with - a woman - who treated me in much the same way. I just thought she had a terrible personality. It never occurred to me that I was being bullied.
But, bullying wasn't part of the conversation in our culture at that time. And now, looking back, I'm pretty sure I was a victim! This co-worker would refuse to answer my questions and dismiss me from her office, refuse to acknowledge me with even a 'hi' in the hallway and told me on my first day on the job that I probably wasn't going to learn much at this place. Yeah, a welcome wagon, she was not.
Now, as I recall this, I can't help but wonder 'What the hell was her problem?' Greenberg offers some possible reasons for women on women bullying, including stress, perfectionist ideals, competition. In my case, it could have been a reaction to her own dissatisfaction with her job and workplace. Or, it could have just been me. Or, it could have been all of the above. I'll never know.
Whatever the reason, it's no way to act in a professional environment.
But, the experience did teach me a few things about dealing with bullies in the workplace - male or female -
1/ When in doubt, kill the bully with kindness - even if you are rebuffed in the chilliest of ways, never give anyone - especially the bully - the opportunity to point to any unprofessional behavior on your part.
2/ Steer clear of the bully as best you can and just do your job - and do it well, as best you can. Never give anyone - especially the bully - the opportunity to point to any lack of effort on your part.
3/ Sidle up to a cheerleader. The best career advice - and life advice - I ever received was to surround yourself with people who are rooting for you, who want to see you do well. Find a mentor, a cheerleader. In the workplace, as in high school, cheerleaders can provide much needed support while climbing the pyramid.
And, in Stop and Blog the Roses spirit, today, I am grateful for the cheerleaders in my career and in my life who have saved me -
from doing something stupid in response to a bully
and a seat at the lunch table.
Thank you for reading Roses! Follow me on Twitter @FernRonay and on Facebook here.
And, if you're in the market for a birthday gift for yourself or someone else, why not give the gift of gratitude? Roses, the book, is now available on Amazon here.