When thinking about bullies, it is apparent to me that this is something I have come across in a lot of instances throughout my life.
Earlier instances were quite subtle, so subtle I just avoided the person to avoid confrontation, Then instances became more obvious, yet still I was not aware it was bullying, but started to slightly stand up for myself and assert myself to try to end the bullying behaviour. The final instance for me was the toughest of them all and one which has changed me and one that I have learned valuable lessons from, a lesson learned that I will never be bullied ever again.
I had been in my job for 10 years, a job I truly loved and was really passionate about. A job I had really put my heart in to and one where I had good relationships with my Directors. We had to recruit a new team member and after holding interviews I chose to take on a new member of the team.
During this person probationary period they portrayed interest in wanting to learn and showed promise, I applied my guidance and coaching skills to set this person up to win. Once the probationary period was over there was a very subtle change in the attitude of this person one which I could not understand as prior to this they were receptive. I chose to allow this person to carry on, although I just thought they wanted me to allow them to get on with the job. As time moved on other members of the team changed towards me, if I walked in a room the conversation would stop.
Drinks evenings were planned without me being invited. On the occasions I was invited, I was left out of the conversation. My working environment felt uncomfortable. If I spoke about the instances they sounded trivial and looking back this was insidious behaviour, I felt it was so apparent that this person must know what they were doing.
Sunday nights were unbearable, the thought of another week ahead made me feel sick to my stomach. I was a single mother of a small child with a mortgage to pay I had no one to turn to and no one to talk to, I felt very isolated. I remember reading to my daughter in bed and tears dropping off my checks because I was so low. I went down to 8 stone, I had no appetite and could barely sleep.
My friend knew the stress I was under and sent me a poster, one which came from DABS Anti Bullying Service. After reading it I chose to call the number. On my first meeting Alison Fox confirmed to me that I was being bullied. I actually felt relieved and with 9 free counselling sessions I became stronger.
Alison helped me see that I could move forward that I could change, and that I could be brave and make big life changing decisions. One thing I do remember Alison asking me was what reason made me stay in my job, I replied ‘because it’s comfortable and that I knew the job like the back of my hand’, Alison replied, ‘but it’s not comfortable, is it?’ And this really resonated with me.
I asked to talk to the MD who along with my line manager said they would do whatever it took to stamp out the behaviour that was being asserted. This did not happen.
I would pray for this person before I went to work. I did not know how to behave, sometime I was really quite, afraid to be me, sometimes I was overly nice not in a false way but was unsure how to get this person to be friendly towards me. I could see they were friendly to others, why did they not like me!!! I drove myself crazy trying to seek approval, one which never came. Things were swirling around in my head, like ‘why should I leave’, ‘I won’t be defeated’, I had done nothing wrong.
The situation grew worse, so I started to keep a log. I reported the situation to our HR department, the situation grew worse so much worse that I decided to elevate things and file a complaint as I could not work in the conditions any longer.
The complaint meant that there was an internal meeting set, a private boardroom was hired for the meeting. I was represented by my line manager and the other person was represented by another senior person in the company. During the meeting we were told that we had to be respectful whilst the other person spoke. The atmosphere was extremely strained. I had written notes of incidents that had happened and how they had made me feel.
During the meeting I spoke from the heart, said that I had employed this person and that I had trained them up, and once they passed probation they had changed, I said that I wanted only good to come from the outcome of the meeting.
The person said various direct words that went for my jugular with accusations that were pretty angry and aimed at my success within the company. It became apparent to me that they wanted to knock me down. I left the meeting very upset and tried as best as I could to move forward in the weeks that progressed and went in to work positively but it felt very uncomfortable.
So I decided that I was going to leave. I sat at home and though about what I am good at, what I love doing and that I was going to attract the right job for me.
I found the company I wanted to work for and whilst there was no position there I chose to contact the company and asked them to create a job for me. Over 6 months later I contacted them again and the invited me in for an interview.
The basically created a job for me and I left my comfortable/uncomfortable position to one where I was valued and fully appreciated. Within in 15 months I had become extremely successfully within my industry and have rebuilt my life .
The trouble is – these lessons will re-appear, as the universe is constantly testing you to see if you have learned anything. It’s up to you how you STOP this from happening to you again, recently similar scenarios have risen their heads, and my immediate reaction was one of..’oh no not again’…but instead of this behaviour consuming me I have put my boundary’s in place.
I refuse to allow another person’s inexcusable behaviour make me feel like I cannot be myself. My mantra is ‘I do not own this, I will not allow anyone to take away my personal power’. The best thing to do is not to feed these people, don’t give them too much power, and sometimes it’s us that have to change the most to stop this from happening to us.