Passivity and sharks in the workplace.

Postby KeDon12 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:59 am

Hi All,

I’m a mid level graphic designer and I have a bullying sr. artist who I work under from time to time. Although she is technically not my supervisor I must follow her direction on collaborative projects. I’ve only been with the company for 6 months now and upon hire I was warned by several employees that she is difficult to work with.

My colleagues seem to fluctuate from being at odds to being friendly with her although they talk negatively about her behind her back and never invite her to lunch.

She doesn’t shout but she raises her voice in a condescending tone. She also makes it a point to belittle me in front and in ear shot of colleagues and supervisors. On one occasion she attacked me with such ferocity that another designer apologized for her behavior after she left the room.

My boss is indifferent to her. She is nice to him so he has no reason to dislike her and he doesn’t seem to care how she treats me.

I would like to believe that this woman is an isolated incident but I’ve been dealing with people like this my whole life.

I was the youngest child and both of my parents worked long hours. My needs always came last to my brother and sister.

Throughout high school and college I was brutally, brutally bullied. I would neglect participating in class because I thought it was rude to speak up and interrupt other students and I never defended my work to teachers and other students.

Shortly after High School I finally discovered there was a word for this “passivity” and I began reading self-help books to overcome it. I’m now close to 30 and the more time goes by I see this issue impact my life. Most people are nice enough not to take advantage of me but some (like this woman) see me as an easy target and an opportunity to scapegoat or walk all over me.

I’ve read about half a dozen books on passivity and watched videos. I’ve tried following advice from "experts" but most of it seems unrealistic “in a perfect world” scenario. It wasn't getting me anywhere.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:57 am

A good place to start is to stop labeling other people as "bullies."

Everytime you label yet another person a "bully," you are saying that you are a helpless victim. You label, you blame, and that makes you feel good, because then you are no longer responsible for how you act. Whatever grades you made, whatever promotion or opportunity you don't receive, whatever issue you face it is not your fault, but the fault of those darn people you label "bullies."

You are 30 in an adult work environment, not a school playground. A bully is the big kid that intentionally targets the odd, smaller kid during recess. This coworker isn't targeting you, she doesn't even care about you. She is not on a playground, but an adult in a workplace just trying to get whatever job the boss wants done. She isn't picking up on your weakness, she doesn't give two sh*ts about your self-help books. She is there to earn a paycheck and get a promotion. She might not be very nice, she might be aggressive and rude, but that doesn't make her a bully.
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#2

Postby KeDon12 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:43 pm

I appreciate your response but you're wrong. For starters there have been innumerable studies on workplace bullying some of which find 1 in 4 workers report being bullied. Not to mention the recent widely publicized suicide of the DQ fast food employee last month.

Documented evidence of workplace bullying is indisputable. Your idea and understanding of bullying is a caricature based off cliches and Hollywood movies "A bully is the big kid that intentionally targets the odd, smaller kid during recess." In fact, large, overweight people are far more likely to be targets of bullying then the thin scrawny. I do appreciate your response but you clearly don't know what your talking about, although you did stay at the Holiday Inn last night.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:29 pm

KeDon12 wrote:I appreciate your response but you're wrong. For starters there have been innumerable studies on workplace bullying some of which find 1 in 4 workers report being bullied. Not to mention the recent widely publicized suicide of the DQ fast food employee last month.


Go to Google Scholar my friend and research "bullying" from the year 1900 to 2000 and you will find 37,300 results. The studies discuss the school yard "bully".

Then use the years 2000 - 2017, and you will find 197,000 results. Still, most will be about bullying in school, but as you have stated there are now studies of bullying in the workplace. Why? Why such a huge increase from 37,300 results over a 100 year period, and then it skyrockets to 197,000 results? Did you ever consider why?

I will let you in on a little secret. BECAUSE IT'S POPULAR!!!! Researchers make money and get political points for jumping on the "bully" bandwagon. "Bullying" is a new research movement that is unfortunately very sad, because it allows the very people it is suppose to help remain victims.

Instead of the researchers placing their research in a broader historical context and admitting that "bullying" is just a flash in the pan concept that will be laughed at 100 years from now, they conduct studies and act as if it is some great, revolutionary finding.

Here is another secret. There is absolutely no significant difference in how people were treated in the workplace 2,000 years ago than today, except it is more likely back then you were either a slave or your working conditions did not have air conditioning or a nice health care plan. Still, there were bosses and coworkers and people that were "aggressive" or "passive". People felt others were condescending and rude back then, same as today. It is just that today it has become popular to chase down evidence of "bullying" in every nook and cranny of the globe so that you can publish a paper and believe you are making a difference.

Bottom line. If you want to play the "bully" card and jump on the bandwagon with all these yahoos that want to convince you that the workplace is somehow so terrible or different than anytime in the past, that is up to you. The other path, the healthier path is to recognize that you are your own problem. Stop blaming others, stop looking for excuses, stop playing the victim, stop thinking the workplace is a schoolyard.
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#4

Postby Candid » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:38 am

KeDon12 wrote:I was the youngest child and both of my parents worked long hours. My needs always came last to my brother and sister.

Throughout high school and college I was brutally, brutally bullied.

Most people are nice enough not to take advantage of me but some (like this woman) see me as an easy target and an opportunity to scapegoat or walk all over me.


You're aware of where this began so I suggest you tackle the issue soon. Start by googling "family scapegoat" and take it from there.
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#5

Postby whybotherwhynot » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:54 pm

I like and agree with many posts of Richard@DecisionSkills. Richard seems nice, intelligent, smart and helpful to many people on here. But this time I disagree with his definition of a bully as: “A bully is the big kid that intentionally targets the odd, smaller kid during recess.”

A bully does not necessarily have to be a bigger person than the one who is being bullied. Why does someone become a bully? It could be that person was raised/growing up in the mean spirited family/community and learned from what people around him/her had done. A bully can be a small person, but s/he has a powerful mind and knows how to network, gang up and use influence to intimidate and force someone to do what s/he wants.

Bullying happens everywhere: in schools, families, workplaces, governments and society in general.

In school, someone bullies someone else because of the insecure and jealousy. Girls are jealous with some other girl because she is more beautiful and smarter in studying and has better grades. Guys are jealous with some other guy because that guy is smarter also and has more girls liking him. Yes, and there are bullies who target the “odd” because mostly the extroverted ones think the introverted ones are odd or weird. I observed in society that there are more extroverts than introverts. And the extroverts think they are normal ones and the introverts are abnormal; and the “normal” ones like to make fun of the “abnormal” ones.

In the workplace, bullying happens because co-workers/colleagues are competitive with each other and want to climb up the ladder. Someone may want to bribe the management, sweet talk to the leader and gang up to belittle someone who works hard and even has good technical skills but does not know how to socialize. Some new leader bullies some subordinates because those subordinates may have been in the company/corporate for quite a while and know the company inside out and may have better knowledge and skills than the leader. That leader feels insecure working with those subordinates and wants to get rid of them, so s/he can have total power to the rest.

Bullies are like the stepmother in the story Snow White. That stepmother cannot stand anyone who is better than her. And when she looks into the magic mirror on the wall and learns there's Snow White is more beautiful than her, and living somewhere, she tries to find way to kill Snow White, so she can be the “best”.

@KeDon12, you mentioned about the DQ case, I’ve been reading this very interesting link. I don’t know if you know about it? If not, here it is:

https://forums.plentyoffish.com/datingP ... 97238.aspx

I’d experienced bullying in my workplace. But I fortunately have a good, engaged employer who investigates everything and makes fair decisions (this is my own opinion; I don’t know about my colleagues’ opinions). I felt very sick and hurt when it was happening. I’m okay now. Try to forget the past. I love my job and want to do my best for the company.

Wish you all the best.
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:31 pm

whybotherwhynot wrote: But this time I disagree with his definition of a bully as: “A bully is the big kid that intentionally targets the odd, smaller kid during recess.”

Bullying happens everywhere: in schools, families, workplaces, governments and society in general.



@whybotherwhynot

My description of a "bully" is only intended as a stereotypical portrayal of the original concept that has since been bastardized by the "scientific" community to promote their "research" in the current socio-political context where the label "bully" is seen as a popular way to get published.

As you stated, bullying happens everywhere. Guess what also happens everywhere? Passive people with low self-esteem that have not been taught to stand up for themselves, the so called "victims" of more aggressive others labeled as "bullies".

Where society has gone wrong, is in enabling this entire "scientific" movement. Instead of research focusing on the person with low self-esteem, the passive, meek individual and what can be done to help them be more successful in the world, the research is focused on identifying the "bully" and explaining to the passive, meek individual with low self-esteem, why they are a victim.

I agree with you whybothernot, there are bullies everywhere. There always have been and always will be "bullies." And there always will be people that blame the "bully" for why they are not successful in life.

Ultimately, what is the most disconcerting is the extent to which the label "bully" is thrown around. Currently there are people having their heads literally cut off, women being raped, genocide is taking place in various parts of the world, while in other areas of the world you have movements to create "safe spaces" so that a person with low self-esteem doesn't need to worry that a colleague might criticize their work in a manner that hurts their feelings.

Passive, meek individuals with low self-esteem is nothing new. Neither are aggressive people. What is new is the depths we have gone to to enable people with low self-esteem to play victim.
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#7

Postby KeDon12 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:27 am

@whybotherwhynot Thanks for the link. The DQ suicide is almost a landmark case as it may motivate employers to step anti-bullying tactics although I think in many cases bullying or workplace competition is fostered by employers to step up employee performance. Other times, like in this DQ case the manager was clearly disliked (given the testimony of her subordinates) and she use Kenneth Suttner as a whipping boy and made an example out of him - similar to what my colleague is doing to me.

However, I acknowledge the fact that problem is me. I can't change (nor do I want to change) other people and this problem will follow me for the rest of my life if I can't change me.

My frame of mind tells me that I don't deserve to put myself before others, that it's not okay to attack others when they're attacking me, and that it's perfectly acceptable to allow others to walk all over me. I'm not sure where this thinking came from (i.e. if it was genetic or learned) but I have a strong my christian upbringing played a huge role.

Probably the most glaring example was when I was working for a tiny startup a few years ago. We were paid on Sundays (I worked during the weekends). One Sunday I noticed that my check was missing and when I asked my manager she snapped at me claiming there were changes needed on a project and that I wouldn't receive my check until I finished them. It was really odd, because she previously never asked for the changes - it wasn't like I was postponing or refusing to do them. I didn't stand up for myself but the next day my blood started to boil and I went to the owner of the company for my check. She was indifferent and told me to work it out with the manager. Finally after about 30+ emails and text messages my manager finally caved and agreed to mail me the check. Later I found out this was completely illegal and they owed me money in penalties and fines for withholding but I was so passive that I didn't seek a claim against her.

When someone attacks or does something malicious to me I lock up. My mind begins to race and I become paralyzed. I don't understand it. I want to defend myself but it's like someone is pointing a gun at my head and threatening me if I do. Even when I know there is no physical or emotional harm that could come of defending myself, I still freeze up. For some reason I feel like I deserve to be mistreated and if I defend myself something awful will happen to me when in fact history has shown us that it is those who don't defend themselves end up suffering the most.
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#8

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:26 pm

KeDon12 wrote: However, I acknowledge the fact that problem is me. I can't change (nor do I want to change) other people and this problem will follow me for the rest of my life if I can't change me.


Exactly. First step is to stop buying into that today is somehow different than 2,000 years ago. There have always been aggressive and passive people, from the beginning of our species. The "alpha", jerk, kick sand in your face has always been a part of society and always will be. Now that they have a new and shiny label for it called "bully" it is unfortunately being used to distract passive people that need help. The passive people don't need to be told they are victims. They need help learning to be more assertive.

That is where you need to start if you want the problem to not follow you the rest of your life. Look into learning the "how to" of being assertive.
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