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HBO’s “Getting On” and Workplace Bullying

409454_PA_Getting-On_27x40Given the epidemic of toxic workplaces in the healthcare industry it shouldn’t surprise viewers that the second season of HBO’s “Getting On” opened with the topic of workplace bullying front and center in a very sensitive way. As the title implies, the show takes place in a hospice center. Nurse Dawn is being pressured by her superior to help with a research project in addition to her already emotionally overwhelming job tasks.

Dawn’s immediate supervisor, Patsy De La Serda, tries to help her understand the situation she’s in:

“Dawn, I think we both know what it is. It’s Dr. James. You’re in an abusive and toxic relationship with a woman who hates women and she’s taking it out on you. I think you have difficulty maintaining firm boundaries and saying no.”

Dawn responds: “I say no to her all the time even though it’s very hard for me. It’s true that I am sensitive and it’s true that I let people take and take and take and take and I’m not very comfortable it doesn’t come natural for me to focus on me.”

Patsy counsels her: “Which is why we need to work on your mindfulness training. You can’t be solid in life unless you’re solid with yourself. I take care of me first and then you. I put my seatbelt on then yours. Mindfulness is mind fullness.” [more below]

HBO Clip

Later, during a staff meeting they open the suggestion box to find one from anonymous: “Could Doctors, especially Directors of Medicine, kindly stop abusing and coercing nurses into participating as unpaid research assistants.”

It’s clear in the conversation that follows that the Director of Medicine (Dr. James) has no clue that what she’s accused of doing is over the line or that her behavior is perceived as abusive or overbearing — in fact she quickly turns the conversation around to try to show to everyone that she’s the real victim. Dr. James also knows perfectly well that anonymous is Dawn. “I can’t even look at you,” Dawn tells her. “Because, if I look at you either I’m going to feel bad about myself again. I am allergic to you. You have psychologically overwhelmed me. I am physically ill. I am nauseous all the time. I don’t want to do your research I just want you to leave me alone so I can do my job.” Dawn leaves and Patsy tries to speak up for her as the room goes silent.

It’ll be interesting to see where Executive Producers, Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer take the story line. Fingers crossed they don’t go off course, our nurses could use a little TLC.

Pledge to Protect Your Co-Workers: Mental Health Day

October is a special month for workplace bullying advocates for several reasons. (1) it’s National Bullying Prevention Month and (2) it includes Mental Health Day. Sadly, international research has linked the impact of workplace bullying to severe anxiety, depression, and even suicide. You can take action by signing the National Workplace Bullying Coalition’s #StopThatNow pledge to support your co-workers and make your workplace bully-free.

Top 3 Myths of Workplace Bullying

mattice Catherine Mattice, MA is the President of Civility Partners, LLCCivility Partners a consulting, training and coaching firm that provides system-wide solutions for ending bullying and replacing it positive workplace behavior.  Below is a must read excerpt form Mattice’s  book, BACK OFF! is a great resource for targets of abuse looking for tips to help navigate the workplace and make informed choices.  (more…)

Targets of Workplace Bullying: Tracey’s Law

(10:45) Tracey was just two years shy of retirement when her new boss was hired. According to Tracey the new management style included isolation and psychological intimidation. (more…)

Suing A Bully Boss

[This is Part I of an excerpt from Janice Harper’s new book, Mobbed! A Survival Guide to Adult Bullying and Mobbing. Harper advises against suing — but if you find yourself in that situation she offers advice that may well help you understand what’s happening to you. Part II will continue with how to prepare. These are just excerpts, her book goes into much greater detail on internal & external investigations, coping tactics, new ways to understand what’s happening to you and much much more. Let us know if it helped you… ] (more…)

Bullied at Work? You’re Not To Blame

Why are some adults more likely to blame themselves rather than the bully boss bearing down on them? A recent study links self-blame (guilt) to depression and shows that this dangerous combo inhibits the ability to express indignation. The first piece of advice most targets of workplace bullying encounter when they seek help is the important mantra that it’s not their fault. This should be coupled at every turn with “seek counseling” to deal with the depression that often accompanies bullying and can lock targets into a feeling of hopelessness rather than seeking proactive solutions or leaving. (more…)

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