[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... ]
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.
Dr. Susan has a great article with tips on how to hang onto the most important survival tool you have: hope. She includes this song in her list of favorite resources for keeping strong while facing an office bully. PLAY IT LOUD. PLAY IT OVER AND OVER.
So, here we are again. It’s 2012 and we’re coming to the end of yet another legislative session. Massachusetts still holds great promise in being the first state to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill even as a rapidly approaching deadline, July 31st, ticks closer. I spoke with the office of Ellen Story, the HWB’s sponsor, and they told me that they really want to pass some form of legislation on this issue. Originally they tried to pass a study bill but it died. So when the HWB became available they grabbed it. Yes, it’s written in a way that greatly favors the employer more so than the person seeking damages but at least the victim/target can get unemployment. That’s what they told me. But, the real question is can the HWB or any other legislation fix workplace bullying? Here’s an article written by an Australian researcher who’s dedicated over 10 years trying to figure out what can. Her findings are sobering. Whatever state legislators accomplish it is time for the Obama Administration and the Department of Labor to bring clarity to this issue on a national level:
Browsing through the digital libray I found this great NY Times Career Couch column from way back in 2007 and it deserves another read especially if you’re starting to wonder if that boss of yours is a bully:
Q. Your boss regularly berates you in department meetings, and the behavior is starting to become offensive to you. What should you do?
A. Think before you act. John McKee, president of Four Windows No Walls Consulting, a consulting firm in Sedalia, Colo., says that although it is never acceptable for a boss to belittle employees, reacting emotionally can prompt you to do something you will regret.
Find your representative and send them a copy of the Care2 petition bearing over 7600 signatures. Ask them to join the fight to stop workplace bullying. If you’ve experienced this abuse first hand or have expertise in this area you can add your own information as well.
[This article was published in May 2012. See our recent posts below]
Two weeks ago, the Washington Post published an article, “Documentary faults ‘bully’ label in U-Va. suicide,” about my film, WHAT KILLED KEVIN. Shortly after the reporter amended the actual article to include allegations from Waldo Jaquith, who is featured in the documentary, that I had “cherry picked” my interview with him to fit my “agenda.” [Note: Jaquith has never seen the film and you can see his video clip and my agenda below] In an unusual move the editors of the Washington Post have since removed all of his allegations and restored the article to its original form with a notice at the top apologizing for their editorial “lapse.” Why the controversy? My film dares to take a neutral stance in exploring the incident that put the term “workplace bullying” on the map by allowing the alleged bully to tell their side of the story. Within weeks of Kevin Morrissey’s suicide, Waldo was featured in a report by the Today Show that linked Kevin’s death to actions by his “bully boss,” Ted Genoways. As the WaPo states: “eventually the case was embraced as a textbook example of a manager’s verbal and psychological abuse of an employee. That reading is far too simple, argues Beverly Peterson… The film ultimately portrays Genoways as a victim — of overhyped reporting, and of exploitation by advocates of workplace-bullying legislation, who have used the case as a national exemplar.
(Personal comments from an online petition created by a coalition fighting workplace bullying that asks the Obama Administration to enact uniform national legislation or regulation in response to the devastating impact of workplace bullying. Each signature generates an email sent directly to President Obama and Secretary of State, Hilda Solis.)
Tragically this is only a small sampling of the stories woven among thousands and thousands of signatures. (Some comments are excerpted)
#6936 ah yes. i remember that boss i had who screamed at me that i couldn’t quit (quite intimidating about it; i was afraid she was going to hit me), and who threw the telephone across the room and kicked animals. fun stuff. good times. y’know
How cool is this!
Beverly, You signed on February 10, 2012. Your signature has been delivered to: Department of Labor and President Obama
Many of us have experienced the devastating consequences of this abuse first hand. Some, like myself, were lucky enough to move on. Far more do not. No one should ever be subjected to a hostile work environment.
Add Your Voice
Using the media to bring attention
It’s not unusual for me to get emails with attached documentation from victims/targets suffering abusive work environments. Sometimes they hold up and sometimes the evidence suggests the real bully is the one reaching out to me – angry that they can’t dictate what management should be doing. No doubt mainstream journalists have had access to these stories for years and ethical concerns about printing subjective information that can destroy careers and businesses kill story after story. But, as bullying has become a popular topic among readers it’s now far more common to see allegations of abuse hit the headlines. The latest example out of Minnesota is featured in today’s Star Tribune:
This New Years I’m giving thanks to all of you who have supported my work and helped me create a powerful network of websites and videos. Top on the list is my tech guru and videographer, Patrick Perrotto, who has always been there. He freely donated the use of his state of the art broadcast quality equipment and did much of the driving.
Over the years we’ve been to Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, New York (numerous times), Virginia (numerous times), Pennsylvania and Canada and I even took a few solos to Wisconsin, Texas & Wales. Pat arranged for Ed Hollema to donate his services as Audio & Asst Camera. Let me put it this way, had we all been paid for our time, services, and equipment it would have easily cost upwards of $200,000+. I am forever indebted to them both. Feel free to help by making a donation of any size.
This year our most popular posts continue to cover a wide range of topics and issues related to workplace bullying. We continue to focus on our mission to critique and offer new voices and alternatives to the current dialogue. Two 2010 posts ( about Mediation & OSHA ) are still extremely popular. Here’s a recap for 2011:
by Norm Keith (reprinted with permission)
The first important decision arising from the Bill 168 amendments to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) has determined verbal threats of workplace violence constitute violence under the new law, which came into force on June 15, 2010.
“It is estimated that half of all executive careers end in failure. “
The dark side” of a supervisor’s personality can impact their ability to manage. The angel on their shoulder can make them a leader. The devil can derail a business. No one asks to be abused at work nor should it ever be excused. And, victim/targets currently struggling with the dehumanizing experience of bullying can hardly be expected to look for the charming aspects of their boss. But, and this is a big BUT, the rest of us need to have the ability to admit that it’s not just bosses who have these traits. How often have you had to deal with a co-worker with “attitude” who uses these same tactics toward the boss – or even you?