OurBullyPulpit.com Sponsors ‘Take Action’ Screenings During ‘Freedom From Workplace Bullying Week’

Advocating With Film To Raise Awareness About Workplace Bullying

Many thanks for your surprising support!  Advocates and victim/targets all over the country – and even Australia – are taking part in our use film to create change initiative for both individual and community actions. 

Some of the actions include: 

  • Screening Partyyour_stories1.jpg
  • Mailing DVD to local legislators
  • Lobbying
  • Town Hall Meeting
  • College courses
  • Trainings
  • Sharing with fellow employees who are being bullied
  • Sharing with family members, friends, and co-workers to show the impact of workplace bullying and validate the experience
  • Donating to local library

DVDs have gone out to people across the country in states including:

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Minnesota
  • Massachusetts
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Texas
  • and even outside the U.S. to Australia



external image DVD_TBL.jpg
Wow! The DVD’s featuring moving personal stories that we offered yesterday for free to use in fighting against workplace bullying have been claimed! However, for a limited time or until they run out, if you are in the U.S. and willing to pay for postage we will send one to each person who emails a request. The only caveat is the same – you have to let us know how you used the DVD to educate others about this issue. Be creative and get the word out!  [More Information]

Each DVD contains Tracey’s LawMarlene’s LawJodie’s Law, and the first episode of What Really Killed Kevin Morrissey. Use PayPalto pay for shipping and receive a Free DVD or Send your request to OurBullyPulpit@gmail.com

Guide To Kicking B*tt In The Workplace

In the struggle to combat workplace bullying it’s important to admit that we worker bees aren’t always perfect.  Weak managers can quickly lose the respect of their team only to watch them spiral hopelessly out of control and even mob up on their leader.   In the interesting Businessweek article below,  Jeff Schmitt tells bosses how to “kick ass” without being psychologically abusive:

A guide to reading your employees the riot act: Time to lay down the law? Some points to consider before you do

[Article by Jeff Schmitt, 10/13/2011 Bloomberg Businessweek/ msnbc.com]

“If I go down, you’re all going down with me.”

Our manager had finally crossed the line with this comment. She had delivered fire-and-brimstone speeches before. But this was different. Suddenly, she wasn’t Vince Lombardi Light, looking to get back to basics. Instead she had degenerated into a narcissistic despot who’d stoop to using us as human shields. She was passing the buck and covering herself. She may have considered it motivation. We saw it as a meltdown.

At some point, every manager must unload a kick-in-the-ass speech. Even the best teams get cocky and careless; they forget what’s important and what got them there. But here’s a reality check: If you have to deliver “The Speech,” you’re probably failing as a manager. Before you let loose with the grand oration, maybe you need a wake-up call. Sure, there’s truth in the adage about tearing people down to build them back up. But getting your team back on track requires more than threats and cursing. Want to really get their attention? Read the following recommendations.

1. Consider if The Speech is merited
Sure, you’re disappointed with performance. Before you go Knute Rockne, consider if the situation warrants an explosion … or coaching. Are you nearing a tipping point where financials or expectations dictate an intervention? Is there a broader motif, such as slow service, that could spill into critical areas such ascustomer retention? Should this diatribe be public and include everyone or could it be handled privately with certain members? Most important, what do you want to achieve? Bottom line: Weigh the offense against your options and the desired response.

2. Come with a plan
You’re probably tempted to graphically challenge their commitment and competence. But you’ll only look clumsy if you ad-lib The Speech. You want your team squirming, stomachs sinking, minds racing. That requires strategy: a bolo-punch opening, unassailable arguments, and a call to action that echoes for weeks. Even more, it demands rehearsing to get tone, pace, posture, and gestures just right. Fact is, you only get one or two speeches before your team tunes you out. Make this one count.

3. Don’t fly off the handle
A loose cannon. That’s how you’ll be labeled if you can’t control your emotions. They’ll snicker and lampoon you to everyone within earshot. Your anger, however genuine, must be calibrated for effect. Before you venture into the lion’s den, step back, breathe, and relax. Remember, an icy resolve often commands more attention than a rant. A pause can be as lethal as a pejorative.

4. Prep them
Surprise! Surprise! No, your speech shouldn’t come as a shock. In fact, it should hark back to previous fireside chats, where you focused on listening and understanding. Back then, you expected that your coaching would establish how important the task at hand was. But the time for such niceties has passed. A hands-on approach is needed. They can’t say they didn’t see it coming.

5. Cite specific examples
The Speech is no time for generalizations. Be specific: What actions and underlying sentiments are creating tensions and why are they unproductive and inappropriate? How has it affected customers and other departments? Of course, outline how these shenanigans have hit the radar of those above you — and what consequences will follow if they continue.

6. Keep it short
Your job is to shake them up and leave a lasting impression. The less said, the better. Let their imaginations run wild; it’ll keep your message on top. Don’t go off on tangents or pile on, either. It will only dilute your message. Cut quickly and deeply, then move on.

7. Set expectations
You’ve identified the problem. Now what? Start by leaving no ambiguity with the takeaways. Specify exactly what you expect, along with when and how. Don’t forget to spell out the repercussions for failing to meet these expectations. Hammer home that the time for second chances has long passed.

8. Monitor your own behavior
Their eyes will probably glaze over during your speech. Why? They’ve been mirroring your behavior. Is it any wonder you haven’t been getting through? Address it in your speech. Accept some blame and summarize how you’ll change. Then hold yourself as accountable as you hold your team for the result.

9. Rebuild bridges
You go to battle with the people you have, not necessarily the ones you want. Afterward, your team will make excuses and entertain mutiny. That’s why you need to quickly reel them back. Reach out, one by one, to tutor, praise, and motivate. You’ve shared what needed to be said. Now convey through action that there are no hard feelings. Don’t let them confuse you with the message.

10. Follow up
You’ve thrown down the gauntlet. But the weeks following The Speech will ultimately determine its success. That’s why you need to stay on the issue. Address it in interactions and meetings and constantly collect results. And when the time is right, celebrate. You may have devised the plan, but your team will ultimately win the battle.

Divas in the Workplace

Managmement Today [UK] gives advice on how to deal with BIG EGOS:

If you are their boss

This is your key responsibility – so don’t shirk it, even if they are your star performer. It is rare in business today that one person can do everything; you need the whole team to succeed. Tackle them directly, and in private. The key message is ‘You are great, and you could be even better’.  Focus on the fact that this type of behaviour is hindering their promotion prospects.

If you are their colleague

Remember to have the right mindset – you are not trying to put them down, you are trying to help them to be more effective. Tackle them in private, and if you can get another colleague to come along too then that helps. You need to show them that it’s not just ‘you versus them’ but that there is a wider consensus within the team that things need to change. Focus on giving them alternative behaviour strategies.

If you are an underling

This isn’t your responsibility – but you can transform the working environment and your own reputation positively if you choose to tackle the big egos – remember David and Goliath. Strange as it may seem, it’s best to tackle them in a very public forum: our culture does not allow egotists to crush the little people, so you will get back up from others. Focus on how their behaviour is demoralising you and others – so the emphasis is not on them, but the effect it has on you. Try and have a word with one of their work colleagues beforehand so you know you have an instant ally.

We all want great strikers on our team who can get the ball in the back of the net at the critical time. We all accept that with some of these skills is bound to come a good dollop of personal ego, and we can cope with it most of the time. We also all have a duty to stand up to these egos when they get too big for their boots

– Christopher Barrat is a motivational speaker and communications expert to those in the public eye. He can be contacted at www.greystone.co.uk  read the full article here

Tracey’s Law: “My Bullying Experience Was Psychological” (Pt 2)

“She had her agenda – to get rid of me”

Q: Can you describe what form the bullying took where you worked?

Tracey: My bullying experience was psychological. if you have seen the video, “Tracey’s Law,” you will see that I was an emotional wreck when I finally left my job of nearly 20 years after being bullied for only 6 mnoths. I was a high-level employee, an office manager, and my bully was new to the institution. She had her agenda – to get rid of me but to have me quit instead of firing me (even though I was employed at will). She isolated me from co-workers by putting space between us and telling me I was not allowed to talk to any of them. She gave me time-relevant assignments to do without the necessary resources to complete the task efficiently. She lied about me, talked about my performance (or lack thereof) behind my back, and alienated me from coworkers I had been with for nearly 20 years. My bullying was thoroughly and successfully psychological.

Q: What steps did you take to try to stop it?

Tracey: Since my bully was a new hire, and my supervisor, I sought out different ways of working with her that I thought may be more successful and, in turn, she would see me as somebody who could really help her in her new role as Chair of a large department. Having been there for so long, I knew everybody and what their roles were, how they worked, etc. I went to some employee development, had one-on-one consultations with the university employee development department, and finally spoke with Human Resources – my biggest mistake. They would not listen to me and continued saying that I was having troubles simply because I was not used to her style of management. However, I had three supervisors before her who had different management styles and I adapted well to each of them. When I was confident they were not going to help me in any way, I had to use my last resort and reported that my bully was falsifying her timesheets. So much for the whistleblower law! After that, it was clear she had been spoken to about that because the harrasment got worse and worse. I was becoming more and more distressed and depressed.

Q: How did you cope during that time? Where did you draw your support from?

Tracey: I didn’t cope very well during that time. I had nobody to talk to in the department since they were all told not to talk to me. I drew my support from my family and from searching the internet for “workplace bullying” and found some resources there. Much of the information and steps the Institute for Workplace Bullying had laid out did not or would not help me. I had already tried what I could try and I was documenting information about my bullying experiences, but Human Resources was not going to be of any help to me at all. I met with my family practitioner and she suggested I take some time off to get myself together (I was an emotional wreck at that point and very depressed). I finally agreed and ended up taking a leave of absence that lasted 6 mos. When my six months had expired, I was told I needed to return to my job or resign. I was still traumatized and did not believe that anything would change upon my return, so I resigned.

Tracey’s Law is featured on our “Virtual Town Hall” page or can be accessed for free on both YOUTUBE &Vimeo.


When Is a Law Too Business Friendly?

Many of the victims of workplace bullying that I come in contact with are devastated by the struggle to overcome anger and feelings of powerlessness.   They want to take action.  They want to protect others.  They want a law!

Proposed legislation like the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) seems made to order.  But, Patricia G. Barnes argues that the bill is “unnecessarily restrictive” and “would require American workers who are targets of workplace bullying to jump high hurdles that do not exist for workers in other countries.  There is no valid reason to set the bar lower for American workers.”

Barnes’ bio is impressive and lists her as an appellate judge, a licensed attorney (admitted in PA only), a Westlaw Round Table Group “Employee Relations” expert witness, and a legal author with experience in both domestic violence and employment law.  She understands workplace bullying and she understands law.

“One idea might be federal legislation to amend Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to permit any worker to sue if subjected to a hostile workplace environment,” she writes.  “Another idea is to approach the problem as an important public health issue – which it is – and adopt health and safety regulations to protect employees on that basis. Finally, one might think local – push cities and towns to adopt legislation to protect employees from workplace abuse.”

Or, the Healthy Workplace Bill could be amended into something stronger.  The passionate volunteers fighting for the HWB can add (or delete) language in the bill that places limitations on abused and bullied workers.  Here is Barnes’ critique of the HWB:

“The Healthy Workplace Bill”

[by Patricia G. Barnes] This proposed bill (see below) was drafted by Professor David C. Yamada of  Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA, and is supported by the Workplace Bullying Institute at a web site called, The Healthy Workplace Bill.

Without detracting from the fine work of Prof. Yamada and the WBI, it is unfortunate that the Healthy Workplace Bill is somewhat anemic compared to legislation  adopted elsewhere on workplace bullying.

For one thing, the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill  would require a victim to provide evidence of malicious intent to bully.  Malice is defined in the proposed bill as “the desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.”  Part of the “art” of  workplace bullying is subtlety. The target may be the victim of a thousand pin pricks that add up to a mortal wound. The bully acts covertly and uses manipulation to debilitate  the target. Bullies are notorious for showing one face to the target and another to his/her supervisor. It would be very difficult to prove malice in these situations and one can only wonder why this is a requirement  in the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill. 

The proposed bill also would require the target to provide proof of tangible  psychological or physical harm to the plaintiff.  This  would pose a burden for targets who don’t have health care coverage or the funds or the cultural disposition to see a therapist. How can they prove tangible psychological harm?  Also, overwhelming research shows that bullying causes  stress that may contribute to physical harm that only becomes apparent many years later – such as heart disease.  This should be taken into account.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court says a plaintiff in a Title VII civil rights harassment case does not have to prove concrete psychological harm.   “Certainly Title VII bars conduct that would seriously affect a reasonable person’s psychological well-being, but the statute is not limited to such conduct. So long as the environment would reasonably be perceived, and is perceived, as hostile or abusive, Meritor, supra, at 67, there is no need for it also to be psychologically injurious.” Harris v. Forklift System,  510 U.S. 17 (1993).

According to Katherine Lippel, an international authority on workplace abuse, laws in other countries do not have the above restrictions, which would make it far more difficult for a plaintiff  to prevail in litigation. Ms. Lippel is the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law, University of Ottawa, Canada.  Here’s what Ms. Lippel has to say about The Healthy Workplace Bill:  “It is understandable that the difficult context applicable in the United States with regard to rights of workers may favor a more restrictive legislative approach for purposes of political expediency, yet even some authors from the United States have expressed concern with the restrictive conditions proposed in the Healthy Workplace Bill.”

Furthermore, the wording of Section 7(b) limits  damages for emotional distress to $25,000 (with no punitive damages)  in  cases where an employer is found to be liable but the target does not suffer an adverse employment action such as termination. This  affects targets of bullying who are not demoted or fired. But why?  There is at least one highly publicized case where an alleged target of workplace bullying committed suicide because he thought that he was  going to be demoted or fired.    This cap is so low that it could  fail to adequately compensate a target of severe bullying and would  not serve as a useful deterrent to employers to halt workplace bullying.

Possibly the limiting language of the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill  reflects a concern by its drafters that employers will fight workplace anti-bullying legislation unless it is sufficiently weak. My feeling is that American workers deserve at least the same level of protection as other workers around the world.

[This article excerpt is reprinted with permission from the blog:  When The Abuser Goes To Work: a legal blog on workplace bullying and abuse.]

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