Monday, September 29, 2014

Surviving Workplace Bullying: Staci's Story

Workplace bullying is becoming more and more a concern.  I don't know if the prevalence of workplace bullying has significantly increased in the last decade or if awareness of workplace bullying has increased.  Either way.  Workplace bullying is a force to be reckoned with.

I have long believed that I am not the only one who has encountered and been affected by bullying in the workplace.  I believe there are a lot of us out there.  Mostly invisible.  Mostly unheard.  But crying out for visibility.  Crying out to be heard.

Today, I share with you Staci's story:  a incredible survivor.

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I'm S.C. Sowers, Certified Law of Attraction Practitioner, Ordained Spiritual Coach and Bullying Awareness Advocate.  My first encounter with bullying in the workplace actually happened  when I was in my late 20's.  I was working for a National Travel Agency as a Travel Counselor.  I was unfortunate enough to witness a conversation between one of the Travel Agents and a customer.  The conversation was a little tense and the customer became a little testy.  After the customer had removed themselves from the office, the Travel Agent involved in the incident made a comment about the customers ethnic background.  It wasn't a malicious comment, but rather a comment about there being a large ethnic population in the city  in which we were currently living, and how it made her uncomfortable, not understanding their culture.  In the middle of her conversation with herself, something happened and she swore silently to herself.  In context, she had done nothing wrong except perhaps succumbing to the stress of the retail environment and vocalizing it out loud on her way to the back room.  The Manager of the office however, overheard bits and pieces of her story and created his own version of what had transpired.  It was escalated to Human Resources. Shortly after it's escalation, the Travel Agent involved relayed to me that since I was a witness to the incident, the HR Manager was requesting a call from me.  My Office Manager was out of the office that particular day, and since the HR Manager out ranked me in seniority, I called her as I was directed.  When I called, she seemed to know why I was calling, so I didn't question anything. She inquired about the incident, and I was honest with her.  We ended the call and I thought everything was fine. The next day when I arrived in the office, my Office Manager cleared out the back room, slammed the doors and trapped my inside.  He demanded that I sit at the table, and accused me of going behind his back and over his head to the HR Manager in defense of "my friend".  I was naturally  terrified by his abrupt, rude and downright scary behavior. In fact, I almost got up and called the police,  because I clearly felt my safety was being threatened.  Instead, I carefully and nervously recounted the previous days events, honestly and as accurately as I was able.  When I was done, he nastily said.." Good answer, you're lucky, you can keep your job." He got up and left the room.  I was so shaken that I went home and told my husband.  He immediately advised me to begin my search for another job.  It was an experienced which both scared and scarred me.  It was because I had integrity that I was cornered, and because I was naive that my Manager got away with bullying.  I of course, wish now that I had reported him. In the end, I was able to find employment elsewhere. But it took me a long while to really get over the way I was treated. 
My second experience with bullying in the workplace occurred when I accepted a survival job for a Respitory DME company.  I have a disability called Expressive Language Disorder, which is related to Dyslexia.  When it's expected that I complete online modules to read policy, take tests, etc, there are occasions which I need extra time and a quiet place to complete these requirements.  This was one of those times.  I did as I was supposed to, I explained my needs and requested accommodations.  My request was flatly denied.  While I did complete the required material in the time they requested, I did so with difficulty and a lower passing score then I would have,  had the requested accommodations been approved.  After I completed the required testing  I was then  subjected to repeat questions regarding my ability to learn, to read and my overall ability to do the job for which I had been hired in to perform.  I was actually called into their HR office, and they asked me to read material in order to prove I was able to read.  In my shocked and vulnerable state, I did as they requested.  Luckily I had received a phone call from another employer that same day about another position and I called them, accepted the position and left that job, never looking back. In fact, it happened all in the same day.  Again, getting over this experience took much longer. 
Bullying happens way too often in the workplace. It happens to adults too. It's not just in school yards and with children and teens.  While I do feel it's valuable to reach out and bring awareness to it in the school systems, it's being neglected in the workplaces. How are we supposed to teach our children not to bully others when the parents are the ones who are setting the examples and are often guilty of the same?  
I currently work with people in transition, people who have been victims of bullying in the workplace, in churches and in their personal lives.  It's all too common and all too ignored in today's society.   Here at C & A Coaching, my goal is to help those who have been victims transition into more successful circumstances, through awareness, education, effort and positive thinking.  You can learn more about C & A Coaching at http://clarityandawareness.webs.com/.
Bullying is abuse. There's no getting around it.  It's emotional, mental and can affect a person for life.  The feelings of helplessness, isolation  and persecution bring pain.  The reason for it varies.  Perhaps the person being bullied is over qualified for the job and those doing the bullying are threatened? Maybe the person who is being bullied has a mild disability and requires extra effort and understanding, or perhaps their circumstances are misunderstood, therefore they're targeted, or maybe the bullied is only a bit different.  Whatever the reason, there is never a good excuse.  

Fortunately I was able to over come my experience and now my focus is on helping others who have been through it achieve success.

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Thank you, Staci, for being willing to write this post and to share your story.  

I invite anyone who has a story to share to contact me.  We all have a story to share.  We all need to be heard.

Until tomorrow....


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