Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Surviving Workplace Abuse: Why I write about my experience in the workplace


A friend told me recently that she doesn't read my blog because she works hard to be positive and doesn't allow negativity in her life.

That simple statement, said as a fact not maliciously, not in a manner to hurt, gave me a lot to think about.

Am I a negative person?  Is that how my readers see me?  Or, rather, perceive me?

I've worked hard to be positive even when it didn't seem like there was much to be positive about.  Even when I spent more time completely down for the count on my bed than up and doing anything productive.  Even when the brain was so scrambled that it was hard to think, let another verbalize, a coherent thought.

I once told a close friend that there was always something to be thankful for.  Less than a week later, the bottom fell out of my little world and I faced renewed struggles with more trauma added onto what I already had experienced.  More injury.  More scrambling of the brain cells.  Etc.

Those words came back to sting me big time:  "there is always something to be thankful for".  I believe there is.  The problem is sometimes you have to dig pretty deeply to find it under all the maneur life throws at you.

I think the big thing here in this blog is not necessarily whether I'm negative, positive, a little bit of both, or even a realist.  The fact is that bullying is not a fun topic to talk about.  To write about.  Or to read about.

It's horrific.  Not in the same sense as a car accident, a bombing, or a shooter coming into a school or workplace and getting their revenge on real or perceived wrongs.  It's horrific in the impact it has one lives - one victim, usually, at a time.

Those of us who have either gone through it, are currently going through it or are walking with those who have gone through it, know that all too well.

Bullying in whatever form it takes - schoolyard or workplace - is never positive.  It's never a good thing to happen.  Plain and simple - it's wrong.  Very wrong.

My aim is not to depress people, but to raise awareness of workplace bullying.  That it's not a simple personality clash.  To educate people about it's reality.  What it is. What it does to people.  Why it's wrong.  And also to provide a basis for support and recovery for those who have or are going through it.  To let people know that recovery is possible.  That there is hope for a better tomorrow.  That their past may well affect certain aspects of their lives, but It. Does. Not. Determine. Their. Value. Or. Their. Future.

Workplace bullying is not vague.  It's complicated.  Very complicated.  And messy.

I'm guessing that each situation of workplace bullying is different depending on who is doing the bullying i.e. co-workers, management, etc.  It can be vertical.  Meaning one supervisor is bullying one employee.  It can also be vertical with an employee bullying a supervisor.  And then there's lateral bullying - which is what I experienced - with an employee targeting a co-worker.  How many people are involved.  Which form of bullying is it?  Serial, pairing, vicarious, mobbing?  Just to name a few. 

 In my case, the scenario got very messy and very complicated quickly because even at the outset I had more than one co-worker involved.  It started out with three co-workers.  Two in my office and one in another office.  I've already written about her in my last post.  I truly believe there was more than one form of bullying present in my situation.  I believe it started out with one or two serial bullies who paired together with each other and with another person who I believe specialized in vicarious bullying.  Later, as time and the situation progressed, more people - the bystanders - jumped on the bandwagon and joined the movement thus becoming mobbing.

For me it began with a three-headed bully.  It was hard, even at the onset, to separate the heads and determine the dynamics of these co-workers' relationship with each other.  I think it's safe to say that these people fed on each other.  Each one had hurts, each one appeared to feel that others were out to get them or hurt them (my perception based on observation and overheard conversations).  Somehow, these three found each other and formed a relationship both inside and outside the office.  They also found a common enemy:  me.

The Bible talks about a three stranded cord not being easily broken.  Three strands make the rope - or cord - strong.  Strong enough to withstand heavy duty pressure.  The strands intertwine with each other and cannot be easily separated or broken.  That is what my situation in the workplace was like.  Three strands.  Three heads.  Three bullies.  Together they became an unstoppable force.

In the end, I think what happened to me in the workplace was more about these people than it was about me.

*******

This is not the post I intended to write today.  Yes, I know you've heard that one before.  It seems to happen regularly.  I fully intended to continue on the story about the second co-worker I believe to be a serial bully but this concept about negativity derailed me a bit.  However, I've been thinking about how to simplify what happened to me in the workplace so that the reader can more easily understand the dynamics involved.

With three people involved in the beginning, it was already complicated.  And it got messier and more complicated as time progressed.

This one post alone contains a lot of fodder for more postings on the different forms bullying can take i.e. serial, pairing, vicarious, mobbing, etc.  These are the four that are relevant in my situation.

Until tomorrow....


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