Last week, one of our participants revealed to me that she had a bully for a boss. She didn't say that per se, but when she got upset during the exam and said her supervisor would yell at her if she failed, it was obvious to me that that was the case. I thought of how sad it was that this poor woman worked to serve others, yet was a victim of abuse from the very same organization that provides support. Can't we all just get along? Can't we all practice what we preach?
I've dealt with more than my fair share of bullies in the workplace in my own working-life. Before I joined CPI, I worked in travel. Travel is an industry that seems to breed bullies (at least when I worked in it). One company I worked for created incentive travel programs for its clients and was family-owned. I was one of five program directors. The owners' son was my boss. This guy spent most of his time making sure his hand-tailored shirts were correctly monogrammed with his initials (MM). After working there for less than a week, I figured his initials stood for either Mostly Misery or Major Malcontent. He once confided in me (perhaps as a precursor to his plans for me) that he had taken great pleasure in having made every one of "his" program directors cry at some point. He treated most employees with disdain, was completely self-absorbed, and took his cues from his mother, who was an even bigger tormentor than he was. She used to bulldoze her way from cubicle to cubicle, browbeating all the workers while a select group of self-serving, fawning parasites marched behind her with pen and paper, taking meticulous notes on how to be thoroughly nasty and completely life-draining. She was a great role model in that regard.
I was having a particularly bad day when MM decided the time was right to pounce on my stressed nerves. He began yelling and screaming at me while I was on the phone trying to secure some scarce cruise-ship berths for one of OUR clients. His rantings, which were loud enough for the entire office of 50 employees to hear, consisted of the fact that I would lose my job if I didn't get space for our clients on the ship. At some point between, "DAN! THIS IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!" and "THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON YOUR JOB!", I just lost it. I slammed the phone down and replied, "LOOK, I'LL GET YOU THE BERTHS IF YOU JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE. I'VE ALMOST SECURED THEM, NOW JUST BACK OFF!!!" Forget hearing a pin drop, you could have heard dust settling. No one in that office had ever spoken to anyone from that family in such a manner . . . ever. MM slinked back into his slimy corner and I continued my quest for the elusive cruise-cabin space. I quit that job two weeks later. Before my departure, I learned through the office grapevine that I was a hero of sorts and that everyone who worked there wished they had done the same thing at some point. Unemployment is a small price to pay for lifting the spirits of, and being an inspiration to, my fellow working stiffs. They threw me a big party at the local bar on the day I quit. Proof is in the pudding.
I am certainly not advocating the path I took. It's a shame it had to come to that, and looking back, I might have approached the situation differently knowing what I know now. But everybody has a tipping point. Behavior impacts behavior and we are all responsible for how we react, regardless. I chose to leave a bad situation on my own terms and THAT I do not regret.
How about YOU blog readers?! You must have a "bully story" just waiting to be heard. This is the forum for it. Please share in the comments section below.
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