|By William Russell (Corporateboy84) on Thursday, November 05, 2009 - 3:53 pm: Edit|
I'd like to share with you my story of workplace bullying. I was fired from my job on 9/11 after over 6 months of reputed bullying and have written about my experiences on the topic in my blog, which is called Diary of a Corporate Burnout:
Here is an excerpt from my ongoing story:
The Day It All Went Down
I was 23 when I first started working for my last employer. Every day for a year and a half, I always came in early, around 7:30 am, and spotted the morning paper sitting on the staircase for the VP. When the economy crashed in the fall of 2008, I used to come to work and see the headlines getting worse every day. I would think about the brand new white Nissan I bought, or how I was always saving up for the day I could take a week off and spend it on the beach with my girlfriend. I was thankful to have a job that afforded me the chance to live comfortably. But as time went on, I became fearful of what it would be like to lose my job in these hard economic times.
What would I do? All around me, I was learning about people who were losing their jobs to lay offs. I saw how hard it was for them, and so I made it a point to work hard and try and keep my paycheck. I suppose I worried about losing my job because I was worried about the chain reaction. I lose my job, then maybe lose my girlfriend. Top it off with the loss of a few friends and I’d be on my way to a breakdown.
To others around me at work my fear was subtly apparent. I became increasingly serious and actually began to excel in my job. I thought that “knowing my stuff” and being able to produce results would be my ticket to job security. That’s the sad thing, I was working hard just to keep what I had; I never pandered for a promotion, or had the urge to ask for more compensation, even though I was making only $32K per year.
But hard work does not equal success. In college, I worked hard and earned good grades. I got what I put into it. Yet In the workplace, I saw that there are other things that are involved in success. Although a lot of hard working people are successful, a lot of successful people aren’t hard working. It’s true what they say about “snakes in suits,” because I can tell you firsthand that they are real. I was fired by one. She sucked the life out of my infantile career and forever tainted my faith in working for any organization ever again.
My boss was what psychologist George K. Simon calls “covert aggressive” in his book, In Sheep’s Clothing, which talks extensively about dealing with manipulative people in everyday life. "Covert aggressive" is like passive aggressive in that it is subtle, but is different because it is very much active aggression. It's just completely underhanded - using lies, intimidation, and psychological abuse to force someone into submission. Simon talks about how covert-aggressive people behave like predators, bullies on the offense. Most people don't actively engage in conflict unless they are defending themselves, so it is hard for them to actually believe that there are some people who actively thrive off of starting conflict.
She was only 28 years old, only 3 years older than me, yet in a management position making at least double my salary. Everyone always wondered how she came into a leadership role in our department after only working there for 4 years. There were junior reps stuck in the same position for 3 years straight and this girl shows up out of nowhere and is suddenly having all the junior reps reporting to her. It’s unlikely that anyone will ever really know how she got to where she was at, but my experience with her has me believing that she must have done something “special” to get there.
Behind the superficial smile and flashy suit was a seriously disturbing character. She’s someone who fired a guy 3 years younger than her in the worst of economic times simply for the fun of it. In fact, there were 3 other people before me who basically resigned because they could no longer take her reputed office bullying. When she tried it on me, I could see what was happening. My gut instinct was telling me that my boss was out to get me, and she was. That’s when I found Simon’s book, In Sheep’s Clothing. The book didn’t save my paycheck, but it helped me accept the abuse until it all came to a very unsettling end.
The day I got fired was a very strange day. The day before, I had received a meeting request in Outlook from her titled “90 day plan.” I had been on an “Action Plan” for 3 months, which was supposed to be an “employee improvement plan” but was really just a 3 month notice and flag to commence the search for a different job. But there’s no jobs out there, you know that. I was on this plan and worked as hard as I could to show results. After all, if I did my job, nobody could fire me right? Wrong.
These 3 months were some of the worst of my life. My boss pulled out her most cunning tricks, and tried to exploit, embarrass, intimidate, discredit, and humiliate me in any way that she could. And keep in mind all of this is done with impeccable subtlety. A few comments behind my back had my coworkers start backing away from me out of nowhere, like I'm the black sheep of the office. It was like I had done something wrong that I didn't even know I did, but everyone could see. At the end of the 3 month period, I was still there. I hadn’t given up and quit. I rode it out to the very end. I was about to face something that most people stress at only the thought of happening.
The other guy on this meeting request was not the executive director, but instead was a guy who had been nothing but rude to me from the day I walked into that muck pond of a job. He had actually been promoted about a month before, so I knew that the reason that he was on the agenda was because he was a witness to my termination.
This dude was from Michigan. He had the late 20's fast food physique and a curly mop-top that he added gel to so that it could enhance that sheen of grease. He was a pig. One person said he looked like Chucky from Child’s Play in the face, and I agree, but he was always known to me as The Mop-Topped Roly Poly from Michigan. His gut was so big it made me wonder how he went to the bathroom standing up. Total chick magnet. Maybe that’s why this guy was such a jerk. And he was the definition of a jerk. He was of the same covert-aggressive breed as my boss, so the two were buddy-buddy. A slimy duo.
One time when I was washing my hands in the bathroom, he walks in and after I congratulated him on his promotion, he said, “So how are things for you…still plodding away?”
So like I said, he was the witness to my termination.
At 11:30 that morning, I walked in my boss' tiny, dark office. In her cold, breathless voice my boss says, "We decided that after these 90 days we don't have a position for you and will move forward with termination." She hands me my termination paper and tells me where to sign. I see that she had marked me ineligible for rehire at the company. This is a company that has like 100 different departments. It was clear. She wasn't just trying to get rid of me, she was trying to destroy me.
When she pulled the plug on me, I gave no reaction. In my hand was the Folder of Truth - the official stack of emails I had been gathering against her since day 1. I knew that in the near future, she would suffer a blow to her career that may be quite hard to deal with for a while. After all, an 8 page letter of appeal with a stack of incriminating documents that suggest she is a lying manipulative sociopath being mailed to HR Administration couldn’t possibly be a good thing for her, whatever the outcome is. Or at least that's what I thought at the time...
After I signed my termination paper, my boss followed me back to my desk with an empty brown box for my possessions. This was supposed to be her favorite part; to see me gather my possessions and dump them into her little box, completely humiliated. When we arrived at my desk I picked up my briefcase and stood in the cube space for a few moments. There were no pictures of my friends, my girlfriend, or my family. I wasn’t the type of guy who thought that my office was my second home. There was only a little desk calendar that never moved past November 14, 2007, and a mountain of post-it notes with random phone numbers on them.
But I saw one thing that was mine. My iPod headphones plugged into my desk computer.
I snatched the headphones and stuffed them into my pocket. I turned to her and said, “You can clean the rest.” She walked behind me to the front door, and even said my name in wishing me on my way. A cold and robotic farewell. I never turned to her and gave her a single word in response. There was no fight from me. She hoped for one, but she didn't get one. Beneath my calm exterior was an inferno of rage, with angry thoughts swirling through my head. As bad as I wanted to give her a piece of my mind, I knew that leaving her unsatisfied by showing no emotional reaction was by far the best revenge.
As I walked out of the building I took a deep breath and looked out at the world in front of me. I was stepping into tomorrow. From that point forward it's been me against the world, and I'm going to win.
|By Daniel Robin (Admin) on Monday, November 23, 2009 - 10:40 am: Edit|
Please do keep us posted as your situation evolves. I can see from your blog that you are on an excellent path. We'd like to know what you are discovering about yourself and the work world.
Best to you,
|By randy vaughan (Randyvaughan) on Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 11:18 am: Edit|
No, you're not going to "win," not in a war against corporatist mentality, attitudes, disposition, and tactics. Okay, one qualification: You "can" win if you're willing--for lack of a better way to say the thing--to sell your soul to the devil in return for more job security and a bigger bank account. You have character, integrity, an innate and intuitive sense that hard work still matters, results are more important than relationships. In short, you're not playing by "their" rules and yes, they will eat you alive. They don't give a damn about you except to the degree that you grovel and spend your time validating their already overly-inflated egoes and sense of self-worth.
I've nearly sixty employers in my past. You've described just about each one because at the end of the day, they're all pretty much the same.
So at this point in my life, I'm left struggling to solve just one riddle: Where in the Faustian contract does it state that one who sells his soul must also relinquish his humanity?
Nothing but the best...
|By jonathan trott (Jonathantrott) on Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - 8:16 am: Edit|
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