Bullying is just as common in the workplace as the play ground. But adults should be able to deal with cowardly little bullies who stalk the most vulnerable members of staff, as easily as swatting a pesky little fly. Adults are grown ups, sensible, fully aware of their rights. Just a click away from help and expert advice. So why would anybody subject themselves to daily mental torture, when help is so readily available?
There’s no simple answer why any intelligent individual would be unable to take action against their oppressor. I know this because, after I experienced bullying in the workplace first hand, for months, I still can’t understand why I didn’t act sooner.
Previous and subsequent employers confirm that I am not ‘the colleague from hell’. My previous assistant manager is now one of my best friends. I can’t claim to have been a model employee; which I may add, became increasingly difficult as my confidence diminished to zero. But my ability to do the job was never in question, it was personal.
Had I of listened to the managers warning during the interview that ‘it might take me a while to fit in’, I wouldn’t have found myself in that situation. I should have run for the hills but at that point I had no concept of what was to come. I assumed if I was warm and charming I would win favour. Even after the iconic Erin Brockovich ‘guess I’m not the right kind’ of girl scene played out in real life, leaving me to explain why I wasn’t at lunch with the girls to a confused male colleague, I still thought I could win them round. I suspect I stubbornly believed I would be failing if I just left. Why I thought this when the pack mentality was clearly in play remains a mystery.
In a recent conversation via Twitter (the inspiration behind this post), I was surprised to hear some of the reasons that people stayed in jobs they obviously hated. Discounting common reasons like not being able to pay the rent or a crippling lack of confidence, the most intriguing reason I found was a lack of direction and not wanting to have a CV full of random jobs because it would look bad to future employers.
I can’t help but look back and think about the over whelming sense of responsibility I felt to stay in a job I hated, which now seems ludicrous. At the time, the reasons I stayed seemed valid but later proved to be utterly irrelevant. I ended up quitting months later anyway, with no job to go to. By the time I cleared my desk I had already scored a new job, which I loved. I would urge anyone unhappy in their job to be brave and make the move as soon as possible- life’s so short.