Friday, January 30, 2009

Are Workplace Bullies from Mars? They Can't Be from Venus.

It must be true that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Last week I talked about the destructive power of bullies in the workplace at two association meetings on consecutive days. The first group was 80 percent men; the second was 100 percent women. I had seen the same reactions at other presentations on this topic, but coming on consecutive days, the differences were blatant.

Of the first group, a few men commented during the question-and-answer period, but not on their personal experiences, and only one woman participated. However, later as they were leaving, the women stopped to talk with me. They did not want to talk about having been targets of bullies while the men were present, but preferred to wait until we could speak one on one.

At the second meeting, which was all women, there was very little hesitation about speaking up. Approximately 75 percent of the women indicated workplace bullies have targeted them. This is terrible but not surprising when we remember that the vast majority of male bullies and half of female bullies target women.

In Roman mythology, Mars is the God of War and Venus is the Goddess of Love. In workplaces and in the world, war seems to rule and there is too little love. What do you do to bring a little more love and consideration into your workplace? Let me know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Friends and Allies: Antidotes to Bullying

A wonderful woman told me a success story this week.

A few years ago, when she still worked in corporate America, a friend and colleague in her workplace was targeted by an especially large and self-important man. As the bullying continued, the target’s friends and allies began to rally around her and looked for ways to stop the bully. For almost a year, working their way up the hierarchical ladder level by level, they presented the situation to superiors but couldn’t get responses. Eventually, they learned the tightest bottleneck was two levels below the CEO and was also his cousin.

Because the cousin intercepted all their messages and attempts, they decided they would try to reach the CEO directly, but with no success, until one day when the CEO personally answered his phone. He actually took time to listen to the caller’s story and agreed to investigate. The happy result was that the bully, the cousin, and two of their buddies were fired.

Research indicates that in 83 percent of cases, the target is driven out and the bully remains. This woman’s story of success is rare in the world of workplace bullying, and it shows what ongoing support of friends and allies can do.