Saturday, 19 September 2015

Strong People Can Be Bullied Too

No matter how tough you may seem, strong people get bullied too

Over the last few years there has been a lot more of a spotlight on the issue of bullying in schools. Time and time again you read tragic stories of kids whose lives have been made unbearable and often the consequences are terrible.
Its absolutely right that this issue is being flagged but as we all know you don't have to be a child to be bullied and as an adult you certainly don't have to be meek or mild mannered either.
Bullying doesn't just happen in schools

I experienced a terrible bully years ago when I worked in television. 
Now let the record show I wasn't a wet behind the ears work experience. I was a BBC trained director who had worked for tabloid terror Kelvin McKenzie (and lived to tell the tale) and amongst other things had produced a daily sports show where every shift came with a slice of testosterone as standard.
Sad to say the bully I encountered was another woman who was basically my opposite number when I started a new job for a small regional show. 
From the outset she made it clear she really didn't like me.Welcoming me to the team by arranging a meeting between the two of us where she told me she had been working in broadcast television for years and basically made it clear she was unimpressed by my appointment as she felt I was too young and she assumed arrogant.
What proceeded to happen I now know to be classic bullying tactics but at the time I was left totally bewildered by her increasingly aggressive behaviour.

My bully was a work colleague

Whilst being polite and amiable towards me in front of other colleagues she would seek me out privately wherever possible (and sadly my job meant I was required to have at least  a few meetings on my own with her every week) and proceed to go through written lists of where she thought I was failing in my job. She would gleefully tell me how inept others thought I was and would basically tear me a new one, all with a slightly psychotic smile on her face.
This wasn't in her job description and she had no authority over me. She was just horrible.
Another wonderful weekly meeting

 I wont bore you with the small petty slights that came to make up my working week but it was like death by a thousand paper cuts. This vile creature made my life an absolute misery and it was always on the sly, with no witnesses and my word against hers.
The saddest part of the whole encounter was the fact that when I ultimately complained about her to the companies HR department  I was told that it wasn't really credible that someone as confident and experienced as me could be so deeply affected by what they decided was a "personality clash"
When I started to suffer from insomnia, dreaded going in to work and realised that even trusted colleagues really didn't quite believe my version of events  I decided to leave.Ive always had a great survival instinct. i call it "knowing when to leave the party"
Luckily I was young and had an impressive CV so moved into a great position at another company. My career didn't miss a beat but my trust in human nature was somewhat battered by the experience.
This was 15 years ago and I like to think that were I in a similar position now the company stance would be different but who knows?
I'm self employed so realise I live in a cossetted world of my own making.What I know I would do is make a much bigger fuss. Sod pride or being worried about being seen as a trouble maker I should have banged the drum louder until someone listened because I hate to think who else she did it to.
The reason for this blog is simply to say, never assume strong people can't be bullied or if you are being targeted by a bully that you are week.Social media can be rife with bullying but so too can the workplace, the school gates, even family dynamics can breed behaviour which basically suppresses another.
I will leave it to Barack Obama to sum up.

“Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness. No one deserves to be bullied.”


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