Bullied at work? Workplace bullying? Bad manager or coworkers? Multiple bullied by officialdom, clients etc. Recovery from the trauma, solutions and coping. Building resilience one step at a time together!
How this article came about.
I had a very interesting experience recently. I was party to a comment on social media on a popular program that noted that the women on it were wearing prominent hair extensions and were, at least in my opinion, barely contributing to the programmes format despite it being apparently alternative and feminist in its viewpoint.
Extensions, don’t mention.
I was surprised at the extensions and wondered why such outspoken, funny and attractive women should choose to have false hair too. I may be wrong, perhaps they wanted to wear acres of hot false hair. I cannot rule that out. Whether my view was correct is a matter of conjecture, but the interesting thing was that the comment was first deleted and then when repeated was blocked from following the main contributor on the programme. Perhaps the comment seemed rude but it is interesting that freedom to comment was curtailed when it addressed appearance.
I found it interesting that my commenting on the wearing of hair extensions was somehow extremely controversial.
Media objectification excused as fashion!
This got me to thinking about media objectification of women.
I am not talking about the sort of hair extensions and wigs worn by black and other women as a fashion statement or even a political statement or for reasons of ill health.
The issue of being black and hair is a big issue and one I cannot cover here, save to say that India Ari’s song about Hair says it all. Perhaps I will cover it sometime. The issue of the individual hairstyles and hair of black women and how that is regarded in the workplace is a whole article on its own.
No, I am talking about hidden hair, hair that is supposed to look real. Hair that is discreetly added in shampoo commercials, photoshoots and which is not even a fashion statement but is added by wardrobe to make the female concerned look more desirable, with luscious fake locks added to make a fuller head of enviable hair.
The politics of envy and why envy is politically necessary!
I had often wondered why I envied the hair of women in movies until I realised that practically all of them have added hair. Hair that is supposed to be seen as real and designed to be the envy of ordinary mortals who simply cannot get their hair to look like that. Well the secret is out, most of the hair is fake. Check the underside of female hair in the movies and you will see long locks over the shoulder that it would be impossible for practically any mortal to grow naturally.
See how many you can spot you will be shocked!
Take a week out and start spotting fake locks designed to look real and you will find them everywhere from mainstream tv, commercials and film and media.
Of course, objectifying women has had to become more subtle as discerning viewers begin to recognise it. So huge boobs, plunging necklines and layers of slap have gradually been replaced by more subtle and sinister forms of objectification.
Unnecassary hair for no reason than improvement
Air brushing, CGI and visual effects are used to add or subtract inches from women’s bodies in magazines and movies, and finally the enormous carbon footprint of fake hair masquerading as real. I am not talking wigs to create a particular character, it is unnecessary hair, of no value save to ‘improve’ the wearer.
How is this relevant to bullying and the workplace.
So how does this affect women in the workplace and what is the relationship to bullying? Well objectification, remodelling, repurposing and redesigning women in media is a form of bullying. Some may well wear fake hair because they like it, but I suspect many wear it because they are told to or feel they cannot make the grade if they do not compete in the looks department.
I cannot deny that male remodelling is also taking place but not on the scale or magnitude of female remodelling.
Women in the media are women are at work. The unhealthy obsession with female remodelling in media is offensive because it denies real women the opportunity to be truly real if they want to be. It is why women are paid less in film and media and why they have much less weight in the working world than men.
Pro-choice but also pro-voice
I am pro-choice, I have worn wigs for fun myself, but I knew I was doing it, it was open and not a guilty little beauty secret, like stuffing tissue down ones bra.
Many people will not agree with me, I was roundly insulted for having the temerity to challenge the growing requirement for intelligent wonderful working women to have a ‘certain’ look. A look that is compiled of much that is not real and much that pressures ordinary women to try to emulate the airbrushed, inch reduced, cgi’d versions in the media. I do not apologise for that opinion.
The pressure to be perfect is in itself the ultimate form of bullying. The need for an entire gender, particularly in western corporate society, to be something they are not is neither fair or enlightened.
I was watching the Unison advert on television. Unison is a very large union in the UK that supports the majority of NHS workers. It is an exceptionally good advert because it shows a single person walking with an army of support behind her from lawyers, to union representstives and so on. This reminded me that when you are suffering adult bullying at work it is an idea to keep this list handy so you also have a ready army of support.
here it is!
YOU – take control of your situation
UNION – think about getting in one. Consult your union in the early stages and not just your rep,phone their help lines in particular. You may have to confront the bully at some stage but should never do so without advice.
LAWYER – your car insurance and households contents insurance can offer legal protections. Check what they offer. Many household contents insurance offer at least £50,000 for work related issues, tortious actions such as personal injury and other actions.
GP or Medical advisor – ensure your GP is aware well in advance if you suspect that you are suffering the effects of bullying. Your GP should support you and keep detailed and accurate notes on your health. Make sure you clearly assist your GP to do this by checking what they have recorded and asking that they keep notes that may later be relied on by you.
COUNSELLOR – consider engaging a counsellor, privately, through your GP or if necessary through your workplace if they offer an independent well-being scheme. Do not under estimate the assualt on your mental health by a bully and do not wait for help until you are mentally drained.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY – Inform supportive friends and family of your situation you will be shocked how many will recognise your plight.
SPIRITUAL GUIDE – Consider consulting your priest or cleric or pursuing some sort of spiritual course such as meditation, yoga or relaxation techniques at this time. A good teacher will pay dividends
CREATIVE GUIDE -consider adding a creative outlet to your army of support. A class with a good teacher or even the internet or youtube can provide a great deal of information. Hobbies provide both social and creative output and put you in flow. This means you are giving your already busy mind a rest. Do not expect to be perfect.
EXERCISE TEACHER or TRAINER – this could be through a class or free courses at your local council or via a personal trainer but adding in some social exercise will keep you strong physically and also give you a social outlet
You may well not feel like exercise, being creative or being physical or social however even going along to something can lift mood so if you do not want to go, simply regard going as practice.
We have repeated many times on this site the necessity of enlisting support.
Bullies seek to alienate and isolate. Do not let them, secretly build your stash of backup.
This is a quick note. Looking after your mental health should be a life-long commitment. This means we must commit to it. Looking after our physical body is all the rage. The news is filled with glamour and diets yet little is said about our mental health.
Our outward appearance and ability to transform ourselves must go hand in hand with our mind being steadied, resilient and in the right place.
So go on. Commit to looking after your mental health. This could mean, counselling, coaching, seeking courses on mindfulness, yoga or meditation.
Commiting to creativity and flow, allowing ourselves to create and think in the freedom of our own space. This could be through a hobby such as writing, painting, poetry, indeed any art form.
Taking ourselves back to nature and the wonder of beautiful things is important, especially if we are somewhat sensitive to the world. Take yourself back to art, in gallaries, in the internet whereever. To music with a widened commitment to appreciate all music from all cultures, religions or races.
Set aside time deliberately, as you would the gym or sport and get your mind straighter.
Declutter, get rid of stuff, Feng Shui your life. Get rid of unneccessary or disorganised mess around you.
Grow something and commit to keeping it alive if possible.
To have your mind in place is an essential human right one often denied at work by micro-managers and corporate dictators.
They can take much but do not let them take your identity. Take back control of your life.
We are not experts and these are our ideas for unravelling the deep wounds of bullying at work. If you are finding it difficult to cope or need advice seek a professional. Namaste.
Tip of the week – Distraction and Creativity
Welcome. Before you read the tip, just be aware that there are lots of really good articles on this page for facing, dealing with and recovering from bullying. The reason I say this is that I do not want to appear flippant when I talk about todays tips, using creative pursuits as an outlet for distraction and flow away from pain.
One of the reasons we set up this site was in that hope that we could start a gallery of art and poetry by those who are suffering bullying. The idea is that creativity is a root to solace. That hasn’t quite come off yet and is a work in progress.
The purpose of the gallery was to invite survivors of bullying to diversify into a hobby even as the bullying is going on.
The reason for this is that distraction and flow are really important ways of calming the mind when something really difficult is going on. The advantages of taking up a creative pursuit whilst suffering are varied. The pursuit provides distraction yes, but it also allows one to improve skills and identify abilities that one may have forgotten or did not know one had.
The creative process and the building of these skills develops confidence. It also provides an area of control where there may be none. The benefit of controlling an area of ones life whilst other aspects are going to hell, stabilises the mind. The control provides some certainty in an otherwise unsure world. That certainty can improve happiness and wellbeing.
It is not important to be perfect at the pursuit, indeed if you were to send in your work, you would get nothing but praise. I intend to call the gallery the Praise Gallery and we don’t want anything except support here.
The whole point is not the outcome of the creative pursuit, but the feeling of enjoyment whilst carrying it out.
Where there was sadness a sprout of happiness may grow. Where there was consternation the seeds of confidence will grow.
So if you are currently being bullied or are finding recovery hard we would strongly suggest taking up a creative pursuit. It could be anything from cross-stitch to whittling. Painting to poetry. The only pre-requisite is that it is creative and requires that you create something no matter what it may be.
Disengaging as a professional strategy.
Recently I was told about a letter doing the rounds on the internet called the Disengagement letter for step-parents. Initially I thought it was a really strange idea for an anonymous step-mom to suggest deliberate disengagement from what was supposed to be a blended family. However, I have been toying with new ideas regarding how to deal with bullying by so I read it to see if it contained any ideas.
The general tenet surrounding the idea seems to be that where the bkended family is breaking down that it is the biological parent’s responsibility to parent their children and not that of the step-parent. the step-parent should but out and let them get on with it. The step-parent should not try to pin his/her values of parenting, rules and ideas on children not suited or brought up by him/her.
The idea did not advocate losing respect or being nasty, it just proposes the idea of stepping back and not being so hands on.
HOW THE BULLIED EMPLOYER CAC START TO DISENGAGE
This got me thinking about the bullied employee who may not be able to get out of their workplace just now or who is dealing with a toxic or difficult work environment.
I am not talking about the numb, emotionally drained employee who has disconnected and disengaged entirely from their workplace but who is in emotional turmoil. I am thinking of a more considered and deliberate disengagement.
DISENGAGEMENT HAS MORE THAN ONE MEANING
One is the action or process of withdrawing from involvement in an activity, situation, or group.
The second emotional detachment.
The third is objectivity, or neutral disengagement.
In my view the workplace employee can exhibit all three of these possible disengaged behaviours.
The first is withdrawing from involvement. This is the employee who does the bare minimum, goes home dot on leaving time and who has no invested interest in colleagues, the job or the nature of the work. This is subjective behaviour born of misery and desperation in an environment they feel they cannot escape
The second is emotional disengagement or detachment. This is the employee who has literally checked-out, has no morale, is disillusioned, numb and feels little or nothing whilst at work. This is in my view harmful to the employee who is actually turning their emotions inward and who may start to exhibit the emotional and physical signs of stress that can lead to burn-out and ill-health. This is a totally subjective reaction.
The third novel possibility, in my view, is professional as oppose to personal disengagement. In other words the objective employee. An objective employee takes the deliberate and developmental opportunity to apply themselves professionally to their work but without a significant degree of emotional input. They understand their role in their job and appreciate that with a difficult employer they may well be regarded as a human resource rather than a human being and in doing so recognises that they should not blame themselves for their work predicament.
HOW TO DISENGAGE PROFESSIONALLY
The professionally objective employee maintains their high standards in the face of dissent around them. They may have a difficult boss or a toxic and difficult workplace but in taking the objective and professionally disengaged path they separate themselves from the mayhem. In doing so it becomes possible to start to plan and tackle their predicament.
This may involves finding an outside outlet for their emotions, ie sport, coaching or counselling. They are able to start to make plans from a detached point of view. If they are being bullied this may involve getting professional advice or their GP or union. Such an employee may start monitoring and recording behaviours that may amount to bullying, whilst still conducting their job to the best of their ability.
WHEN EMOTIONS CAN LET US DOWN
Being emotionally invested in our jobs on the face of it seems to make sense as we spend so long there during the day, however your employer is unlikely to be emotionally invested in you unless they are extremely foresighted and modern.
Being too emotionally invested risks burnout, stress and absenteeism.
We risk succumbing to the worst aspects of bullying or workplace toxicity when we have invested emotional depth in our work. Our identity and belief system can be compromised and cause lasting damage. Maintaining who we are outside are workplace puts our job in perspective.
OBJECTIVITY CAN HELP PERSPECTIVE
The emotionally distant or deliberately objective professional may be enabled to use their resilience and strength to assess the work environment and make objective decisions regarding their employment.
Such objective decisions may involve staying, leaving, re-training, moving within the organisation and being absorbed by their work
Objectivity in the face of an irrational employer may also help in dealing with being disciplined, being challenged or working in situations of high stress and instability. In todays work enviroment the culture of blame has become very entrenched, Surviving such a culture means maintaining confidence in our ability and skill despite being scapegoated.
Objectivity and disengagement has, in my view, to be a choice. A choice to rise above the noise and assess the situation from a distance and work out your personal and private objectives.
WE SHOULD NOT BEAT OURSELVES FOR BEING EMOTIONAL
We should not beat ourselves up if we cannot be objective and become emotional. However, if we have it in our minds to have a dispassionate relationship with a dissatisfying employer we may be able to make rational decisions and screen out the white noise. Such resilience may help us to survive and subsequently escape the toxic workplace when there is strife and uncertainty surrounding us. To emotional a relationship with an unfeeling and frankly unemotional employer could lead to compromising our own health and well-being.
DISENGAGEMENT MUST BE A CONSCIOUS CHOICE
Objective disengagement may provide us with a tool to make decisions and remain professional thus maintaining our excellent work record and making us attractive to other prospective employers. It also helps us to maintain clarity about our importance as an employee despite a workplace failing to value that importance. Start to look after your mental health now.
This is not advise, just our ideas and in a bullying situation it is essential to seek professional advice.