Bullying - is it always right to assert yourself?

(16 Posts)
mydaytocleanthefridge Tue 12-Mar-13 18:51:34

Hi, just been reading the self-help recommendations for bullying, a really good thread, hope ok to resurrect.

I'm really confused about the best way to approach being being in work.

I've been bullied on and off in various jobs - obviously a different situation/degree of severity each time - but I don't want to be a victim anymore.

In the past I have:
1. Tried to ignore it - if that had worked, I wouldn't be posting here now
2. Left jobs I have loved - works in the short term, but stores up anger for later
3. Tried to assert myself with the 'when you do X, I feel Y' - no offence to any coaches out there, but this has not worked for me - I think people very rarely react well to this. I ended up regretting standing up for myself

In a team meeting earlier this week when we exchange news, the manager asked, 'So, Little Fridge, what have you been up to?'

I felt about 6.

I don't feel this is a 'bullying' situation exactly. But it was damn patronising. And I don't know whether to do 1, 2 or 3.

I am really struggling with this, to the extent I'm finding it hard to stay at work. Can anyone help me take better care of myself?

raspberryroop Tue 12-Mar-13 20:05:18

If you are consistently being bullies even after changing jobs in the plural I would be looking for a reason or if you are a bit over sensitive? Not sure in what way you find what the manager said patronising or designed to make you feel 6 ?

mydaytocleanthefridge Tue 12-Mar-13 20:34:13

I think yes I do need to look for a reason - it's difficult to tell.

The bit that made me feel patronised was that she said 'Little Anne' (for example), rather than just 'Anne'.

Does this make sense? I'm not saying this is another bullying situation. I'm just saying, there's something I'm doing/saying which makes me vulnerable.

How would you feel, if someone said, 'So what have you been doing this week, little raspberry'?

raspberryroop Wed 13-Mar-13 07:52:59

Arhh didn't get he actually used 'little' !- are you petite /young looking? How you dress can make a huge difference to that along with some self confidant body language.

raspberryroop Wed 13-Mar-13 07:54:39

I would be chuffed with little as am a heifer and have too much gravitas/presence for what I now do and actually have to tone down my intimidation meter ;P

mydaytocleanthefridge Wed 13-Mar-13 18:14:20

I am definitely not young looking. I'm guess I'm fairly petite. But I want gravitas and presence - it's not nice to be seen as little and fragile when you want to be taken seriously.
Does that make sense?
Maybe I should move this to 'relationships', a bit daft to post here?

raspberryroop Wed 13-Mar-13 20:06:57

You need to look at you tube for some fab videos on presentation skills etc

No, myday, its better to leave it here, I did the same with my bullying posts because its a workplace situation, and got a lot of support. Don't give up.

I've been examining my behaviour and feel that, maybe, there is something 'there' that bullies can pick up on with me.

When you say coaches, do you mean you have read assertiveness books, or been to classes?

If its books, which ones have you read? I sympathise, by the way thanks wine

mydaytocleanthefridge Thu 14-Mar-13 13:16:22

Thanks for youtube rec, raspberry

Crushed, I'm glad you know what I mean (though I'm sorry to hear you're going through it, too). I've got to the stage that I don't care too much what job I do, it's this recurring situation that makes work so difficult for me and that I have to deal with.
So far the best book I've read is something called Bulletproof. It takes a different angle from most books I've read so far, because it is realistic - it says that bad politics happen everywhere, and what we need to do is to change our reaction to it, rather than get upset that it's happening.

I went on a few assertiveness courses but again, I found them a bit superficial.

Crushed what have you tried so far?

hi myday, I'm currently reading how to be assertive in all situations, its ok, about changing the way you look at situations and saying exactly what you mean rather than going round the houses to get to the point. Apparently, I'm passive to passive aggressivesad I've yet to do the exercises.

Do you find bulletproof helpful?
I've heard bully in sight by Tim Field is good too.

sorry, myday, it would help if I read posts more closely, d'oh, doesn't help after 3 glasses of wine.

I realise you said Bulletproof is the best one you've read up to now. Might have a look at that. The one I'm reading is the first one I've bought.
Hope you're ok smile

Loislane78 Fri 15-Mar-13 10:41:05

fridge are you happy to share other examples?

When not on mat leave I manage a large team and have an interest in personal development coaching (done lots of courses).

missingmumxox Sat 16-Mar-13 04:30:29

I agree with the person who said look at yourself, sort of, as in you could be a little sensitive but that doesn't mean you have to put up with shit.
Little whatever is patronising...my admin has just complained to me about a new nurse who is only a few years older than me and my admin, she calls my admin (PS she is my report not my personal slave just easier for posting to say my admin) young lady !!!!! she is 42 FFS! as am I,
she only told me today so I will pull the nurse up on this next week in a nice way as in I heard you call A young lady, don't know about you but A is our age, and the clients might think they can call her young A. I will escalate if needed.
funnily enough me and my admin (there is a song in that somewhere smile ) often call each other Mrs Missing and Mrs Admin, as after 2 years we are comfortable with each other and it is a joke.
in the job I have now I have male counterpart who tries to undermine me at every oportunity, I came from the NHS which is mostly female so I was completely unprepared for such a backstabber, I shit you not, he the first time I met him told me he was angling for our departments to merge, in front of all his staff, and how OH normally came under Health and Safety, I remained calm and said yes I understands in some companies it does, and I wondered which of us would get the managers role? he laughed and said could you work for me and I said well I wouldn't need to as I already have my nursing, OH degree and NEBOSH, when are you doing your nursing and OH degree, and laughed, apparently he had been fighting for 6 years for OH to come in under his wing, he dropped it right after I started, he called me Hen in meetings, I asked him to stop privately he spread this about the organisation, which resulted in me getting lots of pats on the back from other work members, he still calls me say Sarah when my name is Susan.
he tries to start petty arguements verbally I only respond in email and he will always reply coping in the world and their dog, which makes him look more of a tit, his line manager is a the end of his tether because even when I don't feel like compromising cos he is an arse I will if it doesn't compromise my work iyswim.
He come across as a tit to all because I don't rise to him, I work in a almost male enviroment, I believe there are 230 women to almost 2000 men, appart from him almost all the men are normal and treat me with respect, they will agrue I have no problem with that but they don't go behind my back or bitch as far as I am aware
chin up, tough up, be professional but be humious ;0 GOOD LUCK SOUND HORIBLE.

mydaytocleanthefridge Sat 16-Mar-13 14:03:03

Thanks everyone. A lot of us are going through this, then! It's not good. I really empathise.

Lois, I could give you loads of examples. It's difficult to bring them up as even the mention of them makes me feel a bit 'icky'. I'll try:
The same manager (the one who called me 'little') taking credit for ideas of mine - and like an idiot, I just smiled and said 'great idea'

In a previous job, a manager I had a difficult relationship with, coming in ten minutes before I was due to deliver what she knew would be a tough presentation - and 2 hour - and saying 'Oh yes, I saw someone else deliver this in a few minutes, they did it really well' - then swanning out again

Same manager, when a close relative died, snapping 'When you get to my age, you have to go to a lot of funerals and I think you should take this as annual leave' (If that had been the company policy, that would have been fine - it's the way she said it)

This is making me feel pretty rotten - does this give you a good enough idea?
The problem is, what, if anything, do I say? E.g. about the 'little' comment - if I go back on Monday and ask for a quiet word - won't I be labelled as a trouble-maker?

I'm starting to dread work and feel very down about all this. Any help would be really appreciated.

Loislane78 Mon 18-Mar-13 20:17:13

I'm sorry you're feeling so down about work sad

You need to find a comfortable way to assert yourself and would perhaps like people's perception of you to change?

Why do you feel that raising any issues will label you a 'trouble-maker' - is that what you've seen/experienced before?

I'm guessing you find (what you perceive to be confrontation) v difficult. Have you ever addressed things like this in the workplace and if so, had a positive outcome?

I personally wouldn't go down the 'you said x and it made me feel y' route because it brings things to an emotional level iyswim which for you might not be the right way. Eg. inconsiderate manager about your presentation:

Ask in next 1:1 (or sooner) if she has any feedback for you on presentation. Use this as an opportunity to say you were a little apprehensive but were pleased with how it went (even if they didn't see it). It would have been great if we could have run through it beforehand with your tips of what made the other person's so good so I'd like to do that next time.

Vs

When you spoke to me before the presentation I was a bit apprehensive. I was annoyed/upset about your comments on having seen how great someone else' presentation was just before mine.

Whilst both true, the second one is likely to irk your manager if they are inconsiderate and don't take feedback well.

Re. time off and making it about them. Well that sounds upsetting. (Acknowledge what they've said). I'd like to book the day as compassionate leave as I think that's covered in the company handbook. Thanks for your understanding. (Bring it back on point and state what you want). End of conversation. Don't get a tone or anything, just keep it factual, short and to the point and get what you need. Unfortunately that might not be compassion sad

Re. 'Little' comments.' If you don't want to pull the person aside but they do it again in front of others, I'd jokingly say 'not sure I like this little business' or 'little?' Bit passive aggressive but addresses it directly without completely belittling the manager in front of everyone (right of wrong they won't thank you for that).

So tough - hope you find a way. Just need a couple of good outcomes under your belt and you'll be away smile

mydaytocleanthefridge Thu 21-Mar-13 08:04:40

Lois - sorry for late reply, only just found your message. Thank you for this, I really appreciate your comments.

I agree with your point that 'when you did X, I felt Y' as being too emotional - assertiveness books often recommend this, but I think for the reasons you cite, it can really backfire.

Can I ask, if you are still around, where did you get these ideas from? Are you just very wise/experienced? Are there books you would rec?

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