Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Haters gonna Hate!

I'm sure everyone has heard of Taylor Swift's huge hit song "Shake it off". I absolutely love this song because I truly believe in it's message as it reminds me of some incidents I have encountered in my life and what people have to do to "shake it off". However sometimes when you can't  just "Shake it off" there has to be intervention if things get beyond a certain point and this story shows how "Haters" some times have to be dealt with.

Work place bullying is present in a lot of places and many people have to put up being bullied in their daily lives. Many people are taunted, teased, harassed, and called names and can be a bit irritating but perhaps not enough to report the incidents as abuse. I read that almost half of workers in the US say they encounter some form of bullying in their jobs but it is not reported or dealt with.Bullying can lead to people feeling stressed, insecure and intimidated. There are many ways to deal with it ad the first is to  try to resolve it privately but when that doesn't work the employer or  senior management has a huge responsibility to do some thing about it so it doesn't get out of hand.

A few years ago I was working at an office in Michigan and I encountered what jealousy and hatred can do to people and how it can ruin people if you allow it to get out of hand. The environment I worked in was one where the whole room, and actually the whole organization, was full of women doing clerical and administrative work for a large public company. A number of the workers  had been together in the same jobs in this department for many years and without realizing they felt a "right" to these jobs and resented anyone who was new in their "space". So I was new and a couple of other women were transferred from other parts of the company. The management of the company had no idea but our lives were going to be made hellish because of their decisions and the employees who had been there previously.

One of my colleagues was a very innocent right winged Republican, Christian lady around the same age as me. She believed what she believed and was incredulous when anyone came up with new ideas or thought differently from her. She was a devout church goer and believed that everything she was told by her pastor in his sermons every Sunday. Her lack of experience led her to believe that everyone who had a different faith just had to be converted to her religion, then they would be just fine but other than that she was a complete sweetheart!

However she was kind, a loving person and a dear sweet friend and we enjoyed one another's company but sometimes she was so off track I couldn't believe it. I was talking to a young intern one day about Dan Brown's best seller The Da Vinci Code and she came in and said to the intern "Don't read that book!It's about Satanism!" I said "Well if it is, it's up to him if he wants to read it and then he can decide for himself as he's an intelligent young man." When I said I was doing yoga at the gym her reply was I will never do yoga and when asked why she said it was like praying! Yoga has caught o like wild fire in the USA and there's a yoga studio in every town and main street in America now so a lot of people in the USA must be praying!

It was my friend's innocence and sincere belief in her own convictions that lead to witnessing one of most bizarre incidences of pure hatred and bullying in my life! So my friend would be innocently giving everyone her talk about God and Christianity and this lead to some pretty interesting behavior from some of the co workers, especially three friends who all worked together. These three truly believed that they ran and owned the whole department. They would pick on little things my friend said and did over the course of a few years and bully her about it. Petty things about the smell of her coffee, the way she did her work, what she ate for lunch, her tardiness, her family life were all targets for ridicule. Everyday there were nasty, snide comments and criticism about every action and every deed.

 It stemmed in particular from 3 good friends who had worked in the department and had been in the same jobs for about 10 years. One was the supervisor for the whole department and the other two were her best buddies who also joined in the fun against their co worker. One of these women, (call her Trixy) was particularly rude, bitter and thoughtless in her actions. She openly bullied everyone and different people had to go through periods of being bullied by her but she especially picked on my friend.

This behavior was never reprimanded by our Supervisor (call her Wilma). The third person (call her Casey) couldn't decide whether she wanted to be mean or nice and fluctuated between the two. Occasionally they would try to get other people in the office in on the action and try to get them to bully their co worker in a pack but a lot of people didn't want to get involved or condone the behavior of the bullies no matter how silly they thought my friend's beliefs were so they just got on with their work.

Gradually the behavior went all the way to the attention of management who noticed little comments and complaints made by the Gang of bullies. It was even being spread through malicious gossiping that my friend was having and affair with another male co worker and both were hauled upstairs to a high up management in the administrative department. Both my friend and the other worker were married. My friend was now feeling the full effects of the bullying and told me she felt suicidal! My heart just bled for her.

 The managers decided to do something about it when my friend started to be bullied relentlessly and some comments started being floated around the whole office very carelessly. Bullying and harassment are not to be taken lightly in the work place. If a worker is bullied and harassed and they file a complaint or sue the company then lots of people can be held accountable so the management of this firm decided to nip the behavior in the bud and put a stop to it. Thank Goodness the managers decided to do this.

There was an enquiry and investigation in to the bullying allegations. Everyone in the department had to be interviewed one by one and everything about the interviews was kept confidential.Even I had to give evidence of what I had seen and heard. No one talked about what was asked by the management and what was said to them individually. Even I was interviewed but luckily I was leaving my job to relocate to Germany so I didn't have to deal with the subsequent consequences.

The way the management dealt with Casey, Trixy and Wilma was to demote each of them and spread them apart throughout the office building away from each other. They were humiliated  but escaped being fired which I thought was really kind.  However my friend got an apology from them and I hope they are sorry to this day and not resentful towards her. I wonder if they realized the stupidity and pathetic behavior they were displaying! I also hope they learned their lesson that some one is watching and listening to bad behavior  and you are responsible for what you say that might hurt or harm others.

So just like Taylor Swift says the 'haters are gonna hate" but some times we have to just "shake it off" however if it gets out of hand and continues there has to be some other higher intervention! We owe it to ourselves as responsible adults to respect our fellow workers and mind our own businesses and get on with our work and our own lives! If you are the person being bullied then you need to stand up for yourself, go to your superior or your HR department and asked them to get involved. If nothing is done you can quit and file a claim with a lawyer if it is serious enough.No job is worth harming your mental health or peace of mind.

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