https://www.bonnielowkramen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/WorkplaceBullyingCover.png 720 1440 Bonnie Low-Kramen /wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bonnie-low-logo.png Bonnie Low-Kramen2020-08-17 23:57:502022-01-25 13:56:29This Far and No Further: What to Do About Virtual Workplace Bullying
By Bonnie Low-Kramen | August 18, 2020
Enough is enough, isn’t it? Today’s virtual workplace demands are pressured enough without additional angst caused by managers and staffers acting out their stress in the form of yelling, public humiliation, sexual harassment over Zoom, and nastygram emails.
This is about respect. And it is about disrespect. Workplace bullying simply cannot exist is a climate of respect. It only thrives in the poisonous air of a disrespectful culture.
In the pre-pandemic world, workplace bullying was a global epidemic. It still is. It just looks a little different now, but it’s bullying nonetheless.
True examples –
- “Linda, you really should wear your hair down like you used to. And you should smile more. Looks like you have gained a little weight working at home.” Said to an assistant by a manager on Zoom
- “What makes you think we want your opinions? I don’t pay you to think. Just do what I tell you to do from now on.” Email from a manager to a staffer
- “Some leaders think you meddle too much in their work.” Written in a performance review. When asked for a specific example of “meddling,” the manager would not give one.
- An assistant made the mistake of not putting herself on “mute” on a conference call and was overheard complaining about a client. Fortunately, the client found it funny and of course, the assistant apologized. The assistant’s manager called a meeting later in the day and angrily called it a “moronic mistake that better not happen again.”
What we know is that stress and anxiety can bring out the worst in humans. However, the data shows that the most effective way to retain staff is to treat them with respect and dignity. The opposite is 100% true.
None of us thought that what started in March would still be so formidable in August, but here we are. Stress and worry abound about money and paying mortgage, rent, and medical bills, evictions, and businesses being in serious danger of closing. We have our kids trying to get an education, not to mention people getting sick every day. And it looks like this is our reality for a while, right?
This situation is still no excuse for disrespectful, passive/aggressive, and bad behaviors because everyone is under stress. We have no idea what some people are wrestling with every day. No one is exempt. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a reset.
So, what is a target to do? Silence is not the answer. Having a manager or a peer who talks down to you can create a miserable workplace and relationship, even if they are virtual. As an employee, you have options for dealing with such a situation, ranging from finding coping techniques to deal with the behaviors, confronting the bully directly, or documenting offensive behavior and taking your case to HR or your executive themselves.
The bottom line is that these issues can preoccupy us and stop us dead in our tracks in a paralysis of sorts. Bullying causes physical and emotional stress and creates an extremely toxic work environment. Let’s take a look at why we get caught in the workplace bullying cycle and examine some ways to break the cycle.
- Workplace Bullying causes Fear which causes Silence. The silence is hurting us badly.
Why we stay silent
- Fear of losing job
- Fear of making the situation worse
- Fear of making waves
- Fear of stepping on toes
- Fear of being viewed as a troublemaker
- Lack of awareness and justifying bad behavior:
Too often we find ways to excuse others bad behaviors by:
- Avoiding confrontation
- Believing the bully is just having a bad day
- Being stuck in the belief that it is going to stop
- Not believing we are worthy of respectful treatment
3. Reality Check
The data is clear. The way to motivate people to work hard, be loyal, and to go above and beyond is to treat them with dignity and respect, especially when times are tough. The fastest way to chase good people away is to disrespect them with humiliation, verbal abuse, and demeaning actions.
- The words to say – Whether you feel ready to speak the following words, they are here for you to practice and get you ready.
- I’m sure it was not your intention to be offensive, but what just happened in that meeting is not productive or helpful. You cannot speak to me like that. We need a better way to communicate.
- I don’t know what I’ve done that gave you the impression that those comments about my body would be welcome. You need to know they are most definitely not welcome. That can’t happen again.
- I would like to set up a time to revisit my performance review in order to get clarity on how we can move forward in a better way.
Need more information? You’ve got it. Get educated on the realities of workplace bullying. Here is a link to a free course called “Workplace Bullying: How to Identify, Address, & Overcome a Toxic Working Environment” that will guide you further. The material has an opening video message from me.
It really is time to end workplace bullying because the price we are paying is far too high. We take a deep dive into this subject at Be the Ultimate Assistant training, both On Demand and Virtual. Check it out.
Be the Ultimate Assistant On Demand Course www.learn.bonnielowkramen.com
Be the Ultimate Assistant Virtual | Sept 17-18 Pacific Time
I am Bonnie Low-Kramen, TEDx speaker, author of “Be the Ultimate Assistant” and trainer of Executive Assistants all over the world. In May, 2019, I was featured in a Forbes online cover story. As part of the research for my second book about the workplace to be published in 2022, I have had over 1,000 conversations with assistants, leaders, HR professionals, recruiters, and business school professors. I have worked in 14 countries and 38 states and would love to work with you towards building your ultimate workplace. Click here to set up a time to speak with me about your training needs which can be delivered virtually or in person.