Friday, January 22, 2010

Cranky Cathy and her Workplace Abuse

Another week and another blog. This time I am focusing upon the constant crank in the workplace. You know, the one that complains about everyone and everything? Nobody can do anything better than her? She zeroes in on every little move made by someone in the office? This is not just having a bad day but a way of life with Cranky Cathy. It never stops and someone is always in her cross fire. Well, except for her little “buddies” that she befriends and enlists in her chronic drama. Sometimes, people just ignore or avoid her and only communicate with them if need be. Or, others may clamor to be a part of her “posse” and will do what they can to be a part of the inner circle. They may do nice things like bring her cookies or let her borrow something in hopes of never becoming their target at work. Oh, they are aware that these Cranky Cathy behaves like a child but everyone seems to be drawn to her out of fear. There is that charisma she projects that draws these people in despite her nasty behavior. Sometimes, her games and foolishness becomes to much and targets or bystanders erupt or verbally attack her. Whala! Cranky Cathy now has another reason to target someone. The cycle continues as people are hired, fired or leave the job and new people come to the office. Cranky Cathy can always find potential recruits and new targets. What is really sad is that over half the time, Cathy is not even the boss but an office contemporary. The boss is generally being charmed by Cathy. Trust me, she knows how to work an office as she probably worked the playground at school.

This cycle is a very unhealthy one and exists in most workplace environments today. It is not productive and companies loose money because of this. Who can go to work and focus on their job with people around them bothering and harassing them? Cranky Cathy never lets up and is always mad about something and she has her targets and allies in place. Why do people enable her behavior? One reason is out of fear for becoming her target themselves. They see others flocking to her out of their own fear and get caught up in her garbage. Oh, everyone knows her behavior is wrong and tiring yet nobody is interested in doing anything about it so they keep up with their dysfunction allowing Cathy to dictate the social setting at work.

Folks, its important to stand up to Cranky Cathy. From the get go, let her know that you have no interest in what Joe said to Sally and how Sally screwed up a tally sheet or did not perform to Cathy’s standards. Also, you cannot sit around and gossip with her but keep your focus on the work at hand. Do not try to befriend her or spend any amount of time with you. Yes, it is scary to stand up to Cranky Cathy but let people know from the beginning that you have no time for office politics. Chances are, these colleagues hold the same opinion but have been afraid to speak up. It may take that one voice to open up and stand up to her. Eventually, she will wear people down with her antics and they will move away from her. She will loose her charm as bit by bit as she runs people off with her behavior. A bully standing alone cannot create so much drama as their power is taken away. Do not do anything that can cause her to gain power and use it to abuse everyone. If you must communicate with her, do so in a calm and professional manner. Most importantly, know that she is the one at fault and the one with the problem. She is good at twisting events to her favor and will try and make you feel like the unstable and nutty one at work. Remain calm at all times. If you must get emotional, please do so in the privacy of a bathroom or go out to the car for something. Do not let Cranky Cathy see your pain. She thrives on pain and drama and will only use this to create more at work.

Again, we all have bad days. Things do not always go right, we may not have made a deadline or just cannot seem to do anything right on those particular days. Its normal and a part of life. However, it becomes an issue when it is chronic and daily by one particular person. Know that their behavior is wrong and not the other way around. Do what you can to keep the environment a good and healthy one. There is enough stress in this world so why add to it? Certainly something to think about.

Elizabeth Bennett is the Social Justice Guru seeking social justice for all. She is also the author of “Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From a Psychological Perspective” along with the e-book “Child Safety Online: Top Tips to Protect your Child from Internet Predators.” Please visit Peer Abuse Know More! To learn more.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bystanders are Crucial

This world is one that grows more and more vicious everyday. The term dog eat dog is probably considered a form of good behavior now. Everyday we watch and listen to someone somewhere sabotage someone else. For the most part, we walk on by and ignore it or we participate and not in the right way.

Bystanders are probably the most crucial group in the bully, bullied and bystander family. One such group is the Olweus program which originated out of Norway. In 2003, it became a federal program in the US and one that is beneficial in educating the bystander and how to deal with the bully and bullied. In a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Perry Klass discusses how pediatricians are becoming more aware and educated on the realities of this problem. Also, he discussed Olweus and the importance of the bystander. He stated that the bystander could change the whole scenario by speaking up and speaking out. Instead of enabling this problem, they try to help the victim as Olweus instructs schools to do.

All 3 parties really could use the help, not just the bystander. If bystanders do their part, it can certainly shake things up and change the social dynamic. Also, it can make others better aware of who the actual bully is. But what about the bully and the bullied? The bully is the one who really needs the help. I say this because it is the bully who brings the aggression to the situation. For someone to instigate these problems, they are being hurt or are in some danger themselves as this is a learned behavior. They need to be investigated and if legal action needs to be taken then take it. Bullies also could benefit from therapy and the earlier the better. Yes, the bullied needs help after the bully has left an impact on them. Bystanders could use help and to be taught that following the bully makes things worse for everyone. The bottom line is education and becoming aware of this problem itself before trying to solve it.

Bystanders, please speak up! If you see any abuse occurring either at school or work, speak up! Do not participate in any of it. Help put a stop to the problem so it does not grow into something bigger. One day a bully can be your friend. However, the next day he can turn on you and you could be the bullied instead of the bystander. Its something to really think about.

Elizabeth Bennett is the Social Justice Guru seeking social justice for all. She is also the author of “Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From a Psychological Perspective” along with the e-book “Child Safety Online: Top Tips to Protect your Child from Internet Predators.” Please visit Peer Abuse Know More! To learn more.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Looks are not everything ya know!

Well, I come back from the holidays and what do I find? A link that someone in the Anti-bullying Community has shared on Twitter and was disgusted by what it contained. I took a glance myself and wanted to be ill. What kind of society do we live in where people sink to this particular level? What is more disgusting is that this site has gone global!

There is a dating site online that only accepts people who are beautiful or the powers that be feel are physically beautiful. This site has a strict ban on ugly people and has axed over 5,000 members because they gained weight over the holiday season. It is elite based and feel that those who do not meet the criteria are a threat to the site. Members must be voted in by current members and if they become unattractive or what is considered unattractive by other members then they are removed from their “club”. The company admits to being elitist, that they are not politically correct and want to be “honest” and that the members back this up completely.

Folks, this is without a doubt a form of bullying and relational aggression. People are accepted based on looks and they are excluded if they do not meet the criteria. Forget politically correct, what about having good manners and genuine care for another human being? By setting this criteria and not allowing others to join them, they show nothing but shallow behavior and no concern for others in my opinion. It also sends a message that in order to be accepted that one MUST look a certain way. I am all for taking care of ones appearance, however, this site is not about doing so. Its about shallowness and exclusion if you ask me. It “drops” members as a result. What ever happened to values? Love for fellow man? Have we as a society gone so low as to behave in this manner?

Please, love people for who they are and not what they look like. Beauty comes in many different forms and not all of them are physical. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but exists on the inside of a person just as much as the outside. Something to think about here.

Elizabeth Bennett is the Social Justice Guru seeking social justice for all. She is also the author of “Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From a Psychological Perspective” along with the e-book “Child Safety Online: Top Tips to Protect your Child from Internet Predators.” Please visit Peer Abuse Know More! To learn more.