Dealing to the office bully
Posted on 09 April 2014
"Where’s this kiwi sheep botherer I've heard some idiot's gone and hired?" were the first words I heard him say.
Not knowing who was criticising my national pastime, I quickly retaliated "well it beats being a sister shagging Irishman".
I instantly felt the energy in my pod change, glancing quickly at my colleagues I saw horror and fear in their eyes.
Oh no! I realised in a flash, this must be the boss I'd heard everyone mention in hushed tones. Of course, the rude Irishman was going to be the widely feared Patrick. You idiot. You'll be fired on the spot. These and other terminal thoughts dashed through my mind.
In concurrence, I looked at Patrick and he was stunned. Mouth agape stunned. He was literally lost for words. The ones he did come up with stunned me: "Well I can see you've settled in here boy, I'll leave you to it".
When he walked away, people came up to me and shook my hand, patted me on the back and high fived me. Over the next few days’ word spread like wildfire about what had happened. People I didn’t know were approaching me, the security guy, managers from other departments; seemingly everyone wanted to meet the giant slayer.
Without knowing, I'd publicly stood up to the biggest bully in that part of the organisation (c1500 people). For a short time, I actually became a hero, but I'd done nothing to deserve these accolades. So for me it was like being in the twilight zone.
This tiny episode (in a career that spanned a heady 20 months at that point) left an indelible mark on me. The really obvious lesson is about standing up to bullies. Take the fight to the person hard, early and do it first. Do it once and they won't be tempted to step up in future, ever.
In addition, the bullies bark is nearly always worse than his bite. They're ordinarily insecure and unintelligent people who will be confused by your stance and become petrified. Hell, do it well enough and they could even become your henchman. If that’s how you think...
Over the next few weeks, Patrick took me under his wing. I was given some super cushy jobs to do; I was sought out for advice and even promoted! That sounds better than it was; I went from lackey #3 to #2. Mum was so proud.
After 3 months of this, my conscience got the better of me. I couldn't keep working for someone who ruled by fear and manipulation. I felt dirty and perhaps worse, I was being unchallenged. It was directly at this point that a career in recruitment popped into my life. I'd never considered this strange vocation before but it fascinated and compelled me. I wanted in!
When I resigned, James (Patrick’s right hand puppet) was crestfallen. "What can we do to keep you? Do you want more money? Do you want a different role?" Nothing was going to keep me selling my soul to the devil though.
I was saddened, however by one simple act I'd given people hope, and I was leaving. I wasn't the panacea they needed though; I was just a cheeky kiwi. I must thank Patrick. If it weren't for him I may never have found the career I've built my businesses around.