Starting the work day
I wake up energized, feeling like this will definitely be a good day. Ready to make a difference and tackle anything that comes my way. Only to arrive at work to be threatened, put down and sabotaged daily. It was one employee in particular who could change her personality at the drop of a hat. Each moment was calculated to do whatever would make her look better than anyone else, or find ways to put others down.
I watched her do everything in her power to make another employee look bad. She constantly talked bad about him (and others). She blew up any tiny mistake he made and pointed it out to his boss. She talked about “slashing people’s tires”, took credit for things that she didn’t do, asked me to help write anonymous letters to our employer about him, the list goes on…
She did end up pushing him out of his position, hoping to claim it for her own. The next year, she turned on me and tried to play the same games with my job that she did with his. Luckily, I was able to switch offices, still occasionally notified by others of her attempts to sabotage or put me down. But overall, I was out of her reach.
Can you relate?
I’m sure this type of behavior isn’t completely foreign to many of you. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that you too have worked in a hostile environment. I understand that as a single parent, you may be your children’s only support. You might be terrified of losing your job or frightened that person will take their anger out on you even more.
If this happens to you, It’s not okay. Do what you can to get out of the situation. Whether you need to start looking for a different position, confront the person, talk to HR or ask to move locations, only you know the best way to deal with bullies in your office.
Kindness at work
Don’t stoop down to their level and do your best to be kind even in an unfortunate situation. Most people who hurt others are hurting. It doesn’t make it okay, but it’s also important for you to do your best to stay away instead of trying to contribute to the negative environment by acting in the same manner.
A full-day of this, Every. Single. Day. can really drag you down.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t been the only mean girl I’ve worked with. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be kind to stay in a job (or even to be promoted), but there’s really no reason to be a jerk either. People who can’t pull together some common courtesy, create a hostile environment with an unnecessary amount of negativity everywhere they go.
Being kind does NOT mean…
Being kind does NOT mean letting people take advantage. Being kind does NOT mean putting up with inappropriate co-workers. Being kind does NOT mean trusting people who have shown you their true nature.
The main things that I have learned is that it’s best not to let them pull you down with them. If they’re so spiteful and manipulative that they won’t give up the attitude, you will probably never change them, but you don’t have to join your mean spirited co-workers.
Be grateful for your positive coworkers
On the flip side, I have also been privileged to work with kind, inspiring people, who are grateful every day. Most of us are at work for 8 hours or more per day. Once you include the commute, many of us spend more time at our job than we do with our own family. Nothing helps us feel confident like knowing we are surrounded by people who will back us up and support us.
Have you had those days where you’re actually excited to go to a meeting because it means seeing the wonderful co-workers you’re privileged to know? Possibly feeling defeated by the day to day stress of solo parenting and responsibilities of work, but also feeling like you’re not completely alone. Going to work and knowing that your co-workers have your back. That you can rely on each other and that you’re part of a team is an amazing feeling.
Your situation may not be ideal. You can’t control other people, but you can do your best to contribute to a positive work environment.
How can you promote kindness at work?
- Support others
- Hang up and use a “compliment poster”.
- Bring in a coffee, hot chocolate, or smoothie for a co-worker.
- Be kind to others.
- If a coworker is struggling to keep up with a project, offer to help.
- Make cookies, snacks, or some kind of treats.
- Help a co-worker who is struggling and guide them to be successful.
- Offer to stay late or help a co-worker when they’re working on a difficult task.
- Invite a co-worker to lunch or even bring extra to share.
- Compliment colleagues on their appearance or work habits.
- Praise the people you work with often.
- Go the extra mile and praise her to co-workers or your boss.
- Be a team player.
- Welcome new employees, introduce them to others, and help them become familiar with the office.
- Help out with difficult customers/clients.
- Recognize others’ strengths.
- Pick up supplies for others.
- Stand up for a co-worker who is being bullied by someone in the office.
- Celebrate small successes in the office.
- Collaborate with different agencies or departments
I would also love to hear your work experiences in the comments below.