To: My Former Employer ~ I never thanked you for this!

Quick preface: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied and harassed. It’s told in a series of open letters.

When you initially purchased the firm you were completely unaware that the founder had been teaching me management. In fact you specified that I seemed to need an unusual amount of help with my work. You explained that you wouldn’t necessarily keep me on if I continued to need so much help. ROLF!

Anyway, shortly there after the founder explained that he had taught me management. You and I studied English. He studied Business. For whatever reason he taught us traditional theory without having us read the theory. At any rate, at one point you told me that the original founder of the firm, “told” you “that he had taught” me “to manage myself and told” you “why.”

You told me that it was fine for me to stay at the firm and continue training agents. The theorist on that is Drucker, by the way. There is something that I almost explained to you at the time but didn’t. I didn’t know why I managed myself.

I’ll explain exactly how this happened. As you know the original founder of the firm and I had a mentor-protégée relationship. You probably recall the fact that he very much loved to pick on me.

Early on in my training he made a joke. It was, “Manage yourself for long enough, manage my office for free, train yourself to be the best rental agent in” the city “and someday little Cobra I’ll teach you big important things.”

I didn’t get the joke. When I didn’t get the joke he thought that it was hysterical and put a lot of energy into keeping the joke going.

In fact, about a year after you purchased the firm I explained to him that I had been successful at completing my tasks and that we should probably move on to important things. He laughed and said, “Do it longer.”

About a year later I said, “I have realized that you will never teach me anything but that’s okay I still like you anyway.”

In the following year he realized that the Bully-Perpetrator entity had lied to me during the interview process with the specific intent of manipulating me out of reinforcing my skill set at management. He was extremely distraught.

The he said, “Think hard, why do you manage yourself!?!”

I still didn’t get the joke. Actually, it was during my traumatic stress breakdown that the punch line dawned on me. I swear to God this could have only happened to me!

Anyway, I didn’t know that you were always operating with the assumption that I would start my own firm. I knew that I was operating with the assumption that it was a possibility. But I didn’t know that you knew that.

In retrospect I realize that it’s why you never gave me a formal position as manager. And, while I resented it at the time, you were right.

So, I wanted to say thank you.


Bullying Intervention

Please see the pages above or the section below marked bullying intervention.

To the Perpetrator: For the last time, the answer is yes!

My mentor warned me that as soon as you began managing me in a traditional fashion I would, “feel it” and it would, “hurt.”

Within less than a week of becoming affiliated with the firm I said to you, “I do not like the way that you are managing me. I know how to do that for myself.”

You replied by asking if my mentor had taught me to manage myself. I replied, “Yes it’s an important rule that” he made in the year that I met him. “I do that for other people but no one does that for me. I do not like it and if you do not stop then I will not stay!”

You ended the meeting abruptly. Once we were visible to other parties you said to me, “Go ahead, it will be okay.”

You acted as if you were reassuring me because I was insecure professionally or socially.

The truth is that I had said yet another thing that threatened you professionally.

For the last time, the answer is yes. He taught me to manage myself as defined by Peter F Drucker, the single most respected management theorist who ever lived.

I can see why you would feel threatened by that. But it isn’t an excuse for abusive behavior, at all.

And, you didn’t operate within confines of law!

To the Perpetrator: Well, since you went there!

Quick preface: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied. It’s told in a series of open letters.

You had absolutely no business referencing my personal and specifically sexual history, ever! But, since you went there in the second summer that I represented the firm at which I learned management I briefly dated a third year law student at the most reputable university in the area. He made the observation that I seemed to know the same concepts that the MBA’s did but simply not know the terminology for them! I can reference the theroists now.

Again, you had no place going into my personal life, at all. But, it’s what men who are threatened by women professionally have done for years and traditionally get away with.

Times are changing!

To the Perpetrator: Really now?

Quick preface: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied. It’s told in a series of open letters.

At one point you were giving me advice on how to interact with a client. You said, “You will feel it.”

I certainly don’t need advice on how to follow my intuition from you, enough said!

To the Current Manager

This isn’t your fault at all and believe it or not I actually feel badly for you. The unfortunate truth is that most professionals have witnessed work place abuse, frequently gender based, and done nothing about it. You didn’t actually witness it but you clearly had reasonable knowledge. I consider it extremely likely that your attempting to handle this in the ethical and legal fashion would have jeopardized your position at the company. It’s quite common that companies retaliate against the victims of harassment and anyone who aligns themselves with them. Since one of your supervisors had reasonable knowledge I feel confident that the corporate culture includes covering things like this up and turning a blind eye. Who knows, maybe they will prove me wrong. But, this wasn’t your fault, even if you were the one who referenced the perpetrators notes.

Honestly, when someone has to choose between their own job security and taking the ethical course of action most will chose their own job security. That is a complex moral decision, not a simple one. And, I’m not saying that’s what did happen it’s just an educated guess. It’s exactly why most people remain silent and turn a blind eye to this type of thing.  The bottom line is that one of your supervisors had reasonable knowledge and this isn’t your fault, at all.

Simply put, it isn’t ethical to hate someone or try to ruin someone because they did what is considered normal within their own society. However, as long as the silence continues these tragedies will continue. Some are teenage suicides due to bullying, some are sexual assaults that go unpunished by our legal system and even universities and others are cases of workplace abuse so extreme that they are traumatic be they harassment, assault or otherwise. We are also typically silent about domestic abuse and child molestation, both of which are disturbingly common.

In short, we are silent about abuse of women, other minorities and children. This isn’t okay. I have always been quite passionate about women’s equality and I see no distinction between women’s rights and human rights. If I were to remain silent then I would be an incredible hypocrite. Moreover, these are human rights violations and public health issues. Something must be done. And, nothing will be accomplished as long as silence is the norm. The silence can only be broken one voice at a time. And, every single voice actually does matter.

But, I don’t hate you and I hope that you aren’t used as a scrape goat or ostracized. What you did is considered normal by society and it’s what most people in that situation do. It’s the social norm that is evil and wrong, not you or your team members.

Possibly Insane!


Image by peterhut via Flickr

I had an interesting conversation with one of my childhood best friends yesterday. I told her that the perpetrators notes from our interview process read; “Attractive, Charming, Witty, Funny, Intelligent, Confident, Ambitious…possibly insane.”

She fell silent for a second and then began laughing. The punch line is that it’s a fairly accurate description. Frequently in a situation like this a woman is instructed to seem conservative, docile and non confrontational. Now, unless she happens to actually meet that description then it may well be a strategic mistake. Basically, working within traditional confines the cards are stacked against a woman.

I’m applying a management concept here. Within traditional confines it’s nearly impossible for me to pursue justice and have a voice. The PR and legal team involved is experienced at playing this game and they will probably win the traditional game. However, what I’m doing is changing the game. Candidly, it will confuse the living hell out of them and quite likely frighten them. Their normal protocol won’t work! 😉

So, while it’s entirely true that I’m possibly insane a great deal of what I’m doing here is strategic. Also, I studied English not business and I’m having fun!

To: The Break Room!

Quick preface: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied. It’s told in a series of open letters.

Break rooms are a mistake anyway. They only cause trouble. There are far more effective ways of building positive relationships between team members that don’t detract from time spent working and encourage gossip, but I digress.

In the break room a handful of you were discussing whether or not a certain strategy was effective with clients. It was something that would have been helpful sometimes and counter productive other times. I was asked my opinion.

I said, “I think that it’s a matter of doing the basics well and creating ones own style.”

You all looked at me as if I were insane. *Ahem*, I’m completely accurate.

Update on 10-23-10: This makes me sound like a slave driver. That isn’t true. I frequently helped agents with business plans that involved less that forty hours a week of work. But, an office is best used as a place to work rather than hang out. If collegues want to hang out together, go to a cafe or pub! 😀

To a certain team member: How pathetic!

I’m not naming any names, obviously, or identifying you in any way. But you told me that other team members wouldn’t like me if I expressed the fact that I like my mentor’s father. I’m sorry, that’s just pathetic. Anytime that the majority of team members need to build their own self esteem by looking down on others it’s an *extremely* bad sign. And, since there was an abusive and predatory individual in charge for a decade I’m not particularly surprised by that serious weakness in the firm’s culture and integrity.

Note to readers: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied. It’s told in a series of open letters.


To the Team Implicated: You all do know that you are guilty, don’t you?

A friend of mine called your firm and asked about me a few years ago. The team member who he spoke with practically hung up on him. If I was actually an insane petty thief who were lacking in aptitude and intellect then you all would have absolutely nothing to be afraid of, now would you?

You do all know the truth already. I can understand exactly why you are afraid.

You have excellent reason to be!

Quick note to readers: “Workplace Issues” is a work of creative nonfiction based on my true story of being bullied. It’s told in a series of open letters.