Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Random acts of kindness for the workplace bully

So anyone who read my first blog post knows that my job, along with hundreds of others in my building, isn't the most secure.  There's a giant axe hanging over everyone's heads.  It's a really positive and thriving place to work right now - not!  Don't get me wrong - nobody is lording this threat over us; it's just there and we know it's coming, just not the "who" or the "when".   It is so easy to get caught up in the gossip and speculation, but all that does is make me more scared than I already am.  And that's hardly conducive to peak work performance!

On Tuesday night I went to a seminar my church holds for women every few months, called Thriving in the Workplace.  There's always several electives to choose from - cooking, craft, marriage, general words of wisdom etc - but this one jumped off the list.  Perfect timing!

In a nutshell, think of people you've worked with who have impacted you for the better, then think of those who have impacted you negatively.  What traits made the positive-impactors so good for you?  Mine were diligent, honest, have an open-door policy and give good feedback on what I'm doing.  The negative bullied by exclusion, were aggressive, yelled, abused their power and micro-managed everyone.

Now, it's so easy to write off the negative people as horrible, mean and nasty.  I actually nicknamed my first minor boss "big, fat, evil, mean, nasty man!"  I kid you not!  I even did a voice!  But the lady taking the seminar on Tuesday night reminded me that those people are often the saddest people around, who have a whole lot more going on than just being mean.  I'm an easy target - I'm small, quiet, polite and often sit dumb-founded when attacked and don't fight back.  I'll come up with a thousand responses in the car on the way home, though!  And the next day, when they apologise, I smile and laugh it off when I'm still dumb-founded on the inside.  But rather than feel angry and want to be mean back, this woman suggested doing an anonymous random act of kindness for them.  Like leaving a chocolate bar on their desk, or a bag of chips or a pot plant or something.  Now that's a good challenge to take on!

And the other thing the host suggested was listing three traits you want to live your work life by (which often spill into your personal life too).  This woman lived her high-powered and highly influential work life by - fairness, kindness and integrity.  Think about it in the car on the drive to work.  Think about it walking to the train or bus.  Pray about it.  Then try to live by it every day.  We'll fail because we're human, but keep trying.

I'm choosing honesty, diligence and kindness.  The diligence part is going to be hard for me because sometimes I just don't have the oomph to keep going when I'm tired, and checking and writing emails to friends is much more appealing.  I do work hard, but some days are just a struggle, and instead of struggling on through and keeping my workload/pace up, I hit the lazy button for a while.  But my husband reminded me last night in prayer that my job, my position and my income are all blessings from God.  It's true!  And how do I want to show my thanks for that - by being a slacker?  Or by working my hardest, helping others when my workload is light, right up until my shift is finished and not a minute before?  Not a hard choice, really!

So I don't know if I'm going to lose my job or not, or if one of my friends will (and some amazing people I work with have the world's biggest mortgages!), but I have resolved to keep working my hardest - I love my job and what I do, so I'm going to relish and make the most of every second I'm there, because it might be over pretty quickly.  I don't want to make it easy for my bosses to fire me - be the easy choice for them.  If they fire me, I want them to have a crappy time doing it!

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