I’ve talked to many people with abusive bosses who have been constantly yelled at or called names or even threatened. Unacceptable! No one should be bullied at work or any place else. I loathe bullies. I’m going to be honest with you – that experience is foreign to me. I think my natural presence says don’t try me, but I know for sure that my natural response is confrontation – I will nip the foolishness in the bud immediately.
Now, I have absolutely done and accepted things that I never thought I would for a variety of reasons, oh but bullying sends me to a different place. I go from “absolutely not” to “here’s what you not gon do”, real quick. Honestly, that isn’t even code-switching to me. I see it as a warning sign to the level of my patience and your opportunity to rethink your next move. Not proud or even embarrassed, it just is what it is.
Years ago, I had taken a group of young ladies on a field trip, and we all really enjoyed ourselves. When it was time for lunch, we headed to a nearby sandwich shop. Lunchtime in downtown DC is always a disaster so I was instructing my girls to find seats where we could be close to each other if not at the same table, and I could then take their lunch orders. As I’m getting everyone situated, an older man in a suit walks over to me and yells at the top of his lungs “Lady, can you hurry up so I can sit down”. The young man who was with him tensed up and then stood frozen. The body language of the young man told me that he was used to these tirades. In a split second I remembered that I was still on the clock and the children were watching.
How did I respond? I got so close in that man’s face that I could have kissed his nose then I whispered a few sweet nothings. I didn’t yell, I didn’t curse, I didn’t back down. He literally sucked his teeth, stomped his foot, and turned and walked away like a toddler. He threw a temper tantrum. There was no reason for him to have even approached me in the first place because there were other places available for him to sit. I saw the stress release in the young man who was with him. I hope he decided to stand up for himself after seeing that interaction. I was so angry I was physically shaking. I had to go to the ladies’ room and make a phone call so I could talk through that experience and calm down to return to my girls. It was a lengthy phone call LOL!
Screaming at people is a no for me. Employees crying in the bathroom or in their cars is a no for me. Your job should not have you in tears. If you’re crying at work regularly, it’s beyond time to go. Like Queen Mary said, “I’m not gon cry”. I’m a thinker, a documenter, a planner. If I cry because of something that was done or said to me by a supervisor or colleague just know it’s really because I saw a vision of myself being led away in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. That cry means that I have totally lost control of my emotions and I’m about to catch a case. Doesn’t mean that I’m weaker or stronger, it just means that we all process and handle things differently. Again, not proud or even embarrassed, it just is what it is.
I thought about how this post would sound to some people but decided to honor my truth and publish it anyway. I am a very level-headed person. My first step is always to walk away from unnecessary drama and foolishness – my walking away protects you and me. I am an intelligent woman and a communicator so we can definitely talk out any differences or disagreements with civility. I am kind to everyone I meet so if my words or actions are harmful or disrespectful, please know that it is in response to something that was said and done to me. I am not a bully or a pushover.
BOTTOM LINE: No one deserves to be abused or bullied.
Remember our theme for this month is self-love and our word for the year is elevation.
CALL TO ACTION: If you are being bullied at work, let’s work together to put a complete exit strategy in place.
You are worthy. You are valuable. You are enough.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.
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