Bullying - "part of the daily experience"

I was bullied at work, more than once, mercilessly, relentlessly. One of the "caring" professions. People often describe that sick feeling when you wake up and have to turn out for work, knowing that there is going to be another day of agony. Some of us are unable to prevent it. There are many reasons. With me, it is an inability to see the signs before it is too late, for the clever bully, covers his or her tracks and can always use the little bit of power they have over you to mask the deed. Bullying is like a slow freezing wind; pernicious, inveigling and ultimately incapacitating. It can take so many forms and is such a long game that it is inherently undectectable until it is too late. 

As for the revelations about Downing Street, the quote that registered with me was a Number Ten insider, discussing Gordon Brown, who told the Guardian:

"His intense bouts of anger are unremarkable to anyone who has worked closely with him. You just have to put up with this stuff. It is part of the daily experience, almost part of the furniture. He would behave in that way constantly. He suffers from a massive paranoia and an inability to accept blame, yet he runs a blame culture that allows him to blame others. He does not seek to win an argument, he just seeks to bully. If you have not worked closely with him before, it is truly shocking"
 These atmospheres normalize very quickly, and anyone coming into such a poisonous situation is bound to be unable to express shock, since not only are they the newbie, they are unlikely to be fearful at that stage since bullying does not reveal itself with a fanfare. No, it is the slow release of vitriol and despair.

The anecdote I find most revealing is that apparently, Brown does not know, and is not minded to know, the names of his bodyguards. So when the time comes to take a bullet for the PM, you ask yourself, "do I really want to die, do I really want it to end this way, for a cunt who never even asked my name?"

For a visual anecdote, and one that backs up truth about the way Gordon Brown treats little people, and the way the head of the most powerful nation on earth treats little people, just watch this clip again:


Ruth@VS said...

A good post, WW. I too was bullied in my youth, for the crime of being more qualified than my boss. A dreadful experience, but one which perversely pushed me into a new career, a better and healthier life and gave me strength to deal with the bullies I encountered later. So I'm actually grateful to the cow, funnily enough...

Bullying and other forms of harassment are common in various workplaces but a little known fact is that for a number of years trade unions were one of the most frequent offenders turning up in employment tribunals receiving judgments against them for bullying and harassment. Maybe it has reduced now as they have declined, but the concepts of the closed shop and picket lines are based entirely on bullying principles.

So I'm not hugely surprised that the Labour movement, with its command and control tactics, may harbour such people within its ranks.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Thank you for your personal contribution, Ruth. Strangely, the problem is not the bullies, it is the people in charge who decide not to rock the boat, or who, for other reasons not known to us, brush such things under the carpet.

Mandelson said today that Number Ten operates a "zero tolerance" of bullying. That is quite clearly, a big lie.

Richard said...

I am very sorry to hear of your experiences. I was never bullied at school, and never at work, although the circumstances which led to my recent resignation came close to it. But this was a corporate thing, not from one person, so it was easier to deal with.

The problem we have is that bullying is so badly defined. The things you describe in your post, and the reported behaviour of the SnotGobbler are clearly bullying of the most unacceptable kind, but some campaigners would also classify a child being snubbed in the playground as a kind of bullying, and to me that confuses normal behaviour (in which not everyone will like everyone else) with nasty, destructive and reprehensible conduct which can ruin lives. The fact that there is now a well-funded anti-bullying industry makes matters worse.

I am glad that you (and Ruth) have overcome the experience. As Ruth (almost) says, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Thank you Richard, too. I am glad this blog brings out the best in people. Good luck with your job hunt. Forgive me, but some advice; You enjoy a rich life, make that your starting point for a job hunt..perhaps something to do with motorcyles?

Richard said...

Ah, if only ... I'm afraid that the opportunities are very limited in that field, and none of them pay very well. My background is in education and training, so that's where I will be looking hardest. There are opportunities out there. I'll keep the bike stuff for pleasure only. Thanks for the good wishes.

Anonymous said...

Is Gordon Brown a bully or just a bad tempered grumpy guy? We'd never know. Maybe he erupts. Bullying though can be really sneaky and calculated to sap the confidence of the victim. There's usually a sidekick to make it stick. I was bullied very briefly in school. In Nigeria where the commonsense approach worked. Mum said, this girl thinks you're scared of her, so make her scared of you. So I waited outside the gate after school and picked up a stone and threw it at this awful girl. She was so shocked, I bashed her with my lunch box. We were both 8 yrs old. But it worked. She never came near me again. Bullies only understand one reaction. Fight aggression with aggression and you'd never get bullied again. And it needs to be nipped in the bud as the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to sort it out. If any of your kids gets bullied, get them to sort it as long as it's done outside the school gate so they don't get excluded.
My experience made me quite assertive and quite able to spot bullies as a grown up. When someone tried it at work I got the union involved before things escalated. I also got other people in the office to be aware of what was going and turned them against him. You always have to be quick to spot such behaviour (usually from inadequates)and confide in other people. People are usually very sympathetic and would cooperate with you to sort the bully. Always act fast and take the Israeli approach.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Thank you for that. I think your advice is sound. I just wish I had had it 40 years ago.

Gallimaufry said...

Excellent post WW. According to Mr Yule in today's Times it's a cultural thing . It is "normal" for Scottish people to vent their frustration or passion for the job with displays of temper. Are English people allowed any such foibles? Queueing, keeping a stiff upper lip and saying sorry in all circumstances (especially when sinned against) are routinely mocked.