So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Saturday, 23 February 2013

WEEK 265 On Reflection

I’ve been involved in this blog for three and a half years. I’ve written close to 300 blogs, though some were removed last year for legal reasons. 

What an extraordinary journey it’s been. I’ve been subject to every kind of bullying: threatened mentally, physically and legally. I’ve been clinically depressed. I’ve lost more than one job out of it. But it’s far from all being bad news. I’ve had a great time raising awareness. Whilst I’ve made some lasting enemies, I’ve made far more marvellous friendships. I fell in love with Twitter. I had the most fun ever in Canary Wharf with the book launch and the barbershop quartet. I’m retraining as a teacher. I’ve read countless books on workplace bullying. And I’m in daily contact with my friends who’ve been there too. 

It’s all so complicated that I could never explain it to someone who didn’t already know.

But I’ve a nagging thought. I’m not being bullied anymore. Should I step aside for the new bullied by the boss bloggers? 

It does cross my mind once in a while. But every time I wonder whether it’s time to put Bullied by the Boss behind me, bullying at work is everywhere. In the last two weeks I’ve seen and heard so many instances of bullying in its various forms, I’m shocked. The injustice to targeted employees still makes me angry.

Will I give up? At some point I’ll have to. I can’t keep going forever. All I can say for sure at the moment is that it’s not going to be any time soon!

Very best

Saturday, 16 February 2013

WEEK 264 Army Camo

There was an interesting article in the Western Mail on Friday 1st February.

Labour MP Madeleine Moon is calling for an independent ombudsman to investigate the constant allegations of bullying and harassment in the armed forces. She explained to colleagues at Westminster that if a soldier was considered good at their job then they were likely to be highly protected in the event of accusations of harassment. 

The outcome to those complaining seems to be routinely that they are ostracised, seen as socially incompatible with forces culture and often accused of lacking a sense of humour.

Ms Moon also added that complaining was not always an option as it usually had to go through the chain of command and doing so could have serious consequences for their future career. 

I completely agree that something needs to be done, but the bullying element is not solely a military problem. Her ideas are great, but Ms Moon is trying to implement the kind of support that employees at work used to have before Vince Cable and the Tories took over. She’s talking about Tribunals, access to justice and the equivalent of ACAS for the forces. A hard task when the tide has turned on employees’ rights in general.

I also think there should be a distinction in Ms Moon’s reforms between workplace bullying and sexual assault committed in the forces. Sexual assault should be dealt with by the criminal courts.

I do hope Madeleine Moon gets somewhere with her reform requests at Westminster, but with the Tories at the helm, she might have to go in with a tin hat, urban camouflage and some SAS style determination.

Very best

Saturday, 9 February 2013

WEEK 263 Volunteers Wanted

This week, I was kindly given the opportunity of reading witness statements from a textbook case of constructive dismissal.

The situation couldn’t be clearer. An ‘independent’ outside assessor was brought into a company to get employee feedback. They made it clear to the employees that answers would be confidential and asked questions like: ‘If you could change one thing about this firm, what would it be?’

If you been bullied or you’ve ever come a cropper with your employer, you’ll wince at the above. You know what’s going to happen next. But if you’ve never had such a problem, there’s every chance you’d be flattered. To be asked for your opinion on ways the company can improve sounds a lot like inclusion and respect.

The reality, as we know, is that if you have any great ideas – you’re in trouble. They’ll suspect you’re second guessing management decisions. Even worse, you might be planning to set up a rival firm after poaching their clients. I wonder whether the majority these one-to-one meetings which claim to be off the record are out to reveal exactly this. 

In this particular witness statement, when the former employee was challenged openly by his boss about his answers he said thought his responses were confidential. He was told: ‘The assessor works for me and while I pay him, he tells me everything’.

I do wonder what the company agenda was in conducting these interviews. We’ll never know. But it certainly wasn’t to listen to their employees and improve productivity. The only time, it seems, when you can safely appear to care about the firm you work for is during the initial job interview.

And they wonder why the British economy remains sluggish.
Very best

Saturday, 2 February 2013

WEEK 262 Leadership, Drive and Bullying


It is with more than a little trepidation that I accepted Eva’s kind offer to be the first guest poster here. Trepidation because I am aware of the feelings which a topic such as this evokes, and also, because what I have to say may not be immediately recognised as appropriate. Yet, Eva encouraged me to share a few thoughts with you because she noticed one of my articles which considered bullying from a different angle. 

In keeping with the style of this blog, I’ll keep it brief.

Bullying should not be tolerated and those that are bullied need our support. However, there are a lot of people out there who are not bullies per se, but can easily be regarded as one. My concern is that ambitious, determined and generally well-meaning individuals are rising up the corporate ladder with insufficient regard for the topic of bullying. You don’t have to be a psychopath to be a bully, although I’m sure it helps!

In my article Are You a Bully? Are You Sure You Aren’t?, I cited 31 behaviours which are not uncommon among leaders and, in my view, are tolerated (if not actively encouraged) by many leadership development programmes and senior-level bosses. 

One of the more interesting ones on my list is “Demanding things at short notice”. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a leader who is not at times rather demanding, and usually at short notice. The trouble begins when the emphasis is on “demand” and lacks an element of “felt” consideration.

I believe that you can be ambitious and highly driven without risking being perceived or becoming a bully. However, that requires careful development of a strong set of “other” orientated values.

Now, with a deep breath, be gentle with me, what do you think?

Thanks, Colin. A fantastic piece we should all be mindful of! I'm also looking forward to hearing what others think.

And thanks for taking the time to contribute and share your views.

Very best wishes
Bottom Swirl