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. Bullied by my boss in 2008, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I started this blog. 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." I was unaware back then that it would catalogue one of the most extreme cases of workplace bullying in the UK. I've found another job, but am subject to a gagging order. I'm still blogging, of course. Just don't tell the lawyers!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Dr Google

A big thanks to @UNISONNews for sending me this link to a TED talk by Clive Boddy about Bullying and Corporate Psycopaths. His statistics are interesting, but there is an inherent danger in identifying corporate psychopaths at work. And it might not be what you expect.

Labelling your bully can be rewarding, but only up to a point. Attributing the psychopath label can be a bit academic. If you’re being tormented at work for 8 hours a day, whether you're working with a psychopath, sociopath or someone who sits somewhere on an autistic spectrum is pretty irrelevant. At first, having read a number of on-line articles, I believed my bully to be a sociopath. Later, I wondered whether he might be on the Asperger's spectrum. Later, I realised the arrogance of this. I diagnosed someone I hardly knew, with a complete lack of medical or psychological training.

Labelling people is easy to do, but much less easy to prove. Clive Boddy points out in the TED talk, “Psychopaths have absolutely no conscience”. But how on earth do we know for sure that someone has absolutely no conscience? We often don’t see these people outside the work environment, let alone have a glimpse into their psyche.

We’re often encouraged to diagnose our bullying colleagues, but as I point out in, Bullied by the Boss (Amazon, 2012):

“Stereotyping and labelling bullies is dangerous because it reinforces the very egocentric bias that allows bullying to happen in the first place. We tell ourselves they are inherently bad people and we are inherently good. Isn’t that the very thinking that [my bully] adopted? He believed he was an all-round better, more worthwhile and valuable person than I was. 

“We can’t dehumanise people who dehumanise people and expect a positive result. I can’t help being reminded that, whilst these experts’ Orwellian ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’ philosophy is understandable, it puts us at risk of adopting the same behaviour we claim to abhor”.

Perhaps it's human nature to search for labels in an attempt to undertstand a predicament which is patently unfair and makes no sense. But it's always going to be more helpful to look at what we can do to get out of a situation, rather than put our faith in any diagnosis from Dr Google.

Very best

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Friend or Foe?

The Christmas holidays can be a strange time.

Former colleagues seem prone to getting in touch and it’s amazing how many times I bumped into them in the January sales. 

It’s easy to imagine that everyone is imbued with festive cheer. That was until a former secretary contacted me to wish me Happy Christmas and fill me in on exactly how much my old firm still curse me. I put a brave face on, of course. But it was sad to learn that a previous friend had altered her opinion of me. She’d bought the HR propaganda.

I was disappointed.

Days later, trudging down the High Street, someone shouted my name. It was a former solicitor from the same firm as my former friend. She could have been judgemental. I wouldn’t have blamed her at all, but she was happy to let bygones be bygones. She hugged me and wished me Merry Christmas.

Sometimes, the people you trust most who let you down and in the all-too-rare cases where you do find an ally in the workplace, it’s often the person whom you least suspect. People are unpredictable. 

That’s why it’s more important to have supportive friends and family outside work. They won’t succumb to office politics. Their pay packet isn’t threatened because of the bullying you’re going through. 

Then friends you have in work are simply a bonus.

Very best wishes
Bottom Swirl