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, 27 November 2010

WEEK 116 Can't Bully Me

I hope you saw the BBC Three documentary, Can’t Bully Me, which followed four youngsters as they tried to overcome the traumatic effects of bullying, with the help of the Red Balloon organisation.

It was very emotional. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy, let alone children. But it was a program of light and shade. The support the children got from Red Balloon was amazing. In fact, I took some of their advice myself yesterday.

Still unable to go to the work Christmas party, colleagues are curious. It’s only a week away now. As they discussed their dresses and gave me questioning looks, I felt under pressure to go. But I know full well, if I force myself, it will trigger a string of panic attacks. Work mates imagine I don't want to go because of a previous Christmas indiscretion. How can I explain it's because I'm terrified of being bullied and humiliated because of the way I look?

And that’s the reminder I got from Red Balloon. It’s to employ of patience. If something makes me very anxious – then that’s the way it is for the time being.

Another thing I learned is that at some point, I’m going to start looking into school bullying too. Those brave children from Can’t Bully Me taught me a lot. Maybe one day I can return the favour and give something back.

Best wishes

BBTB x

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

WEEK 115 Family Familiar

Job identity is a powerful thing.

How many times have you worked with someone curt, driven and disinterested, only to find them the height of charm at social events?

I’ve known loads of people like this. The kind of people about whom colleagues whisper, “You should see her when she’s out! She’s a different person.”

I started thinking about this when a solicitor said, “It’s strange. Giving a client a dressing down isn’t difficult when I’m wearing the guise of a solicitor, but I wouldn’t dream of addressing someone in the same manner if I was representing myself.”

It made me consider how the employment roles we adopt often alter our behaviour completely, not only with clients or customers, but also the people we work with. We can be one person in work and someone entirely different off the clock.

Whilst we all compartmentalise, we should be mindful of ourselves when we do. We must resist, as far as possible, sacrificing our individuality for a generic job identity. It’s a short step from being curt, driven and disinterested to being outright rude to colleagues when the heat is on. And even targets of workplace bullying can succumb to the stereotypical labels directed at them and accept them as some sort of personal definition.

The goal, perhaps, is to be the kind of person in work your family and friends would still recognise if they chose to spend a day with you.

It’s extremely important, even if it is easier said than done.

Best wishes

BBTB x

Saturday, 20 November 2010

WEEK 114 Catch Up

I never lost contact with OLLIE’S secretary from my old firm.

It was around this time last year that I carried her possessions home in a cardboard box. She’d left a ton of stuff behind when PHILIP had bullied her into signing on the sick. I gathered up her 2 pairs of shoes, her Walkers multi-pack, thick black cardigan, personal stationary, mobile phone holder, calendar, biscuits, tins of leek and potato soup, her paperbacks and snack-pack of assorted nuts. I crammed them in an archive box. Then I wobbled all the way to her house, trying to keep it steady as the rain fell.

It was impossible not to get upset.

She’s had a tough time since. She was ill for a few months, when her weight plummeted to 7 stone due to the stress. Then she had to work 7 days a week (days, evenings and weekends) to make up for her lost earnings. Finally, she got a good temporary job. She was on the mend. But last week they announced they’re letting their temporary workers go because of the cuts.

It’s not official yet, but there’s a permanent job coming up at my firm. I told her on the QT to get her CV in. They’re giving her an interview soon. I’m keeping everything crossed.

It’ll be my pleasure to help her unpack her cardboard box somewhere nice.

And the above sentence pretty much defines my ambition for us all.

Best wishes,

BBTB x

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

WEEK 113 If It's For You...

I’m forever reminding myself of the phrase, “If it’s for you – it won’t get by you.”

I tend to go after things like a Jack Russell. I exhaust myself working to obtain something - when sometimes it’s more sensible to trust these things will to come to you.

I was all ‘terrier’ in collecting evidence against HOWARD.

Then yesterday, out of the blue, I had a text from HOWARD’S first secretary. He’d always got on pretty well with her. She’d had a clear out and came across some paperwork from a couple of years ago. It included a couple of friendly e-mail exchanges between her and HOWARD. However, there were one or two serious ones, where he’d enquired with reference to me, “What the f*ck have I done to upset her now?” HOWARD’S secretary politely indicates that it’s his habit of standing over my desk for hours on end insulting me that does it.

There are also other e-mails where he’s sarcastic following publicly humiliating me. “I hope she’s not f**cking crying again!” he writes.

HOWARD’S first secretary asked me if I wanted them for evidence. She’s heard about my Tribunal attempt. It’s a gift. Although I’m not taking them to Tribunal, these e-mails are essential to back up my workplace bullying credentials.

If I’ve learnt one thing it’s that no amount of dogged, persistent lies by workplace bullies can keep the truth hidden for long.

Best wishes,

BBTB x

Saturday, 13 November 2010

WEEK 112 Opportunity Knocks

It’s been a tough end to the week for my parents. They arrived home on Thursday to find they’d been burgled.

My mother took it the hardest. She felt the thieves might have been watching the house. She believed they’d been deliberately targeted. She wracked her brains as to whether they’d done something to make them stand out from the other houses in the street. She agonised over whether if she’d done this, that or the other – it wouldn’t have happened.

When the police arrived, they painted a different picture. They knew for sure the thieves had leaned on any number of doors until they found one that gave. It was impersonal and non specific. It was that simple. As night fell, the burglars had worked their way down the numbers and got lucky.

The police made my mum feel better. Not just because they agreed my parent’s house is now reinforced like Fort Knox, but because they’ve stopped her blaming herself. She realised she wasn’t asking for it to happen. It’s just one of those unpleasant facts of life.

The whole thing resonated with the way I look at workplace bullying. We spend inordinate amounts of time wondering what we did wrong. But I believe it’s more a case of the pressured boss or colleague working their way down the numbers. When they lean on someone without the neighbourhood objecting, it’s their choice whether they take the opportunity to destroy whatever you’ve got.

Opportunity may knock, but opportunists don’t.

So you mustn’t blame yourself if you didn’t see it coming till it was too late.

Best wishes,

BBTB x

Thursday, 11 November 2010

WEEK112 Remembrance Day

I’m taking today out as a mark of respect for those the brave souls who fought and died for our country and those still fighting for it too. So today I’m going to keep it simple and leave you with the words of Winston Churchill:-

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Wise words for all of us.

Best wishes,

BBTB x

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

WEEK 110 Location Location Location

I’m back in every sense of the word.

It was a wonderful break.

I arrived at the retreat like something out of a Bronte novel - cutting across the cliff tops in the gale force wind. By the time the door swung open and I was scooped into the arms of Sister Nora, I looked as wild as the weather.

When I’d combed the twigs out of my hair and got to know my fellow retreaters, it was apparent they were searching for something spiritual.

They were convinced that, after all the yoga and meditation, I would return to the world a changed person. They said things would never be the same again – now I was embracing a different, gentle philosophy. I knew that wasn’t the case. I’m not looking to make inner changes. The change I want to see is in the workplace. I just needed my batteries recharged.

I got exactly what I wanted.

It’s essential, when you’re fighting against something or for something that you stand back from it now and again. The perspective doesn't have to be philosophical as much as geographical. You just need distance, a quiet change of scenery where you can reappraise. In my case the questions were along the lines of, is this worth continuing to fight for? Is this worth continuing to fight against?

Of course, the answer is yes.

The distance I needed to travel for that perspective wasn’t an inner journey so much as the distance from my flat to Sister Nora.

I highly recommend it.

Best wishes

BBTB x
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