Courage and patience

Almost every day I hear people’s stories about how frightening it is to say what you think at work. Sometimes it is the fear that by speaking up on social platforms inside the workplace they will be opening themselves to ridicule or even hostility. Other times it is the fear that even saying what they think as a private individual online outside work can be traced back to their employer and get them in trouble.

I also hear stories about outrageous acts of bullying in the workplace. It can be as overt as tantrums, throwing things or shouting at people but also, and sometimes this is worse, systematic sneering and undermining of people who dare to break ranks or try to be different.

When responding to these stories I am careful not to underestimate the challenge or the risk. Many, I am tempted to say most, workplaces are pretty dysfunctional. Is this inevitable? I am naïve enough to believe not. Will it change overnight? Sadly not.

If we want our workplaces to be different we need to learn to stand up for ourselves, defend our right to have opinions, and gradually, through individual acts of courage, show people that things can be different. Even if it takes a long time.

8 thoughts on “Courage and patience

  1. I would also hasen to add that those of us who observe such dysfunctional behaviour aimed at others need to show courage of our own and call it out.

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  2. Hear hear. But unfortunately there also appears to me a link between those who do say what they think, who are strong and capable, and those who are bullied – generally by those who are not, by those who are threatened by it, and who bully to undermine and attempt to discredit those stronger/more capable, to remain "above" them.The "few" who stand up are too frequently ‘got rid of’ or sidelined and so many organisations remain managed in at least part by bullies who only care about their own egos and power trips, and not the business.

    This saddens me hugely, there is such a waste of potential in people who have bullies as bosses, any organisation worth its salt should root it out for the sake of it’s own sustainability. Sadly though, too often it applies to HR departments too, who ultimately have to manage the human resources of the business on behalf of (sometimes bullying) directors.

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    1. There is so much collusion around this stuff and people accepting things that they know are wrong. It gets so ingrained that people stop noticing and forget that it doesn’t need to be the way it is.

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  3. Often it is hard to disconnect the very basic of needs (keeping my job and earning money) from the need to do and say what’s right for the future. Tall poppies are often the first to be chopped, but if the field (team) grows and rises as one it’s far more acceptable…

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    1. I talk in my book about times on our internal forum when we had "I am Spartacus" moments. Someone would say something brave or contentious and a load of us would say "Me too" before he got shot down.

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  4. Visiting friends near Harrogate and eldest son (early 20’s) arrived home for dinner unexpectedly, last evening. He and I engaged in a great conversation about making a difference in workplaces. I shared a story of a very difficult time with an employee I have experienced over the last 8 months. His comment was "How rare it is to meet a leader and boss who maintains such moral principles!" I was so taken aback by his comment – as it struck me what a sad reflection of our workplaces this is. Then I read this blog just now ! DC

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