Last Tuesday I was driving to the airport to have lunch with two of my sons when this Tim McGraw song called Humble and Kind came on the radio. Normally I play music in the background, but I was compelled to listen to McGraw’s lyrics, and they were timely.
Early that same morning I had an executive coaching call, and the client was in tears. She said her manager and peers were bullying her about her perspective on diversity. We worked through the challenge, and she left the call recentered with a declaration on how to move forward with dignity in interactions with her manager and coworkers.
After I completed the call, my heart was troubled because there is bullying in my children’s’ schools, the workplace, in the news, and even on airplanes. It is important to me to guide and support children so they are kind; likewise it is equally important to me to help leaders create engaged, supportive, and equitable work cultures. In my deeply reflective space, I had questions: Where do we unintentionally bully? When are we so resolute in our perspective that we come across as a bully in the boardroom, team meeting, or performance review? Do we come across as a bully when we don’t get our way at work? How are we creating dignity for ourselves and others?
There is a fine line between being a bully and being kind. McGraw says:
“Hold the door say please say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind…
Bitterness keeps you from flying
Always stay humble and kind”
The Workplace Bullying Institute reports that 72% of workplace bullies are bosses. Bullying in the workplace creates a hostile work environment, which is not helpful for a sustainable organization. I borrowed this list of workplace examples of bullying from The Balance.*
● Denying an employee access to resources, assignments, projects, or opportunities
● Little or no feedback on performance
● Withholding information essential to performing one’s job
● Failing to invite someone to an essential meeting
● Threatening job loss
● Excessive monitoring or micromanagement
● Assigning tasks that cannot be completed by deadline and setting unrealistic and impossible goals
● Interference or sabotage
● Treating a worker differently than peers and coworkers are treated
● Excessive, impossible, conflicting work expectations or demands
● Inequitable and harsh treatment
● Invalid or baseless criticism, faultfinding, and unwarranted blame
● Accusatory or threatening statements
● Humiliation, public reprimands, or obscene language
I hope this blog helps each of us increase our sensitivity to workplace bullying, support corrective action, and be humble and kind.