The Bully at Work

A narcissist always reveals his true colors...eventually.

I was chatting with my cousin, Karissa, the other day, and she was telling me a bully at her job may finally get what’s coming to him.

Karissa lives in Tennessee, but, we chat often. I’ve been listening to her tales for a very long time and I know that she was ready to quit her job, but couldn’t, due, mostly, to circumstances beyond her control. Her job eventually moved her to a new department, where she hardly had to deal with Marty, her workplace bully, but she still heard complaints from other fellow coworkers about this person’s antics.

She dealt, mostly, in silence, because any attempts to shed light on his behavior was met with incredulity or comments about how Karissa was taking Marty too seriously. Sometimes, she was met with retaliation for speaking up.

Some episodes that Karissa told me about include him making embarrassing statements to her as she left the job, when she would have no opportunity to defend herself (risk being late getting somewhere else or risk a public verbal spat). Another time, she told me about her manager coming up to her and informing her that Marty had agreed to take over one of her shifts after Karissa had, supposedly, offered it to him (she was no longer on speaking terms with this person, and she certainly would not have had THAT conversation with him). She got lucky and was able to nip that issue in the bud, but other employees were not so lucky. After that failed attempt to sabotage her career, Marty began a new campaign. Since he was responsible for closing up shop, one night a week, after Karissa left, he began putting office chairs and trash cans up on desks, knowing that Karissa would be opening the next morning and be the one to have to replace everything (no other employees, who opened after he closed, reported any similar behavior, before or since she left).

Eventually, Karissa was offered work in another department, which she gladly accepted and according to her, she is thriving. Unfortunately, with her no longer a target, Marty has targeted other employees, including her partner, Zach, who eventually got tired of the bullying and moved on to greener pastures (although he still does some consulting, apparently). Karissa tells me that she is regularly hearing stories from other employees about harassment, rudeness, lying, and out and out dereliction of duties.

Karissa has been at her job for almost a decade and twice as long as Marty, which is probably why he was not able to get rid of her, despite his many attempts to smear her reputation (reporting her for shoddy work or having customers attempt to give her bad ratings). Karissa is pretty organized and is proud of her work ethic (we worked together when we were kids). She takes her job very seriously. Apparently, management was not fully cowed by Marty, but that didn’t stop them from confronting her, on occasion, when Marty’s rumors started flying (that’s why Zach finally beat the pavement out of there; he was getting confronted on almost a daily basis and, apparently, he was threatened with possibly being fired if he didn’t stop getting complaints). For someone who got a lot of complaints in her old office, it’s “funny” how she gets nothing but excellent marks from her coworkers and customers, alike, since landing in her new department (It’s also “funny” that, for an employee who almost got fired for getting an exorbitant number of complaints, while working with Marty, Zach seems to be thriving in his new job, as well).

Karissa chatted me up, the other day, to report to me that the business has finally got new management and that management has been to see her, since she is the senior consultant. Apparently, the new management has noticed some issues in her old department and wanted to get her input on why things have gotten so bad since Zach (the supposed problem-child) had left. Karissa has tried to be tight-lipped for a long time; not wanting to rock the boat, because the old management considered Marty a rock-star (they refused to believe that he was the problem-child, despite complaints from other employees; he always had a “really good excuse”) and because Marty had a way of reaching around and doing things to hurt her or her work if she dared say or do anything that Marty could deem embarrassing (like disagreeing with him, publicly, in staff meetings). But, when management came to speak to her, she spilled all the beans and shared all of the examples that I have previously described (and likely some that I haven’t). Karissa is confident that new management will be quite a bit more proactive and they have asked to sit down with her, again, to update some of the office protocols, so that some of the things that Marty (and other past employees) have managed to get away with, will now be a write-up or a fire-able offense.

This is excellent news. Karissa and I have commented between us, for as long as she has been complaining to me, that the rules at her company are too lax and enable jerks like Marty to get away with a lot while other employees pay with frustration and/or job loss. Hopefully, some new rules and protocols will put the Martys at her job on notice that their behavior will no longer be tolerated.

I believe that Marty is a classic case of your average entitled Narcissist; charming, charismatic, and appearing smarter and harder working than he really is. He smears others (who are smarter and do work harder) not just to hurt them, but to detract from the actual complaints that he gets (classic projection and blame-shifting). One thing that I know about narcissists is that they can’t keep up the facade for very long (they may drop it for some people, like Karissa and Zach, early on, but they will maintain the mask for as long as possible for those in charge) and eventually get found out due to their own haughtiness and even negligence (believing that they are untouchable, they get more and more careless, the more they believe they have the trust of those in charge. Having management in their back pocket means that they can get away with almost anything and management will either ignore it or excuse it). They eventually slip up.

Unfortunately, I know from personal experience, and Karissa has learned, as well, that these people are so heinous, they can keep up the facade for years, if nobody is watching closely, but, thankfully, they eventually do get found out, if new eyes and a willing ear come sniffing around. It’s that Abraham Lincoln quote, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. Eventually, some of the people get fed up with the bulls&$t you try to serve them and that’s when chickens start coming home to roost.

Here’s hoping that Karissa’s narcissist’s days are numbered and that bully will be the one who is unemployed and the rest of the business can finally reach its true potential with reliable employees, like Karissa, who can finally do their work without fear of back-stabbing and retaliation.

Tough Times Don't Last

Tough times don't last. Tough people do.

Tough people do.

My motto.

It’s helped me get through so much crap in my life.

So many people have flooded my life with their drama, their meanness, their neediness, their hatefulness.

I have felt, a lot of times, that mentally, I wouldn’t survive any of it; that I would lose it and have a mental breakdown and get myself locked up somewhere.

But, so far, life has gotten better, despite not appearing like it would, at one time or another. I don’t believe in karma, but I have had the satisfaction of seeing people who hurt me end up paying the piper in one way or another (even if it actually has nothing to do with what they did to me). Sometimes, it’s just as simple as someone finally hearing me when I complain about a bully at work or as complicated as hearing that some scam that was pulled on me, backfired when the scammer tried their game on someone new. I do not wish harm to others, but I also don’t desire that the individual who harmed me would be free to harm others. I don’t wish my hard times on anybody else.

Thankfully, even through the toughest times, I have gotten through them and things have gotten better. Well, maybe not “better”, but, more like, I adjusted my attitude and my expectations about how I expect things to get better. Learning to let go of situations that I can’t control, learning to let go of people who push my buttons, learning to walk away from situations that make my life miserable, that is what helped make me a tougher person.

I’m not glad that I have had tough times. I am glad that I have learned how to survive them.

I'm An Introvert and That's Okay

For years, I have described myself as an extrovert. As a child, I had a lot of friends, that I spent time with. I participated, as often as I could in group or public functions, including student or community government, school dances or clubbing, and stage shows or entertaining others. I’ve had sales and marketing businesses. I’ve worked in public relations that had me hobnobbing with public officials, giving public speeches, and giving radio and television interviews. Until my 40’s, my life was full of exciting encounters and putting myself out there. Until a few years ago, I would have considered myself outgoing.

I don’t know exactly when that all changed, but I have a pretty good idea. The last time that I did a live radio interview, a few years ago, and I admitted to the interviewer that I value my alone time and prefer to play hermit on days when I’m not required to be anywhere, I was a little offended when he, jokingly, said to me, “Admit it, you hate people!” How could I hate people? I have been outgoing since I was able to walk. I can’t possibly be accused of hating people. But, he was right.

It’s not that I “hate” people. It’s just that, I realized, not too long ago, that I have lived so much of my life to please others and to try and make and keep friends, that I rarely did the things that I really wanted to do. I was afraid that people wouldn’t like me if I said “no” to doing this thing or that thing. I thought that it made me a bad person not to be as outgoing as was expected of me.

When I slid into my 40’s, I had just recently been divorced and my karaoke business finally fizzled out. That’s when all of my so-called friends disappeared. These were friends whom I had partied with and cried with, brought chicken soup to, and babysat their kids or even gave them deep discounts from my businesses. Some of them shoved a knife in my back, as they vanished. Others vanished when they knew they couldn’t get freebies or discounts by hanging out with me, anymore. I literally looked up, one day, and all my friends were gone. They stopped returning my phone calls or texts or made excuses for why they couldn’t be there for me, despite me having been there for them. At first, I was heartbroken. Then I realized how at peace my life was without them in it.

I am constantly evaluating my life, trying to find ways to improve myself; to make my life better. I’ve tried making new friends, but lately it seems that I’m still making the wrong friends. It’s just easier to be alone. Or, at least, make friendly acquaintances with people who expect nothing more than conversation, rather than commitments.

It might surprise people to learn that I still work with the public. I love working in customer service. I love the satisfaction that I get from meeting people’s needs and putting a smile on their face when they are pleased with the outcome. I work for a small business with very few employees, so I work alone most of the time. That is the thing that I love most about my job. I can get a lot done with limited interruptions. Of course, there is the down-side of having a busy day with more customers than usual. Those days I usually leave work tired and cranky.

Although, I look on my old life with fondness, I don’t miss it. It was chaotic and always so busy. I had people, including young children, that relied on me being “ON”, all of the time. Thankfully, the children are teenagers now and can fend for themselves. My partner, like my children, gets my attention, but nobody (at home) requires me to be “Superwoman”, so I don’t have to pretend to want to do things that I loathe, unless I absolutely have to, which, thankfully, is extremely rare.

to be honest, I prefer, what I call, “The Facebook Life”. It goes back to what I was saying about friendships, earlier. I like having friendly acquaintances for conversation, but I don’t have to commit to being places I don’t want to be or doing things I don’t want to do, just for the sake of friendship. When family comes around, from out of town, I do what is expected, whether i want to or not, but family is almost always the exception. Because. Family.

Continuing to evaluate myself, always asking myself, “why is that I hate going to the movies, among crowds, even if it means never seeing a movie while it’s still new?” or “I miss dancing, why is it that I can’t just pull myself together and go out to the club, once in a while?” I did enjoy doing those things, once upon a time. What made me stop? Listening to one of my favorite youtubers, I got my answer. It’s not that I “hate people”, it’s that I hate having to interact with people unless I absolutely have to. Going out, in public, means that I have to interact with people, whether I know them or not, whether I like them or not. At work, it’s different, because, at least, I’m getting paid to deal with people whom I don’t like. And, at work, there is generally the same people coming in, day in and day out, so I pretty much know what to expect. I’m in charge, when I’m at work, so I have the upper-hand. I have to pretend to like people that I don’t, but it pays the bills, so I can justify the play-acting. I don’t like having to do that, the rest of the time, but why is that?

I grew up in an extremely abusive environment. the children in our family were not allowed to express themselves, no matter how much we wanted, in fact, needed, to speak up. If we did, we were punished, either physically, emotionally, or aesthetically. I learned that I was expected to act happy when I was miserable. I learned that my needs were unimportant so long as the adults in my life were pleased. Until my 40s, in adult relationships, I learned that I was expected to cater to the needs of others, even if it meant, outright, hurting myself. I called it “compromise”, back then, but entering this new stage of my life, I now realize that it was, more often than not, “bull-crap”. I was raised to be a doormat. A friendly, supportive, outgoing doormat. When I hit my 40s, I decided to retire that life.

I’m an introvert and I’m okay with that.

I love having time to myself, to write, to learn, to crochet, to craft, to play games, or write songs, to sing, to play my guitar, to sit in silence, to watch Netflix, to sleep; to do whatever the heck I want to do and to not apologize for it.

L like having the power to say, “No, (I won’t come to your thing, if there will be lots of people there, I will be uncomfortable and it will not be as fun for me as you claim it will be. I’d rather chat, one on one with you, over coffee, where it’s quiet, with few interruptions).”

I like spending my spare time, at home, with my partner and my children, talking for hours about everything under the sun, gossiping about people we don’t like, watching hours of streaming television, playing silly games, or doing our own thing, but in the same space, in silence.

I like not having to be so much in the public eye that I have to have fake friends to keep up appearances. I like that I don’t have to participate in activities that I loathe to keep those same fake friends happy.

I like my “Facebook life” because I can make new friends, with people all over the world, but I never have to leave my house to meet them online, be it twitter or Facebook or whatever. We can talk about all the topics that I’m interested in and I can learn about things that I never knew or teach them about things that I know. We can support each other, in our pajamas. Not speaking can mean that I have been blocked or unfollowed/unfriended, but usually it means that they are off doing other things and not relying on me to entertain them when they are bored (I’m not a substitute for some other friend, they’d rather be with. I like that online friendships tend to be a lot less competitive than IRL ones). If I do find that I’m being used or the relationship gets abusive in some way (one of these days I’ll tell you a story about when I was catfished by some women in yahoo groups, who tried to rip me and my group members off, ages ago), then I can walk away and generally (YMMV) never worry about having any contact with that person, ever again, not even in passing (no worries about running into this person while running errands, like I still do with friends from my old life). It is still sad, sometimes, but making a clean break from people who don’t bring peace into my life, no matter where the friendship existed, is something that took me a long time to get comfortable with, so I have no regrets.

I used to be an extrovert and lived a very interesting life. But, I’m over it.

I’m an introvert and that’s okay.

Hat of the Day

I’m motivated to write, but, today, I have to practice a bit of self-censorship. So, in lieu of writing about having to deal with other people’s crap disrupting my life, here’s another hat of the day.

I got this hat a couple of Christmases ago, from my sister-in-law. It looks a lot better in person (thankfully). I love the raspberry coloring and the bow on the top.