Tipping Point in Workplace Bullying

The tide is turning away from tolerating abusive behavior in the workplace.  At least I hope it is.

Abusive behavior, whether it is in the form of a horrid manager or a horrid coworker, causes real harm to the victim in the form of emotional distress. And this harm negatively impacts the company’s ability to function and serve customers.

Abusive management is as damaging as other forms of abusive relationships.  Just as a battered woman may be terrified of doing anything that will upset her abuser, an abused customer service rep is unlikely to go out of their way to help a customer if they think doing so will bring down the wrath of their supervisor on them.

Scared workers are ineffective workers. But the blame doesn’t lie with the victim. It lies with the abuser who is creating an atmosphere of fear.

Workplace bullying is serious business that negatively affects your business. There is a reason why more and more business leaders have finally decided to stop tolerating abusive behavior in their workplace. There is a reason why California just changed their law to require all companies with more than 50 employees teach their employees how to stop abusive behavior in the workplace (see: http://www.prlog.org/12392861-is-your-company-ab-2053-compliant.html)

The government of Australia considers bullying in the workplace so destructive that they estimate it costs their economy between $6 and $36 billion in lost productivity every year so they have taken steps to fight it as a nation.

Bullying in the workplace is no longer something that can be hidden. We live in an age of digital media and social sharing and bullies are now leaving digital trails of their crimes, and yes, stalking and harassing someone is criminal behavior.

All this heightened awareness of the problem is great. But let’s not waste this moment. One of the reasons bullying endures at all levels of society is because it’s hard to stop. It requires specialized skill and knowledge. The good news is that these skills are easy to learn and teach. What needs to happen now is that we start teaching these skills to our employees.

If you haven’t already learned what it is you need to teach – take my free 2 hour course – Creating a Sexual Harassment Training that Actually Works.  And if you are a victim of bullying consider taking – Ending Harassment & Retaliation in the Workplace.

Wellness Syndrome

Does being happy & well make you narcissistic? It turns out it can, depending on how you approach it.

Before I start this post I need to admit – I do have a book called, The Humanist Approach to Happiness and I am guilty of peddling happiness, from a humanist perspective.

What started this reflection is a BBC radio program called Thinking Allowed. One episode was about happiness and the wellness syndrome - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05w3wfc

Like anything, it turns out that if you focus too much on happiness, to the exclusion of other things, it’s not good for you. It’s kind of like water. Water is great, but too much of it can drown you or throw off your internal salt balance.

Happiness is the same. If we focus too much on our own happiness, we become narcissistic. Instead of thinking about how to improve society, we are focused on how to improve ourselves.  Which is fine, we should be improving ourselves, just not exclusively.

I make this exact case in my book, which if you haven’t read it – you really should. The Humanist approach to happiness is that we are happy when we are helping others.  Happiness occurs when we are connected to others through service to others.  The pursuit of happiness, the way a Humanist does it, isn’t narcissistic. And if it is, it isn’t humanism.

One of many definitions of Humanism is that it is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and our responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.  *Note – this is the same tag I have at the top of this blog*

The problem with pursuing wellness and happiness is that it can become a syndrome. An ideology that pairs happiness and wellness with morality. If you are happy, you are good. If you are well, you are good, how could it be otherwise. It becomes a form of “biomorality.”  Which is really unfortunate because not everyone is bio-inclined to be happy or healthy. It’s as stupid to pair morality with wellness and happiness as it is to pair it to wealth.  (There is a book about this problem and how to avoid it called The Wellness Syndrome – see here - http://www.wellness-syndrome.com/)

So, while I do encourage people to live ethically full lives, that are hopefully happy. I never tell people they need to be happy all the time or they are failures. No one is happy all the time and that should not be your goal in life. Your goal should be to lead a full ethical life that aspires to the greater good of humanity.

Everyone, regardless of who they are and what sorts of biological challenges they might have, can at live life to the fullest of their individual ability, whatever that ability or disability might be. That is the choice. We should not consider ourselves failures if we aren’t well or happy. The real judge of success is: did I do my best and did I try to make the world a little bit better?







Humanistic Tendencies in Business

Your business is not a computer program and your employees aren’t robots

For a while, business management was seen as a technical job. In some cases it still is. This is the type of management where the task to be done is broken down into component parts so that a human or robot can do one little job and then it moves on to the next person/robot for the next little thing and this keeps happening until finally, all the little jobs are completed and the task is done.

This is a mechanical view of management and it has its uses.  The problem is that humans aren’t robots and the mechanical model can only improve productivity to a point.

Humanistic tendencies in business aren’t just a reaction to mechanical managing. It’s also about recognizing that humans matter. That the business is run by and for humans and that humans matter.

Humanistic tendencies in business help us to recognize that even as we automate our businesses, our companies are still essentially collections of people working together for a common cause. Your workers aren’t slaves. You don’t own them. They aren’t “resources” or robots. They are human just like you.

Managers who try to exercise power over workers as if they are slaves aren’t good managers. They have no idea how to lead and share power WITH their employees. The humanistic tendency is about respecting the autonomy of your workers and the creativity that comes with that autonomy. It’s a much more democratic and respectful approach.

Finally, the humanistic tendency in business is that our businesses aren’t just about generating money or capital. They are about using capital to help solve the real problems we face as a society. It is the rejection of greed as a governing value in business.

Humanistic tendencies in business value the business in terms of how well it helps humans thrive. All humans and not just those who own the company. This means that a humanistic business gives employees with meaningful work that provides a living wage. And no you can’t separate out the living wage issue from a humanistic approach to business because any wage that isn’t enough to live on creates societal problems and doesn’t fix them. If a business can’t afford to pay a living wage, from a humanistic perspective, it’s a failure because it’s is creating a net drain on society.

Is your company part of the solution? Or part of the problem? And if it’s part of the problem, what do you plan to do about it?




Overcoming Hurdles

I never ran track, but I still know enough to know that hurdles, when approached correctly, should not slow you down.

I have a confession to make. I am lazy. I don’t like to run. Never have. When I played soccer – I played center lurker. Get me the ball, I can get it in. But don’t ask me to play midfield – that requires too much running.

I never went out for track. I had friends that did and supported them, but it wasn’t for me. The race I like the most is the hurdles. Seeing people run and jump over hurdles while not slowing down is a beautiful thing. I like the human steeplechase the most.

Hurdles are a part of life. Not the racing hurdles, obviously, but the idea that there is something in your way you have to go over or around to keep going on your way. Hurdle is defined as an obstacle or difficulty. Unless you are insanely lucky, you are going to encounter hurdles in your life.  It’s best to prepare for them.

The way to prepare is to know and accept that they are there.  Imagine a hurdler runner just pretending that there are no hurdles on the track. Well, don’t imagine it – this is what it looks like.


It isn’t pretty. Sure – he makes headway for a bit and keeps going, but eventually the hurdles knock him down.

If you want to be successful at clearing hurdles, you need to plan your approach. And you can only plan your approach if you plan in advance for what you are going to do WHEN you encounter a hurdle.

In real life, the same principle applies. I realize that positive thinking is all the rage, but any time you fail to plan for hurdles, you are planning for failure.  My rule is to think of all the various ways things can go wrong and then plan for what I will do if the worst happens.  This way I am prepared and am able to clear the hurdles I encounter instead of going – hey – what’s this and why is it happening? Maybe I can ignore it – uhhh, nope.

To learn more about how to plan for success– take my online course: Planning for Personal Success: A Humanist Approach.

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