3 Bizarre Principles That Made Me A Tidy Profit From Being Bullied.
I have a passionate, and perhaps perverse, interest in the area of workplace bullying.
I often get asked why I got into the study of workplace bullying, and oddly enough, it’s not because of my personal experiences, though I have been bullied a lot in my life (like most people, I tend to think).
Workplace bullying interests me because I get to observe the worst in people and organizational systems: lack of conscience, lack of empathy, emotional immaturity, stupidity, self-aggrandizement, maliciousness and meanness. I’m interested in what people do when faced with this kind of aggression.
What happens when the darkest of the dark meets the lightest of the light? Narcissists and psychopaths are more likely to target empathic people and the same drama gets reenacted, all over the world, with predictable dynamics each time.
It continues to surprise me the length of time and degree to which good people tolerate being the target of mean behavior, although I understand their most compelling reason is the fear of economic uncertainty.
I see targets being stuck in some dark places, and although I will fight like a Mama Bear to protect them, I do not share their way of thinking about work. I adhere to three bizarre principles that simultaneously protect me and create a tidy profit each time I go up against a petty tyrant or corrupt organization.
Allow me to explain my principles:
Principle #1: Never Have Any Regrets
I was 13 years old when, for a short time, I was the target of a group of mean girls at school. It wasn’t personal; everyone in the class took a turn at being bullied. Nevertheless, it was terrifying. I suddenly became incontinent and didn’t want to go to school.
I was made to go to school anyway by my father who gruffly called me a coward for not going and asked me to stop being so ridiculous.
One day, while wetting my pants on the sports field and feeling my face go as deep a red as the dark maroon patch on my school uniform, I had an epiphany.
First, I needed to rush to the toilets and get home before the smell of stale biscuits (what dried urine smells like to me) aroused suspicious inquiries from my classmates and teachers. Secondly, I realized I needed to create a life devoid of regrets if I wanted to reminisce fondly in my dotage. And back then, I wasn’t even a fan of Edith Piaf!
Though it would be years before I discovered existentialism, from that day onwards, I was determined to live life to the fullest and to make choices that rewarded me with as much fun as possible, no matter that Aunty Pat’s catch-cry (and most of the world’s too, it would seem) was: “Oooooh, you can’t do that!”
Ergo, throughout my life, when something stops being fun or interesting, I stop doing it. If a job’s boring, I quit. If something pisses me off at work, I get angry, then get fired. That doesn’t mean being bullied hasn’t been downright terrifying; it has. But these days I spend far more energy focusing on: “What do I want instead?”
This approach pays dividends in terms of stimulating creativity, which in turn has lead to many a fist-pump moment.
Principle #2: Economy Of Effort
As a young woman, I fell madly in love with a cyclist who rode terrific bicycles. I loved his tree-trunk thighs that epitomized sexiness. We met at a bike shop, just after I’d purchased the best bike I could afford. I was so proud of my bike — it took me places fast, gave me freedom, and looked really cool.
However, listening to him, I learned that a lightweight bike with top-of-the-range gears, handlebars and frame would take you further, faster, and with less effort. If only I could get the right kind of frame, gears, handlebars, I would fly! The Universe must have been listening because through a quirk of fate, I soon got the exact bike I asked for.
My newer bike fulfilled all its promises and more: I indeed went further, faster with less effort. The freedom was exhilarating. From then onwards, I made another important decision: I would take the path of least effort in all my pursuits.
What that looks like in practice is streamlining all my efforts towards a bigger goal. For example, I decided to get my doctorate degree in the shortest time frame possible. In service to that goal, I would repurpose my work over several assignments.
So, when I researched prejudice, I wrote about the childhood development of prejudice, cognitive biases in racial prejudice, and contagion of racial prejudice in social groups, using similar ideas and journal articles in each essay.
Later on, I was bullied in my first job out of university, and I left earlier than I’d anticipated. Nevertheless, leaving was a blessing, since the job was getting difficult, draining and boring. My creativity ramped up a notch, and I received some remarkable opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had, thanks to this experience.
Now I’m more likely to think “How can I use this to take me where I want to go?” rather than despair over a loss.
Hindsight tells me I’ve been streamlining towards my goals without even realizing it at the time! When I chose to focus on workplace bullying as an expert area, I had a wealth of experience to draw from. Suddenly, all those experiences of being bullied for no reason became tremendously valuable.
I now broadcast my stories to the world. I’ve been invited to speak at conferences, published articles in online magazines, and shared on social media. Who would be daft enough to risk exposure by targeting me now? Another fist pump moment.
Principle #3: Profit From Adversity
Never be the target of workplace bullying unless you stand to make significant personal gain from it. If it’s not advantageous, then you need to walk away from it, pronto. This is the essence of Principle #3.
However, if you’re being bullied at work, what do you do? Some people take a path I would never recommend. One of the most harrowing stories I’ve read is Teresa Zerilli-Edelglass’s Thrown Under the Bus: The Rise and Fall of an American Worker, which is a classic guide about what not to do.
Those who seek restorative justice are often in for a lengthy and traumatizing process. Although you occasionally hear success stories where targets get awarded massive payouts, this is the exception rather than the rule. Pay dirt comes with a massive emotional cost attached.
No matter how large the payout, this path is the least profitable. Large organisations are so reluctant to pay out claims that they will do everything they can to avoid doing so.
The onus of proof on the individual is enormous, and for those who do a poor job of documenting evidence and telling a convincing story, the odds are very low of being one of the lucky few who get compensated.
Even those who succeed will face tremendous obstacles. Delays and obfuscations mean those seeking justice face weeks and months of uncertainty in which they have to rely on ever dwindling funds before seeing any traction in their case.
The powers-that-be use their Goliath power to crush vulnerable individuals. Justice is only for Davids or those who can afford it.
However, it is possible to improve your chances of getting a win. Success relies on having damn good evidence and a damn good story. If you have neither, be willing to learn these skills, and be sure to have the emotional reserves to go the distance. Very few people have the necessary fortitude to emerge to get that far.
This is not a path I have chosen personally because it doesn’t follow my principle of least effort. Unless the win is a no-brainer and I have an over 80% chance of success, I don’t believe the fight is worth it, but then again, I’ve never been a gambler.
That said, adversity can be profitable. According to Kaufman and Gregoire’s Wired To Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, going through adversity can make you more creative and resilient.
In the past 20 years, in over 300 scientific studies, psychologists have reported post-traumatic growth in up to 70% of trauma survivors, a reliable phenomenon since Tedeschi and Calhoun first coined the term in the 1990s.
Growth after trauma can be in the manner of a greater appreciation for life, identifying new life possibilities, better relationships, a richer spiritual life, a sense of connection and greater personal strength, empathy and compassion.
The way I profit from adversity is by shifting my mind to a more creative space in a daily self-reflective practice. Using this method, I have created more rewarding opportunities than a mere monetary payout with the accompanying emotional damage.
For example, when a bully threatened to destroy my career last year, this is what I created as a direct result:
* A five-week holiday in Europe
* A five-day intensive with a spiritually enlightened Master
* Became an activist to expose the corrupt practices of a government regulation agency
* Connections with high-profile, high-achieving professionals
* Invitations to speak at four anti-workplace bullying conferences
* Built a new business to bring in a non-localized source of income
* Hiring a top internet-famous business coach for six months
* A well-attended workshop on psychic and spiritual development
These experiences have demonstrated to me that it is possible to:
* Create money out of thin air in a short space of time by bringing to life an idea
* Create relationships that nurture and inspire you
* Become mentally sharper, more emotionally stable, and a more formidable opponent
* Have a powerful impact on those whom you serve, and bring them your new knowledge and skills
In conclusion, the three principles for turning a tidy profit from being bullied at work are: never have any regrets about how you live your life, make significant economies of effort so as to experience less struggle, and profit from adversity by using your creativity.
These ideas represent a far better option than focusing on hanging on for dear life because you’re terrified of facing economic uncertainty if you leave. Join me in implementing an iron-clad, arsehole-free contact in your life and never tolerate mean behavior for longer than you should.
M.C. Higgins loves having things happen effortlessly and magically, making mischief, and stirring up trouble (even though it simultaneously frightens and excites her), unearthing secrets (especially those that most need to be hidden), developing her psychic powers, life outside the physical body, reading energy, intelligence and wit, money, power, sneaky intrigue, tripping malfeasant people up using their own stupidity, chocolate, Dogue De Bordeaux dogs, and rebelling against consensus reality. You can find out more about her on her blog.