Have you ever been bullied in the workplace? I have. It was confusing. In my head, I left bullying at high school. Nope! It was uncomfortable and I had no idea what I had done to this person. This person would steal my sales, speak down to me. One time they literally took my chair and told me to sit on the floor... Not even joking.
Bullying has a dramatic impact on mental health.
I was able to manage the situation after months of horrendous behaviour. However, bullying is still a huge problem in workplaces and can cause a lot of turmoil in an organisation. I'm really excited to be speaking to one of my favourite people on #linkedin, Rebecca Brown from Thinkwow who is an anti-bullying advocate!
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You can find the full LIVE here on my YouTube Channel (where you can also catch them LIVE).
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And we are live. So welcome back to the Get Your Sh*t Together Live Show and today I am speaking to one of my favorite people from one of my favorite duos. Rebecca Brown from Think Wow. So if you don't know I actually spoke to Rebecca's husband a few weeks ago in regards to talking about burnout and sales teams. And now I'm talking to Rebecca about anti bullying and bullying within the workplace and just bullying in general. And so Rebecca is an anti bullying advocate and I do not think there's a better person to speak to so welcome to the get your--Get Your Sh*t Together Live Show. How are you?
I'm great! Thanks, Katie. What a lovely introduction.
You're welcome. You're welcome.
I'll come back if you say nice things about me.
Just shower you with just, you know, just kindness, everything like that. So I think today we are I think today talking about bullying and talking about anti bullying movements and things like that. It's such an important time, especially because this past year, if we really look at it, you know, kid, if we look at children going to school, the children that were getting bullied from school haven't been at school. So you know, they've, they've had a bit of you know, reprise from that. But then you've got them going back to school. So how do we manage that? And then we've got the added, you know, the added issue with workplace bullying as well, which is also a huge issue. So I don't think there's any more better time to talk about bullying than the now. So how, how did you become an anti bullying advocate? Like what made you want to get into that?
Yeah, it's really strange, actually, it very much happened kind of organically. I've been bullied horrendously, in my life, I was bullied as a teenager, and then again, bullied in the workplace when I first sort of entered the working world, and it had a huge impact on my life. And I didn't really deal with that. I don't think until this last year, when I became a lot more active on LinkedIn, and started sharing some of my personal stories. And I shared some stories about being bullied. And I was just really overwhelmed by the response, I had so many people commenting so many people messaging me directly to sort of say that my story resonated with them. And sadly, a lot of them were actually stuck in that place, right there and then, and they wanted advice. And I didn't really feel like I was qualified to give advice. I sort of thought, Well, you know, I don't, I've been bullied, but you know, I was bullied. So what can I possibly do to help you get out of it? If I couldn't even really get myself out of it, I suppose. But the more people that reached out to me, the more I got this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, that actually that wasn't good enough, I couldn't, I couldn't just keep telling them away saying, Well, I don't, I don't really know, I can't, I can't really help you. So we decided that through our business, we would do something about it. And although the business is not related to bullying at all, we set up a page just signposting people to really useful resources from people who actually do know what they're talking about. And started offering businesses a free anti bullying health check that they could use to assess whether or not there stuff felt safe or not. And it sort of went from there really.
That's amazing. I mean, for people that who are watching who don't really know what you do. So what does Think Wow do?
Yeah, so, we work with businesses to effectively help them attract, win and retain customers where a customer experience consultancy predominantly. But the one thing we have found working with businesses is that there's such a huge link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction that actually keeping your staff happy and healthy is one of the most critical factors that you can you can get right. So although it's not a direct link, actually, if you've got staff who have who have been bullied and who are feeling really scared to come to work, your customers are probably going to be suffering too. So it kind of links in a little bit with that.
Yeah, I was going to say like, I know that you did a lot of customer service stuff when I was like, You know what, like, if you're going into work feeling unsafe, and you're getting bullied in the workplace, and we'll get to this as well. The ability to be able to do your job effectively. And, you know, customer service people let's get real, they have a really tough job they dealing with, obviously they're dealing with good, they're dealing with good customers, but the old thing, then handling objections to handling, you know, uncomfortable conversations and, and, you know, negative feedback, essentially, and they're at the front line of thought and so if you're getting bullied on top of that, it's got to be a really stressful, stressful kind of role. So I can I can only imagine like that it has to be linked at the end of the day. So I was reading up on some on some statistics before about bullying in the workplace and at school. So it actually says that a fifth of young school children are actually they feel like they've been bullied, and that 33% of them have actually had suicidal thoughts. Which is really that's, that's crazy. I'm not I'm not the scares that so, so, so scary. So what do you think some of the biggest reasons for that is like, what do you recommend some of the reasons that people are getting bullied. I mean, I remember when I was at school, I got bullied at school, I actually got bullied more aggressively in the workplace, which I'm more than happy to talk about. But what do you think is really playing into this bullying statistic?
Yeah, I think there are so many factors. And I think that's, that's part of the problem is that because there are so many factors, that it's harder to tackle, it's harder to sort of pinpoint one thing or another. But I think certainly, stress levels in individuals play a huge part of it, because you've got the kind of accidental bullies who don't even really realize that they're doing it, but they're stressed themselves, they've maybe got some problems at home, they maybe have been bullied at home. You know, bullying doesn't just exist in schools and in the workplace, it exists within within the household too, which is just absolutely tragic. Because there are some people out there who just don't get that reprieve ever. But you know, it's quite often a sign that something is stressful for that for that individual, for that child, there is something going on that is causing them some significant fear. And bullying is often a way for them to reach out and try and sort of grab some control, grab, grab a little bit of power back. So I think that's certainly one factor. But I honestly think that, you know, society plays a bit of a role in it. And I think we have really allowed victims to blame themselves for far, far too long. You know, if you speak to anybody about their burning experience as a child, and you say to them, you know, what happened? Why were you bullied? None of them ever say, Oh, I was bullied because my bully was really insecure. They all say, Oh, I was bullied because I was a bit fat, or I was bullied. Or because I had ginger hair, or I stood out of the crowd, because I was really, really tall. They always say I was bullied because of I. And we just allow that. Well, I Oh, yeah, God, that must have been really tough. No one says, whoa, hang on a minute. No, no, no, that's not why you were bullied, that bully would have found someone to pick on regardless of who it was. It's It was never about you. Not for one minute, it was always about them. And their need to sort of balance that imbalance of power that they're feeling deep inside. So I think yeah, if we can, if society as a whole can really put their foot down and stop victims from taking that on themselves. Maybe children start to stop seeing those issues as a reason to be bullied and maybe start embracing it and being more confident about the things that make them different.
Yeah, you know, it's really interesting. You ask people, it's like, you know, why were you bullied? It's like, why are we even asking us? Like, what would you like, you know, changing just to this simple language, right? It's like, why does one bully like what, like, you know, what happened? Rather than, you know, why were you bullied? And actually, because even just that language alone is actually giving you like, the idea of like, what was I bullied and thinking about your thinking, but you're, you're thinking, like, why am I getting bullied? And you know, from somebody that's been bullied? Like, I get, yes, I was bullied in school, but in the workplace, and it was just so confusing. I was just like, I have no idea what's going on. Like, I have no idea what's happening. I think that you're just changing the narrative of going like, okay, you know, if you're in the workplace, at least, when you're a bit older, you have the ability, you might have the emotional awareness to actually go hang out, hang on a second, this isn't me. But you actually said something really interesting about the stress response, which is, obviously something that I talk a lot about stresses, stress is my jam, I talk a lot about the impact that stress has on the body and the mind. (Yeah) But that is a really big element. So when we look at bullies, and we can go into a bit more depth about this a bit later, but when we're looking at bullies, a lot of the times it's understanding what why they have a bad behavior, it's a bad behavior, they've gotten into a bad habit of putting other people down, or whatever it is they're trying to do, whether it's for control, or whether they're just trying to shift, you know, someone's made them really, really bad. And it's their way of coping. It's not okay, like, I'm not saying like, you know, let's just put our arms around bullies and be like, your behaviors. Okay, right. Now, I understand you've had a rough back, I was like, No, no, your behavior is really inappropriate. Where's that behavior coming from? But stress does that, right? So being able to be able to sort of talk about it that way. And rather than saying you're a bad person, because you're a bully, talking about bullies, it's actually your behavior is really bad right now. Like, if you were talking to kids, you don't say you're a bad kid, you say that behavior is inappropriate right now. Right? So having having that awareness as well, but as adults, that's easier than being a kid because when you're a kid, you just feel singled out and you just don't understand why that is.
Yeah, definitely. And I continue to to an extent even as an adult, you know, I was not prepared for bullying in the workplace. I think I had a level of naivety there that bullying was a childhood problem and that as adults we know better. You know, once I left school behind that was when I was going to be safe, and I really didn't see it coming in the workplace and I think it took me too long. To recognize it as bullying, you know, I tried for too long to change the situation myself by just working harder by just trying to be a little bit more likeable by just kind of trying to second guess what my, what my crazy boss was gonna ask me to do next and sort of be ready for her. And it didn't work, because nothing I did would have been good enough for her. You know, she was she she had a problem with me. And it was, you know, it took me a lot by surprise. But yeah, I think understanding that the problem is with the bully, if I'd have understood that from a lot younger, it would have helped me. And it certainly has helped me to be able to move past my experiences of being bullied, because having just that tiny bit of empathy for them, it just kind of helps you let go of the anger, you know, otherwise, it's very easy to just really sit in that place of why me Why did it happen? How could you know, what did I do wrong, and if you know, it was never about you in the first place, and you can maybe feel a little bit sorry for them for what they've got going on in their head, it really is a powerful place to get to,
well, it actually helps you guys, it prevents you going down that rabbit hole getting on the hamster wheel of going what's wrong with me and trying to fix everything that you think it might be at the end of the day, you're like trying to fix things that it doesn't even matter what you do, it doesn't make any sense, because that's actually not the problem. So you're spending all your time and energy and your emotional energy on something that isn't even going to solve the problem. So you and I are actually talking off camera for a little bit about what like, well, like, you know, I was talking about my experience with billing, which we'll talk about as well, which I'm happy to have to discuss. But you were saying like, were you even aware of it. So you even said I didn't even know, it was like, you know, we didn't even know it was billing and I think there's a lot of people out there that either a monad even like they feel like something's wrong, but they're like, is this bullying? I'm not quite sure. Or some people see bullying in a really different life. So I wanted to sort of have a bit more chat about how you how you realize it was bullying, you know, you didn't realize straight away. So like, how did you come to the realization of going Holy crap, I'm getting bullied, like, what, like, how was that process? Yeah, I
think actually, hindsight was was a really powerful tool when it comes to that. And I don't know that I even really thought I was being bullied there. And then even up to the point where I left the second job, I was being bullied. And I think I, you know, I definitely thought I've got a horrible boss. But for a really long time, I actually, I would say quite openly to my husband, I'd be looking at a job. And I'd find that the person who I'd be working directly for would be a woman. And I'd say I probably shouldn't apply for that I don't really get on that well with women. And I was still very much kind of this is about me, I just don't really I don't click with women, women don't like me. And actually, it took having some fantastic female bosses, for me to recognize that that just wasn't the case. I had just been really unlucky. And I found a couple of women who had some serious problems. But I think, again, society has a lot to be a lot to be responsible for, you know, when you consider the training that we have to prepare us for the workplace, the training that we have to get into the working world, it doesn't exist, you know, we don't we don't learn how to be an employee, before we get our first ever job, we learn on the job, we are effectively apprentices at being in the workforce. And so actually, before I'd ever even started working, I had been exposed organically to some really seriously negative stereotypes to leaders through TV through films. You know, if you think about some of the some of the programs that we watch, and that we we tune into in the millions, you know, some of the best grossing programs on TV, have very toxic leaders publicly shouting people down publicly telling them that they're worthless that they, they've done a terrible job. And, you know, we applaud these people as strong leaders. And we keep tuning in. And I think that gives people such a negative grounding, because they then get into the workplace. And when someone talks to them like that, it feels like that's okay. It feels like that's normal, and it doesn't feel good. They still feel really awful about themselves for hearing those hideous things said to them for hearing a horrible tone of voice. But no one knows to challenge the fact Yeah, that's just not the way to lead. You know, where's where's the constructive criticism? Where's the help? Where's the where's the training? It's not about balling people out and telling them that they're worthless, that doesn't achieve anything.
Yeah. And I think that that comes down to like my, like poor management training as well. Something that I talk a lot about just within my work and what I what I do, especially talking about stress and leaders and how that can impact sales teams or teams in general. It's the management training there, right? And I think you're right, like every single TV program that is anything to be related to work. You see bosses yelling and screaming at their employees and it's just been normalized and I say the most horrendous things and sometimes it's funny for us as old as the audience, but those things do get sad like in the boardroom, and and in the sales rooms. and things like that, you know, some of like, you know, I remember in a workplace I actually got told if, if you can't like I, I think one of my things was crazy crazy. But this is just an example of a manager, not bullying but probably not saying the most constructive thing that could be construed as bullying. But I remember, I've done to 18 hour days, I would done a third, my third day was a 12 hour day before that I was doing another 12 hour day, I think in the middle of the fourth hour day, I was like, you know, I just really need to have like just an hour break, because I wasn't really having breaks. And my manager turned around and said, If you can't handle this job, maybe you should leave. And in my head, I'm like, I am like, a hard working person. I was in sales, hitting all my target cells over chain, shaving all of those things, but have that said to me, you know, you see those things on TV, and I was just like, what the heck is happening? Like, did we talk about, you know, I've worked well, I think, like, it was like, you know, I'd work like 60 hours in like four days. I'm like I was I didn't have like a doctor's job. I wasn't doing anything crazy. I was just in a sales job. And I but the thing is that kind of conversation, I do not blame my manager for that I actually blame the fact that they weren't probably trained properly. They didn't have they thought that that was motivational. And I'm like, that's not motivation at all. Like, I just want to walk out of here and come back. But okay, but I think it does come down to that to that management, that management training as well. And I think it's really important that you guys have, especially when you're going into businesses going, Hey, here's the other thing, right? How often do you think managers actually go out and have an issue with bullying in the workplace? Yet, if we look at some of the latest studies coming out that 71% of UK employees have felt bullied in the last three years? So how many managers do you reckon turn around agree? I don't have a problem with bully, my team is amazing that I don't get bullied. I mean, I would,
I would say the vast majority. And that was why we produced the the anti bullying health check. Because actually, the The problem is, is that most people think they don't have a problem with bullying. Most people think they aren't a bully. Most people think they haven't witnessed bullying. And there are so many different types of bullying that can go on. And you know, some of it can be very, very subtle, very, very kind of long term sustained low volume attacks that sometimes are done in private. And actually, it's it isn't about do you think you've got a problem with bullying? It's about do your staff feel safe? And if you're not prepared to even ask that question, do my staff feel safe? That should be a warning flag. You know, what, what are you trying to achieve? Because Surely it's better to be able to say hand on heart, I asked my staff, do they feel safe? And they said yes. Or even I asked my staff? Do they feel safe? And they've said actually, not really. And now I know what to do I know how to fix that, than it is to say, yeah, I think I think my staff are fine, I'm just going to assume they're fine. Because really, their well being isn't that important.
The other thing is as well, where it's bearing head in the sand, they don't want to know the end. So they want to just be like, Ah, you know, like, the problem, I don't have to deal with it, right? It's that whole, like ignoring it and bring the head in the sand, which doesn't, which isn't productive at all. And I think that that's something that what you guys are doing and just having that that check. Having that just you know, even that just that little survey, it's like do my stuff, you'll say, super, super important, because a lot of the times I would say managers won't even be aware. And here's the thing, they could be actually the ones pulling and not even know that know that they're doing it because it's been so normalized, to be able to say, Do what I say, and I can treat you however I want. Because there's a hierarchy or system in place. Yeah, that doesn't make it doesn't always, it's not conducive to healthy workplace, or a healthy outcome for whatever you're trying to achieve. So if you've got, you know, people that have to work on deadlines, or they have targets or whatever it is, you're not going to achieve them like like, what is it you're going here here for as well. So I think that that's something that is, it's just important to say, but we're also talking about off camera and you just sort of mentioned it a little bit. There's some people just aren't aware that they might be bullying. And you know, I was telling you about my story where I worked in this industry where this person bullied me relentlessly from day one. Literally, I walked into this office, and I have no idea what set this person off and why they were so horrible to me. But they were I mean, the first weekend, if you saw the LinkedIn post, this person literally took my chair and told me to sit on the floor. At this stage. I'm 30 years old, and I'm looking at around going I left high school, what 15 years ago 15 years ago, and everyone in the office saw it and no one said anything can I was kind of like is this just normal behavior and in my head I was like, okay, like obviously this person has a problem. I'm not sure what it is. But it went on for four months and went on for four months not this person didn't steal my chair every day. But they would do other things like steal my sales they would like for right me in front of people belittle me in front of in front of people. It got so bad But other people from other management departments were going up to my manager going, you have a huge issue on your hand. That's how it was so bad, but other people felt compelled people from other countries were coming and going. Now you got a problem here. Yeah, I remember speaking to my manager about it. And they pretty much said, You're a big girl, you can handle it. But at the end of the day, the person wasn't receptive to hearing that kind of feedback. Right? And so you were saying to me, um, you know, do you think she knew, like you were talking about? Are they? Are they a bully? And it's like, Well, yeah, but they would that person think that they were being a bully? That person had no idea. So when they got told you bullying Katie, that person was like, Am I really like, I think I'm up. I'm a bully. But yeah, it is a big thing. Oh, Rafi microaggressions microaggressions is such a thing, right? They are.
And it you know, it doesn't need to be big for someone to start to feel really insecure around someone, you know, when I was bullied in the second. And last job I was bullied in and you know, she, she would just make snide remarks all the time. And, and you know, as I was working in it, it was a retail job. And in the contract, it actually stipulated that we had to wear heels, no smaller than three inches at all times. Okay, so I was
getting great feedback and grind
my feet all day long, every day wearing these massive heels in tiny little pencil skirts. And we had a delivery to unpack. And you know, when you're unpacking a delivery, it's huge big boxes, you're lugging them around a great big dirty stockroom in my heels and my pencil skirts. And normally, when my when my manager wasn't there, I just kicked my heels off, and I'd have just been doing it barefoot, and it would have been fine. But she was there. And so I kind of just carried on doing this, this delivery and ended up tripping over a box and looking at flying across the room. And she just looked at me and she just went, you're not very practical are you? And I was just like, would be in this scenario, you know, and in high heels and a pencil skirt doing a delivery who is going to be you know, really handy and really practical. But you know, it all added up. Yeah, and actually the culmination for me. And at that point, like I said, I still don't even really think I recognized I was being bullied, I just knew I wasn't happy with the way I was being treated. Was that I, I had some holiday booked at the end of the month, and we had a really big target to hit. And we were nowhere close. And as the store manager, I couldn't just go off on holiday and be like, see you guys over to you fix it. So the week before my holiday, I'd literally spent the whole week phoning through all our VIP customers to invite them in for a special showcase to spacey say, we've got some fantastic new lines, come on in for a coffee, a glass of wine glass of champagne, have a little look, have some fun, bring some of your girlfriends, if you like them fantastic. If not, then it would just be lovely to see you. So I invited about 35 of these VIPs to come in during the course of the week made sure that we had enough stock in in that they'd have liked and had it all really set up so that the team would basically just be able to know what they had to do. And I came back from my holiday and it had gone really, really well. And that's obviously testament to the team. They'd all worked really hard, they get Ben on top of it. But all she could say to me was it's no shock that the one week you're not in the business is the week where we sell them out the most, you know, it's clear. And then she turned around and said to me, your assistant manager could do your job in her sleep. And at that point, I was just like, wow.
Even like regressions there. Yeah.
It's crazy. And you know, ultimately, the bottom line was, I was a store manager, I trained my staff. Well, we had hit target and I still couldn't please her. So you know, you look at behavior like that. And if people don't, like you say they've not had the training, you know, she did? Yeah, the training if she'd have been champion herself, I think often. Certainly my experience has been that actually the people who have believed me most in the workplace have been the people who potentially felt a little bit threatened by by me and by my ambitions. And I, I never had my ambitions and maybe that was maybe that was my failing, but you know, I would be quite open to sort of say, look, I'd love to have your job one day, please teach me Please tell me how you've got to where you are. I'd love to learn from you. But I guess that maybe put a bit of a target on my back.
Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, that wasn't your failing that was just essentially you showing that you actually want to grow within the business and and do things like that. And it was the way that was perceived. Right? You know, one of my favorite quotes ever is, perception is reality. So whatever is the other person's perception is their reality and might not be ours. And we have no idea how they've gotten there. But it's so important to understand that and a lot of the times when, like we've said, you know, like from friends Since a lot of the times when I've been bullied at people at a couple of other times in other workplaces, a lot of the time it was because someone else felt threatened. And it was just like, Well, I have no idea what you're talking about, I'm just gonna focus on myself or to my own thing, but it does become a huge issue. But when we're looking at what we can do about it, I think that, you know, like, I don't know what your thoughts are, but do you think it needs to be a top down solution here? Do you think it needs to come from the top down and actually getting the owners or the or the management to actually be able to go hang on a second, let's get my emotional intelligence up a little bit higher. So I can see what I'm doing and how my behaviors impact other people. And then train staff like what like, which way do you think it's should go?
I think in a perfect world, yes, 100%, it should start from the top, it should filter down, it should be embedded in the culture, I think the problem you have is that actually is the problem goes all the way up to the top, they are the kind of people who want to self reflect, they're not necessarily the sort of people who want to learn how they could do better. You know, I think, often there there can be a problem in sort of smaller businesses where it is maybe kind of that that almost family culture, you've got someone owning the business, who maybe wasn't a senior leader in another business, before they owned the business, they might have inherited it from parents, maybe maybe they started the business themselves. And if they've not had any kind of management training, that does leave them open to potentially going down some negative paths. And it's really difficult as an employee, if you're working for the owner, to be able to say to them, actually, I feel bullied, because what are they going to do? You know, they turn around and say, oh, my goodness, I'm so sorry, let me change my behavior? Or are they going to say, actually, it's easier to find someone else to fill your shoes? So I think that that's one of the biggest issues. But essentially, I think the first place to start is just to assess Is there a problem? Do your staff feel safe? And once you've asked that question, do your staff understand what your anti bullying and harassment policy is? Do they know where to find it? Do they know who they can report things to? Do they even know what the signs are to look for? I think it has to be a company wide initiative to educate on what bullying is all the different secret little ways it can happen and how to challenge it, you know, there are some safe ways that you can become an active bystander, and not just witnessed bullying, but helped to intervene in a way that doesn't then paint the target on your own back. So really, for me, it has to be led from the top employees need to know that it's being taken seriously. And they won't, if they're being told, on the one hand, don't bully, but then they see the managers bullying, you know, that doesn't send a great message. But essentially, if you can educate on the signs, how to change it. And you know, maybe actually, even as I'm talking, I'm thinking this is, maybe this is not not right. I think, you know, the problem is, is that by the time people get into the working world, they're often entrenched in their own attitudes. Yeah, actually, it starts at home. It starts with reasons. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. schools need to talk about educate.
Yeah, so I normally like I remember when I was at school, it was like, if you got bullied, it was like, Oh, just ignore it. Like, I remember the advice that I would get, it's like, just ignore it. They'll get bored, they you know, they'll stop after a while and and just go on your merry way. But here's the difference when we were at school, like I don't know, like, I think we're around the same age when we went to school, in primary school, and even most of high school as well. We didn't have social media, we didn't have phones, we literally would go to school, if we got bullied, we would then have a safe place to go home. And I think that will actually I'm gonna ask you, do you think that evolution I think it's pretty obvious the evolution of technology? Do you think bullying has become a lot worse, and it's more? It's more damaging now than it was when we were kids? You know, what, I'm not gonna give our age away. But like, back when we did when the phones was not a thing that
dinosaurs roamed? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, I was I was pretty much on the cusp of it. And I was actually talking to my mom the other day, and I had completely blocked it out of my mind. And I think maybe to protect myself, I don't know. But she we were talking about when I was bullied at school and kind of the the tipping point. And in my mind, the tipping point for me was kind of I just got to the point where I was saying, I was ill every day I wouldn't go to school. I was just like, you know, I don't want to go to school today. I've got a sore tummy or I've got a headache. And eventually it kind of culminated in me telling my mom that I was being bullied. That was my recollection, her recollection was that I got death threats via email from some people at school. And that that was when I went to her to say Actually, I don't feel safe to go to school. And I was like, what I, I literally don't remember it, I just I have no idea. And you know, that was an email. And that was about as high tech as it was. I'd have had to have sat there for 10 minutes to dial up on my dial up internet and to even get that email now with so Media with mobile phones. It's just constant. And it's, you know, it's a barrier in between the emotional reality from it as well. I think, yeah, troll strangers online because it doesn't feel like they're hurting a real human. So, you know, I saw a BBC article about a woman who had been publicly shamed, I think, I can't even remember what it was. I think she I think she was quite a large woman. And basically, she just had stranger after stranger telling her that she didn't deserve to be alive that she was hideous to look at. And she'd never met those people. But they felt like they had a right to wade in on her life, just because she was on social media. So yeah, it's it's far worse than it's ever been.
Yeah, I I agree with that. I think technology's just made it easier for people to let you they're allowed in your house. At the end of the day, there are a lot of new safezone Yeah. And here's the thing, though, I think that, you know, it's one thing, kids doing the bullying online, because they don't know anything better than growing up on there. So it's actually, I think you're right, going back to children, educating kids in the house. And it's, it's, it's a jewel thing, right? It's like, this is acceptable, this isn't acceptable. So if you, for instance, for the kids that are on the receiving end of it, it's like this isn't acceptable behavior, you have to let us know, this is the things that you know, safeguarding your kids, this is what you can do to the these are the opportunities. Now, I know, schools are coming out with a lot of anti bullying stuff, which we just did not have when we were growing up, which I think is really good. But I think also educating kids the power of their words and educating them going when you say these things you can really, really hurt people and building up that understanding of just because it's on a text, just because it's from like, you know, a message or whatever it is, those words still have power. And that's really important for them to understand. And I think educating that from a really young age, because I think that technology isn't going going to go anywhere. It's just going to evolve and get more intense. Let's be real. But helping kids educate bullying in the classroom, outside of the classroom, acceptable behavior, not acceptable behavior, and sort of creating more of an emotional intelligence. I think that that that's something that, like when I'm looking at bullying, it's an emotional intelligence here. So Rafi has said empathy, active listening, being non judgmental has never been taught. Literally what we're just saying, say thank you, fa. But, you know, I think that educate, I think we need to have a bit more of a push on emotional intelligence and building that up, rather than focusing on other things as well. Like, what what do you think?
I absolutely agree, I think learning how to be a considerate human being is so important. And you know, our children are really young, we've got a two year old and an almost four year old, but the almost four year old this year, effectively experienced her first perpetual unkindness, and I'm not gonna say it was bullying, because it was a three and a half year old kid. And I just don't think that the the kind of aggression was behind it. But she got to the point where she wouldn't go to nursery. And when we raised it with nursery, they were kind of like, you know, it's six of one half dozen of the other. And that might well be the case. But our point was kind of like, Yeah, but it starts here, we have to, we have to collectively be taking it as our own responsibility to educate these kids that there are thoughts at the end of their actions and you know, no longer is it okay to say things like sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, because that's just not true. So words are the worst part. You know, I mean, I remember verbatim some of the things that were said to me as a 13 year old kid, they still stay in my head now, because they were that hurtful to me, and they shaped so much how I saw myself growing up. Yeah, words are words are so powerful. So yeah, it has to start young. But I just I sort of, I guess I sort of feel a little bit like, maybe our curriculum is just a bit broken in places, you know, we I agree. I think it's great that people can spell and that they can do basic maths and that they know how to do these things. But if you think of the emphasis that's put on things like photocopy or even really in depth mathematical thing, mathematical problems, you know, if you're, if you're not going to be an engineer, or a mathematician, or someone who's going to be working with numbers, and you know that early on, because some people are not good at that I was terrible at math. So this is it and you know, I worked so hard to get my maths GCSE and I cried when I got to be at maths GCSE because I was like, I never have to do this again. Did I have to learn Pythagoras theorem? Did I have to learn algebra? Or could maybe, maybe could I have spent half an hour a week learning about, you know, emotional intelligence instead? Would that have been a better standard my time,
but I think that it starts you know, I think there has to be an element where we have to start teaching, teaching kids that and something that I've spoken a lot about, you know, with just my fiance, just with people just my network as well as understanding the action, action and consequences. element, there seems to be a lot less than If you see this in the workplace as well, where there's an action, and then there's no consequence or the consequences, that makes sense. So for instance, like, I think people actually just do things without even thinking it's like trolls, they do things without even thinking, or, like, kids do things without thinking, because there's no consequences behind it. And I, and I'm actually kind of, like, when I look at bullying, like, I actually think it's become like, a bigger problem than it has ever been. In my, in my personal in my personal opinion, I could be very wrong, it could still be just maybe we're speaking about it more. But I need to become, maybe. But I also, I also think that element of technology has made it that much worse. I think that we don't have that safe place anymore. Like you know, you get bullied at school face to face, and then you get home and you've just got your Instagram and your your messages or whatever, it is just full of just hateful things. But I think that there has to be an element of teaching people that agiou like action, in consequence, like your actions do have consequences you do make, you are actually creating some type of pain and what that looks like, again, that's just an emotional intelligence thing, which is actually saying, my behavior is impacting the people around me. And just understanding to what that element is. Because how many times have you heard somebody say, in the workplace, I know I have said this. I'm like, I really don't like you speaking to me, it's like, Yeah, but I'm just angry. It's like, that's okay. You're allowed your emotion, you're allowed to be angry. But I'm telling you, your behavior isn't okay.
Yeah, I would agree with that. And, you know, I think, halfway me maybe gone a little bit too far. The other way, you know, I sort of hear the phrase that, effectively no one can make you feel something, you feel something about something, but no one has made you feel that way. And I agree with it to a certain extent, you know, a certain extent you have control over how you receive things, and you have control over whether or not you take offense to something. But actually, if you're in the grips of being bullied, you don't have that level of like awareness, you don't have the ability to remove yourself from something and think, Oh, well, you know, actually, I have control over my feelings. So I'm going to choose whether or not I listen to these people who are calling me hideous and ugly. When it's happening every day, day in and day out, you start to hear it as your norm, or you start to believe it, you start to think it's true. And their comments do impact you. So I think there's almost a tendency for people to just be like, Oh, well, you know, if you choose to be offended by what I've said, that's your problem. And to take away the ownership when actually know what you've said, is offensive. That's why I'm feeling offended. And there's almost like this kind of counter counter movement against standing up for, for people and standing up for yourself. And, you know, people who refer to these over sensitive generations as as snowflakes, and, you know, are they actually just overly sensitive? And, you know, maybe there's a degree of sensitivity around things, and maybe there's a degree of people getting more upset about stuff that maybe they wouldn't have once upon a time. But actually, you have to look at that you have to look at causality, you know, would they have got offended? If you were just nice and polite to them? Probably not. Actually, just kind to each other? Wouldn't it be a nice place to be in?
I know, and I think that does, again, comes down to that whole, your actions have consequences, please just be aware. Be aware of what you're doing to other people and how you're impacting other people. But you're right, there is that counter movement, which is saying, I didn't make you feel that way you choose to take it that way. It's like, hang on a second, even just you saying that's got some attitude behind it. Like, where's that coming from? Right. So it's being able to, you know, account from the age old saying, you know, sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt me. That's just not true. Like, that's Yeah, that's just sorry, not true, I would actually say, words and emotional like, and that because words can cause that emotional pain, right? That can be a little bit that can be just as traumatic if not more traumatic than the physical element of being being bullied and shoved into lockers and all that kind of jazz that we see on TV.
I think it's I think it's all I think it's all damaging, you know, I think as a as a girl, I felt really quite lucky that the level of bullying I sustained was largely been some of the things I saw the poor boys going through, you know, being held into bushes being shoved into cupboards and then the cupboard being pushed flat over onto the floor, so they couldn't get out of the cupboard. You know, those things that happened all the time. And actually, the worst part about it was that largely, they happened within groups of friends, and the person was the butt of the joke was considered for the friends. And it was all just banter. And there's, there's that kind of perception that we were all laughing. We were all having fun, and that's great. But actually, if it's the same kid every time you're picking on, do they feel like your friend or do they actually secretly go home and cry? You know, yeah, there is a line and I think kids don't always recognize that line because if funds being had, and everyone's laughing along it all just feels very acceptable. And one of the best ways you can actually stand up to bullying is to stop laughing. Yeah, that's all messages. Like, I'm not going to laugh about that. Actually, I think that's not funny guys.
it sends a really strong message to stop. And you know, if we can start spreading that out a bit more.
But here's the thing, though, what you just said there, it's like, you know, there's always that one part of the joke or that one person or the button for drugs, here's the thing that like actually happens in the workplace as well. That's not just that's just not a kid thing that's happening in the workplace. I remember in another workplace that that worked with, there was a group of girls who, they just didn't like me. And I don't know why I was cool with that. I was actually quite like, I was quite happy being a lone wolf that was just like, Whatever. I'm just gonna come and do my job, leave. I don't really care. I had other friends. But there was a group of people that they would remember they would go out for lunch. never invite me. I remember the general manager coming down going, Katie, all the girls have gone out for lunch. Why haven't you? What? No, she's like, Where is everyone else? And all the girls are going out for lunch. She's like, well, you're a girl. You haven't been invited. I was like, isn't that interesting? Isn't that interesting? And I was like, I wasn't invited. And I remember coming in another time and there's a petition up and somebody didn't know that I was sitting there. And they were all talking about me going like, oh god that Katie girl She's so she's so annoying. And she's so loud. Yet I never spoke like I never spoke. So I was like, Alright, until one other person joins the business. And she's still actually really great friend right now. Shana. Angela was just like, what do you guys do? And like, she can hear you like, why? Actually, I stood up and go, hi, I can hear you just wanted to let you know that. Like, I'm sorry for being loud. If you have an issue, just let me know. And then I had another friend that came in and she said, working and she stood up for me. And she was like, Hey, guys, this isn't funny. Like, this isn't okay. And another person then joined in and said, This isn't funny. It stopped at the end of the day, but like, just because it's not just a kid thing. And I think this is something that I that's what shocked me the most about going into into the workplace, right was the fact that it doesn't stop just in primary school at a high school, it actually followed me into my adulthood, which I always found super strange. But I think that's really powerful message is, if you see someone being bullied, and you're in a, in an, in a position to actually stand up for that person, do it. And it can just be as simple as you know what, I don't really find that funny. I think that's a little bit bullying, like, I'm just not gonna laugh at that you might not be the person doing it, but you can stand up in your friendship group go, Hey, guys, let's back up a little bit. Like that seems a little bit harsh, like I'm actually going to feel guilty.
Yeah, and all it will take is one person because actually, the chances are most people are kind of aware, that sort of laughing along thinking all that was a bit that crossed the line a little bit, you know, and it just takes one person to be brave enough to say it actually, there's a there's a Disney Pixar film, it's one of the short films like sort of 10 minutes long, but it just portrays this so well, and it's actually a feminist film. So it's, it's about a woman going into workplace and basically being completely excluded for being a woman. And then she changes to be more masculine, to fit in to be more like the men and starts doing the same things the men do. And then another woman joins and initially she, she does all the things the men are doing, she takes the path, she's, you know, she laughs she excludes that woman, she doesn't invite her to drinks. But then you see that kind of dawned on her that hang on a minute. This, this isn't right. And she, she flips it. And you know, scroll on six months down the line, and the workplace is full of women and full of men, and they're all talking to each other, and they're all having a nice time. And, you know, it is about sort of that that kind of feminist issue of being in the inner competitive, masculine environment. But it applies so much to bullying. And I think, you know, people could just watch it with their kids growing up to sort of, look what happens, like how powerful standing up for someone can be. Look how powerful standing up for yourself can be. Yeah, if I had have, if I'd have felt confident enough to stand up for myself as a younger person, I don't think I'd have struggled the way I did. But I think the problem was, the more bullying I experienced. And the more I listened to those voices in my head that said, this is because you're freakishly tall. It's because you wear glasses, it's because you just are a bit of a geek, I Shrunk, I really tried, you know, I was five foot 10 and a half from the age of 11. And I was about a foot and a half taller than everybody else on the playing field. So at breaktime I would stand there like making myself as small as I possibly could. And all that did was send a massive signal to all the bullies around she's she's a weak one you can get her you know, if you need to make yourself feel better about yourself. There's a target right there. And it's only really as an adult that I've fully embraced everything about myself. You know, I wear high heels now because yeah, I'm tall but why shouldn't I wear glasses regularly and you know, I I am a strong confident women now. I wasn't there and I think Yeah, I had I had I been able to meet myself back then and give myself a bit of a pep talk maybe things would have been different.
Yeah, and I agree on i think that you know, like, like I was saying before like hindsight you is a wonderful thing to be able to see that as well. And I think that, you know, Rafi said before as well standing up for yourself or just standing up for somebody else can be really nerve wracking. But if you feel really passionately about it, I think that it's, it's really important to do that. And Tyra said that, you know, she experienced more bullying in the workplace. And she did as as, as a child was more experienced more bullying as an adult, then, as a child, that actually was my experience as well. Like, I know, I got bullied in primary school, I just don't really remember. Like, I remember those a teacher, but at the end of the day, it was just like, it was the it was the 90. So like, it was what it was. But um, I think that being able to stand up and saying this isn't right. And I think, you know, if you can leave any type of, you know, advice for parents, as well as managers, like, what would you say, to actually go, this is how you could help bullying in at home and help with your kid? Because I know, I know that. I think it was Chloe, that was your little one that was getting bullied, right?
Yeah. And I think she's okay, now. She's actually friends with the person who she was before. So I think it just shows that actually, if you can just get ahead of it. And then it's, it can be okay. But I think there are probably two pieces of advice that I would give, I think the first is to just try and raise your kids with kindness and empathy in mind. So if they say something to you, if they say something to each other, that's not particularly kind of they say something about themselves. It's not particularly kind, it's kind of standing in, say, hey, hang on a minute, that's not very kind. Think about how you would feel if someone had said that to you. And you know, that's, we do that a lot. And certainly with Chloe, she'll come home and say, Oh, you know, so and so said, I couldn't come to their party and I cried, and we're like, oh, did it make you feel sad? No, then kind of go back to it to sort of say like, you know, you just said something a bit unkind to daddy, then how do you think that might make him feel, and we kind of focus really heavily in on the consequences of the things you say, having some emotional weight behind them. But I think the other thing is to not be blinded to the fact that your kid could be the problem, you know? Yeah, love to hear it, we would want to hear if someone phoned us and said, Look, actually Claire has been picking on someone, we would take that really seriously, because we understand that kids go through really complex journeys, and that they learn at different stages, and that they will be tempted to join in with the crowd. So yeah, the first thing to do is to be open to the fact that you might need to keep an eye on it from both sides, you know, protect your children, but really teach empathy, teach empathy, all round, teach them to understand why a bully might barely teach and to understand why it's not kind to leave someone out. And I think exclusion is a big one. Yeah, it gets forgotten about because you're not actively talking to someone. But like you said, being left behind when they all went to lunch, I feel great. If that's not a nice thing to do. And you know, I think back to my own childhoods, and to my primary school, and there was one boy in particular who just didn't really have any friends. And I remember my mom, I invited everyone in my class to my birthday party. And I remember her saying, and you must invite James. And I remember being like, Oh, do I have to invite James? And she was like, yeah, you'd let you have to invite Jay. And so I did. And do you know what the saddest thing he he came to my party, and I was a bit like, God, James, hey, you know, I was probably about seven years old. So you know, old enough to, for it to hurt, I think, you know, he probably was aware. But it came to the end of the party. And he was still there. He was still at my house. And I was like, my is James still at my house. And it basically transpired that his grandma who he lived with, so I don't know what I don't know what his parents were doing. I don't know where they were, but they weren't in his life. His grandma had tried to come and pick him up. But she couldn't find the house. So she just went home. And I was just like, Jesus, and this poor boy stayed the night at my house that night. And I remember my mom was sitting me down to talk to me to say that you need to, you need to be kind to this boy, because he has enough going on in his life. You know, this is not, this is not a happy childhood for him. And I still remember that now. You know, I remember that lesson. And the fact that I was quite happy to leave him out until my mom was like, no, that's not that's just not how we treat people.
And yeah, you know, you don't just don't know what's going on in other people's lives. So treating everybody you meet with a bit of empathy, and a little bit of understanding is probably the safest way.
I think that's really good advice. I think, actually, you know, I was speaking to Brian Armitage last week, and he was saying, like, I have a story, you have a story, so and so has a story. Everyone has a story, you just don't know what it is. And so if you go into every idea going, everyone has a bit of a story like and just be open to it. You know, you might not know what you might not ever know, but understanding that other people's pain is there as well. And you don't know you so know. So just be blind. You know, when I think I say let us just be a dick. But it's understanding what that means. Right? Like, don't just be kind and don't be and don't be rude.
Yeah, I think that's I think that's it and I think you're right I think on a surface level everyone agrees don't don't get it, everyone is still being unkind. So I think there needs to be more understanding as to what that really translates to in reality. But I think, you know, whenever I think about the really the toughest moments in my life, the ones where I really struggled and felt my lowest, I would not have been talking about them to people at that point in time, I would have been putting a smile on, I'd have been going about my day to day trying to just cope. And it would only have been a lot later than I'd have opened up the friends that I'd have opened up to family. And I think that's true for most people. So don't assume that just because someone's walking around with a great big smile on their face, they don't have a battle that they're fighting, you know that it's not so good to leave them.
Yeah, that was my journey as a teenager. And I think that, you know, something that, you know, I'll just say this quickly, and then we can move on to the manager, one what managers can do, but I had a really severe eating disorder when I was 15, to 22. And so you could see that I had a problem. But I would never have spoken about it. And no one spoke to me about it. But I would walk around with a big smile on my face thinking that everything was completely completely fine. And that was that was part of my story. Like you could physically see that I wasn't coping but you wouldn't know because my face was like telling you a different story. I was like, No, No, I'm fine. Everything's going really good. Everything's fine. But you don't know what's going on in that person's life in that person's world or anything like that. So just just, you know, just be aware of that, you know, I think this is a good part for where people can pause and go, how has my story and what has happened to me? How has it impacted me? And how have I felt most of you can do that as a kid. And as an adult, like, I think that that's something that thing out having the ability to just even if you just have one small piece of self awareness, just have that have a with awareness of what in your life has impacted you? Because I think that's a good place to start. Right? It's like, how does this impact me? And how do I feel about it? But what Okay, we've talked about kids and what, what you can do in the house? But what do you think managers can do? I know that they can go to your website, fill out that, you know, get their staff to fill out that? Do I feel safe in the workplace, which I think is fantastic. And wolves, if you're listening, can you please go to think wow.com?
So yes, www dot think wow, dot co at UK and then it's forward slash just be kind, we'll get you to the the Yep.
If you can pop that up in the in the chat, so people can find that, if any managers listening to that will be great. Thank you. But what's one thing that they can do? What else do you think managers and workplaces can be doing to keep their staff safe? Yeah, so
I think the first thing for any manager or anyone in a position of authority, the first thing is to become a really vigilant self monitor, to notice yourself when you are feeling high periods of stress when you could be snappier than usual. And to just try and make sure that what you're saying to your team isn't coming out in any way that you wouldn't want to listen back to later. You know, just imagine someone's pressing record and everything you said to your team that day, have you been too snappy? Have you been too short? Have you told them to just get on with it and figure it out when actually what they needed was for someone to sit down and show them how to do something. And you know, if you can just be that vigilant self monitor, and really actively work towards being a kind and supportive leader, then that's a really great place to start, you know, that that takes away one element that you have to worry about, you won't be able to control other people's behavior. So I think you also need to be able to educate your teams on what winning looks like the different things that can feel like bullying, you know, putting that line around kind of that banter, you know, a little bit of office banter is good. And I've you know, I know I always sound a little bit like the fun police, when I'm like no more banter, you know that having a joke is great. But if it's always at the expense of someone, then that's not necessarily going to be funny to them. So if you feel like someone maybe is always being laughed at, that's not okay. And that needs to stop. And you can put that kind of you can make it almost a joke, you know, we had a big team of really young young people who worked for us, and it was a call center, and we had about 40 of them. And most of them ranged between the age of about 17 and 22. So quite young, loads of banter loads, often no appropriate line, they would just say, into their head, and you'd be like, Oh my gosh, companies,
just said that, you know, they would say things that were racially inappropriate. They would say things that were sexually inappropriate. And, you know, instead of kind of pulling them all off to an office and being like, how dare you? This is absolutely not okay. We kind of try to deal with it in a slightly softer way. So we basically just made up this kind of fictional HR button. So if someone felt that someone had said something that crossed the line, they'd be like, what HR button and that would be in its tracks. And, you know, I think you can be creative about it. It doesn't have to be boring. It doesn't have to be like the fun police but it's about giving people a safe way to stand up and say, No, I think we need to change the subject Now guys, that's not okay.
We actually had that in one of my workplace. He says we call it the unknown. And I say why we call it the UNH button. But we call it the Finish button. You know, don't ask me. I don't know where that came from, but we call it a button. And it was, yeah, you took that to five minutes. I'm yeah, the contact, you know, and it was just like, okay, sorry, sorry. Like, I didn't realize across the line that and here's the thing, right? Everyone's lawn is really different. Like you can be highly appropriate to some people in your, your workplace, and especially if they have that relationship as well, right. But you might not be able to have that with somebody else if you don't have that relationship. So it's being able to, like you said, if it's a soft approach in the workplace, it's actually going like, Hey, I'm actually uncomfortable with that. And it can be soft with HR button too far. Those a lot. Yeah,
let's backtrack, guys. Yeah, we had, we had someone who we worked with who was the nicest, loveliest person, but his sense of humor was a serious thing to get used to. And once you've been there for a few months, and you got used to Ebola, Okay, fair enough. But we would literally have to keep him away from new staff members on their first couple of days. Because if he talked to them, they would want to leave. And he would just be like having fun and making some jokes, but they were so borderline making people feel uncomfortable. That that was it, you would just keep away from them. So I think you know, just being aware of the different personality types in your team and how you can handle those people and maybe prepare other people in the team for them. If you have someone that's just out and out negative, though, tackle it. That's that's one of the things that I think is, it makes me really angry that there are some genuine bullies who are repeat offenders who have been told about the behavior time and time again, who carry on bullying and carry on get letting go and being let to be the bully, because they are good at pulling the sales in or while they're a good leader. And actually, no, I think we need to draw a line again, that says, You can't be a good leader, you can't be a good employee. If you're making others around, you feel uncomfortable. If you're negative for the company culture, you aren't meeting every single bit of your job description, so therefore, you should be gone.
Yeah, no, I agree with that. I think, you know, I think one of the biggest things that I would say to managers is don't bury your head in the sand. And if someone has really bad behavior, that is and I don't care if they're the top performer or the top person in the BSS doesn't matter. Like, it doesn't matter. Because what happens if that person is the reason why no one else has been successful, because they don't feel comfortable and safe at the workplace.
Unknown Speaker 57:21
It can have a huge impact.
Yeah. And so at the end of the day, don't bury your head in the sand, let's just say fire them, if they've got if they're repeat offenders, like come on, there's needs to be some, again, action consequences.
Absolutely. Start with education, start with support. You know, let's remember that empathy, the bully maybe has something going on for themselves. So if you can talk to them, if you can offer them help, if you can offer them counseling, even do it. Yeah, and help them change their ways. But if they are just actually horrible people who want to treat other people horribly, why would you want that in your organization?
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I think that that's, um, that's really important to understand as well. Well, I'm just gonna say thank you so much for coming on. But before we j