When the Bully Boss Intrudes at Home

A majority of the working world does their work from home. When we were all sent to the safety of our homes at the start of the COVID pandemic last year, organizations rushed to find a way to ensure the work would still get done. And a lot of them succeeded.

But there was an unforeseen consequence to the shift to the remote world: inviting the Bully Boss into your home.

A Bully Boss is one of the most challenging bullies people can face in their lives. They’re mean and ruthless, unafraid to point out a person’s flaws to the largest audience possible without offering any guidance into how improvements can be made. They’re loud, they scream and they’re quick to anger. They can be manipulative and love to point the finger instead of accepting blame or admitting mistakes.

Though this sounds like any type of bully, the big difference in a schoolyard bully and a Bully Boss is this: they have a direct impact on your ability to make a living.

For this reason, many people just grin and bear it, pushing through the mental beating day after day because they need the paycheck. And they look forward to the end of the day when they can escape to the restorative place they call home. Some would call this a hostile workplace.

When you work for a Bully Boss, your home becomes your safe haven, your sanctuary, the place where you can escape from their wrath and get refocused and re-energized before the next day.

But now that you work at home? Your Bully Boss has direct access to you any time they want. They’ve intruded into your safe space, erasing the line you precariously drew to keep work and life separate for your mental wellbeing.

So how do you manage the Bully Boss when your safe haven is now your workspace?

Here are 3 ways to shift your mindset to manage the presence of the Bully Boss in your home.

1. Find your voice.
Up until now, actively trying to avoid the Bully Boss, especially if they were having a particularly bad day, became almost an office game. Just like buzzword bingo, the game created a sense of unity with those you worked with. People would tell you where the Bully Boss was headed or where they were so you could take the long way around. You knew to keep your head down and avoid eye contact.

But now, when the Bully Boss wants you, there’s no hiding. They have direct access to you. They can email you repeatedly, ping you on a messenger app or use Zoom for face-to-face discussions. There’s little escape here. This may seem particularly daunting, especially when you lose your squad; no one has insight into who the Bully Boss will zoom in on next.

But when you’re at home, you’re able to tap into a unique strength: your space. You can decide how you will and won’t be treated in your own home. Use this as your launching pad to decide the type of language and behavior you expect in your home and embody it. Use it to find your voice.

This doesn’t necessarily mean telling them off. Start small. Recognize the tone you’re using and the words you choose to use. Keep your language positive and upbeat. Lean into that restorative energy your home provides to use your voice in a productive way. Sometimes, that positive shift in your voice unintentionally boosts your confidence and can easily rub off on those around you.

2. Take control of your image.
I mean this literally. Since so many organizations rely on Zoom and other video chat options to engage with each other face-to-face, take control of the image you want your Bully Boss – and other colleagues – to see. When you dial into a video call, you know everyone looks at the image behind you, so think ahead: what do you want them to see? Whether it’s your home office organized or decorated a certain way, or even just a personalized background image, take control of the image you project. Similar to your word choice and tone, knowing you control your image can also create a confidence boost, letting you show up stronger and more engaged, regardless of what the Bully Boss might be throwing your way.

3. You don’t live with them.
At the end of the day, it’s all about perspective. Yes, they are still your boss and yes, they have intruded on your private space. But here’s the great silver lining: you don’t live with them. You can log off and walk away from your desk with the peace of mind that they don’t live there. If nothing else, this should give you an instant boost in morale and confidence that you can control just how much they see of your space and how much you’re willing to let their behavior impact you in your own home.

Though these tips are helpful to manage your response and approach to dealing with a Bully Boss, sometimes, your physical and mental health are threatened and you requires an intentional next step: be prepared to make a change if necessary. It all comes down to your physical, mental and emotional health. Remember the adage, “people quit people before they quit companies.” If you like working at your company, determine if you can transfer to a different department or team. If you’re looking for a completely fresh start, create a list of potential organizations that would be a fit for you and start exploring new options.

You are worth the support, care and encouragement of a great boss. You never should put up with a bully – anywhere in life – but particularly in the workplace.

Do you work for a Bully Boss? Take our quiz to find out.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up

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Confidence in a COVID World

Man, the world is weird right now. Sure, we’ve all laughed at the ever-changing guidelines, the uncertainty around existing guidelines and which ones to follow, and how our world will never be the same (perhaps it’s a coping mechanism, but I digress). We’ve wondered when – or if – we’ll ever be able to go somewhere without masks. We’ve been uncertain about whether we’d be comfortable leaving the house without masks. We’ve had nightmares about loved ones losing their battle to the virus. We’ve been worried we might get it ourselves.

But then things seem to settle and life goes on. You create new routines. You get into a new groove. And just when you think you get a handle on things, something changes again. You lose control of the situation, again.

It’s hard to stay positive and confident in a COVID world.

Let me tell you a story that put a lot of this into perspective.

My middle son was talking to my Mom on the phone. As is the norm now, it was a video chat, so he was walking around with the phone, showing her what he was playing with and talking about what he was going to do for the rest of the day. My Mom asked him if he would like to play at her house soon. He paused for the briefest of moments as he looked at me and said, “I’d like to, but we have to wear masks so we don’t get sick… it’s probably better if I just stay home for now. I think it makes more sense to just be home.”

I felt so many emotions. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Pride.

Never when I dreamed of being a mom, of raising my children, did I ever think of parenting in a pandemic and what that would feel like for me (as a parent) or my kids. Never did I think about the impact these rules and guidelines would have on such young kids. Never did it even occur to me that, despite the constant touch points with grandparents and friends and family through video chats and phone calls, relationships would be forever changed.

But perhaps the biggest realization is that through all of this, I noticed all of my boys were showing up confident to the world they live in. They are working on discovering their strengths and flexing those what-else-can-I-try muscles. I was seeing their resilience, their ability to move with whatever life was sending them.

Though my heart broke hearing him talk about the need for masks and how it’s safer to just stay home, my heart was equally as proud. He was confident and adaptable. He didn’t see it as a problem or a challenge; life is what it is.

And this little boy continues to remind me that there is so much to learn from kids who have yet to be negatively influenced with the anxiety and fear that seems to fill an adult’s mind.

The confidence we choose to have each day, the way we decide to show up in every aspect of our lives, is so easily impacted by external forces.

But what if we decided, instead, to adapt to change and not fight it? To acknowledge when we can and can’t control a situation and to manage ourselves and our response to it? Life never promises an easy road. It does, however, give us plenty of opportunities to use strengths we never knew we had.

So, to be confident in a COVID world means recognizing what you do and don’t have control over. It’s about committing to being yourself and knowing that you are already equipped with everything you need to navigate life’s road, the smooth ones and the bumpy ones.

Take Action

When you find yourself getting frustrated that things are still not “back to normal,” take a deep breath and ask yourself: is this something I can control? If it is, then ask yourself: what can I do to fix it?

If it’s not within your control, ask yourself: how can I learn to be flexible, resilient and not fight with life?

Your confidence will grow as you learn to appreciate life as it is, celebrating the good times and using the tough times to grow, learn and develop into a stronger, wiser and more resilient you.

By Kristin Allaben

Continue reading A Lesson from Kids: Finding the Good

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When “I Quit” is the Best Thing to Do

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” But sometimes, a situation operates firmly in the gray area; you’re not sure what the “right” thing to do is because it’s not as clear cut as you would hope it to be. So, you may find yourself hanging on to a situation because of a promise you made, fear of letting go, fear of failure, or the nagging memory of the phrase “quitters never win.”

And this is a mentality taught to young kids, too. Though done with good intention, kids are often taught not to quit when things get tough, to stay focused and work through frustrations – but the lesson often stops there. There’s often little discussion, if any, about what is too hard, too frustrating, too damaging. Of what comes after the line has been crossed. When it’s ok to say “I quit.”

There’s lots to unwrap here, but I want to focus primarily on the action of letting go because this is an important distinction. I think many of us believe “I quit” translates to “I give up.” But I think it also lends itself to mean “this is enough” or “I’m letting go now.”

I came across a powerful image that really resonated with me (see right). Can you relate? I certainly could. There have been more than a few situations in my life where letting go was the better decision, even though it took a lot of strength and confidence to first admit it to myself before I could make that move. For example, I took a job that was not directly aligned to my abilities thinking it would be an opportunity to grow and try new things. It was, however, the opposite. With little guidance and a challenging management system, I was looking for a way out after just three months. But, I convinced myself that leaving a job after three months would reflect poorly on me and my career history; no one would take me seriously if I left a job after just 90 days – that’s barely enough time for the traditional three-month review for new employees!

So, I stuck it out. And got sick. Very sick. The stress of the job did some significant damage both mentally and physically. The final straw came on Thanksgiving Eve, approximately nine months after I took the job. And that’s when I quit. Within 1 week, I felt better. And 1 month after that, I was back to my normal self.

Think about the thankless and unhealthy relationships you have been in, and how long it took to finally quit. Think about the workplace when you held onto a low performing employee, who, after much coaching and a lot of support time, still choose to do as little as possible in the job. Think about the unprofessional or inappropriate advances that another person makes toward you and you just think it’s part of how things are done.

In the end, quitting the job, the relationship, the workplace may be the best thing for you. But to get there, you have to first allow yourself to realize that there’s a line between giving up and letting go. You have to decide where that line is.

Take Action
Think about a situation you are currently in that you may find frustrating or challenging. Imagine how you want things to be instead. Now, how will you get from where you are to where you want to be? What action(s) will be required to make that dream a reality?

Parents – consider talking to your children about what is too hard, too frustrating or too damaging. Help them understand when quitting is ok and not ok. Help them define their line between giving up and letting go.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Learning How to Be Self-Managed

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The Imposter in the Room (it’s not you)

Raise your hand if you ever feel like you don’t belong for some reason. You’re not smart enough. You don’t work hard enough. You are just lucky and don’t deserve to be here.

Sound familiar?

This is called Imposter Syndrome. It is strikingly powerful and very real. I can recall a few instances in my life when I thought, “this was just luck; it has nothing to do with me.”

I watched a TED-Ed video recently about Imposter Syndrome and the closing line was, in my opinion, the most powerful and should become everyone’s mantra: “you have talent, you are capable, and you belong.”

As coaches, we work with clients to build confidence, to realize that life is what it is and it’s up to you to make it what you want it to be. Many times, the lack of confidence or self-doubt our clients experience is rooted in the Imposter Syndrome, frequently the result of their individual performance blocks.

Feeling like an imposter is real, but it can be quickly managed when you do the following two things:

  1. Check in on your abilities. Stop and notice three things that you are good at in whatever it is that is challenging you. With this awareness, you can negate the feeling of being an imposter when you see how capable you are.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. If you spend your life comparing, you will reach for things that are the gifts of others, causing you to look past your own gifts. The only thing you should ever compare is your current performance to your potential.

The next time you feel yourself questioning whether you’re worth it, or if you belong, Stop and Notice. Consider why you feel this way. Is it rooted in truth? Or is it your belief? You may find that one of the most frequent reasons why you feel like an imposter is because you’re comparing yourself to others.

Take Action
If you have 15 minutes to spare, I strongly encourage you to watch the TEDtalk “Do you ever feel like you’re not enough?” It is a thought-provoking presentation that brings up things we encourage our clients to think about, as well. And when it’s done, Stop and Notice. What’s working in your life and where is change or improvement needed? Consider the actions you can take to make a change and choose one – just one – action you can start to implement to move toward your change.

Having some trouble getting started? Contact us.

Still not convinced it’s not something everyone experiences? Check out this article by Beth Monaghan, CEO and Co-Founder of Inkhouse, an integrated PR firm, in which she shares her own experience with Imposter Syndrome.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider watching Being Uniquely You

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Find Your Voice. Be the Change.

By Jay Forte

Over the weekend of March 24-25, 2018, millions of people – led by student activists –walked, marched and carried signs demanding greater and saner gun laws. It took a series of horrific events to unify them into a formidable powerhouse, focused on inspiring change.

This is a learning experience on a number of levels. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on action. On taking a stand. On finding your voice. On becoming the change you want to see in your world.

Too many of us sit back and wait for others to step up and take action on issues or situations that are important to us. But there are so many places in your day where you have the ability to define what you stand for and then actually stand up for what you believe. It can be something seemingly simple like developing the technology rules for your house to manage your kids’ connection time. It can be something a little more challenging, like standing up to a bully at school or at work (yes, there is actually more bullying going on in the workplace than at schools). It can be something that is deeply important to you, like mobilizing to do something about the sugar in our foods or the number of plastic water bottles floating in our oceans.

So what stops us?

  1. Fear. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of reprisal. Fear of being ostracized. Fear for our job. We play out stories of what could happen to us if we post how we really feel about something on Facebook or Twitter, or what could happen if we speak out about something we don’t think is right at our workplace, church or in our community. We are afraid to challenge the status quo, even when the status quo is outdated, unreasonable and needs changing.
  2. Lack of self-awareness. Many of us don’t know our talents, strengths and abilities. We fail to see how capable we are, that we have what it takes to stand up, use our voice and look to make things better. Because we don’t know how capable we are, we doubt ourselves and yield to the louder voices around us. This keeps us quiet and overlooking things instead of taking a stand to support, defend, challenge or resist. Developing your self-awareness helps you find your inner greatness and values that become your voice as you look at your world and hold yourself accountable to making a difference.

I applaud the student movement that sees the value of life as a greater value than having automatic weapons – and for having the courage, the confidence and the resilience to demand something better, share what they think and hold us all accountable – for taking a stand. Whether you agree or disagree with their message, they are holding themselves accountable for being the change.

As Winston Churchill said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

When you get tapped by an event, person or circumstance, will you step up or step back? Will you raise your voice or go down to a whisper?

The world is built by the people who are right here, right now. Stand up for what you think is right. Commit to what makes the world a better, happier, kinder, more loving and safer place. Then find your role in it and take a stand. You could be the one who changes things for the better.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one thing you can do today to start to raise your voice on a situation, issue or event that matters to you?
  2. How can you become more self-aware to recognize the places where your voice can and should be heard?
  3. How can you hold yourself accountable for being the change on an issue that matters to you?

 

Consider reading Experience Isn’t Your Enemy

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