By guest blogger Mazarine Treyz
This guest post is part of the CONNECT2Lead Series on Dignifying Others. To see the other stories in this series, click here. A special thank you to each guest blogger for contributing to the CONNECT! Community discussion about the importance of dignifying others.
Have you ever had a bad boss?
If you work in an at-will environment and have little to no respect shown for your efforts, you are not alone.
How did we get to a place where dignity has no place in the workplace?
It’s not about us versus them. We have to start with ourselves.
Why do we have these kinds of bosses and workplaces?
Why do we accept that lack of dignity and respect at work is the way things have to be?
Well, it starts young, in our public school system. John Taylor Gatto, voted teacher of the year in 1994 by New York City Public School Systems, says in his book A Different Kind of Teacher that in all of his 30 years of teaching, there were 6 lessons that he REALLY taught. He writes,
The first lesson I teach is: “Stay in the class where you belong.” “Know your place”The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. The lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything?
The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. You do not have any rights.
The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. Fortunately there are procedures to break the will of those who resist.
In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer’s measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.
In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance.
What was my bad boss doing? He was screwing around with one of our volunteers. He was asking me to watch his children for him. He was printing out thousands of leaflets for his kids’ school on the nonprofit photocopier. He was stealing money from the nonprofit. He constantly criticized how I dressed, and his attitude about me got worse and worse. He also made fun of me if I went home before 7 pm at night.
So, you know, not the most respectful situation in the world.
All I did was my job. I dressed appropriately. I got along with co-workers. I came into work on time. And I stayed late a lot. But he was still not satisfied. He made my workplace environment an awful place to be. I got so resentful that I would start to breathe fast and get angry if I even saw his car in the parking lot when I got to work.
His bossing got worse. He would scream at me for not doing enough work, even though I was bringing in more money than the agency had seen in several years. For example, his charity event before I came on made $150,000. Then I helped him make $250,000 the year I was there. I put together a career fair that made $25,000 the first year, and $35,000 the second year. And the grants that the agency got went from practically nothing to $120,000 in the year I was there. I got the nonprofit free TV media coverage. And yet he still did not want to say anything nice about me. But I kept taking this bad situation, instead of leaving. Why?
I was trying to “know my place” by not taking my concerns to his superiors earlier.
My boss wanted to control me and others in the office. He would try to take people down at meetings instead of building them up.
I was supposed to surrender to the chain of command, no matter how unprofessional my boss was.
My boss wanted my self respect to be based on his approval.
My boss was fearful, manipulative and controlling.
He used people as scapegoats, and ganged up on people in the office one by one.
After I left, things went downhill for the agency. He was caught stealing once, and they let it go. Then he was caught stealing again, throwing the agency into a tailspin. He was fired. The agency let go of many staff and most of their programs. Their big government grant got taken away. And things got worse and worse.
What I took from this whole situation is perfectly summed up in this quote by Steve Havelka.
“The modern workplace isn’t just hostile to those of us with dreams or a creative spirit, the modern workplace has become hostile to those of us who want to be human.” -Steve Havelka
After this experience, I found the book, The Battle Between Somebodies and Nobodies by Judith Ann Wambach. This book helped me find the tools to heal from this experience.
Now I believe that when we can name an experience, we can claim it, and we can start to turn a situation around.
I decided to make an app based on this book and the Dignitarian movement. It’s called The Stop Workplace Bullying App. And I’d love to hear what you think of it. It gives you names to the treatment you may be experiencing. And it gives some tools that you can use to fight back against bullying at work.
Mazarine Treyz is the author of three five-star rated books, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media, and Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide. Her company, Wild Woman Fundraising, was founded in 2009 to help people change the world through fundraising and workplace empowerment. She believes that speaking your truth is the most wild thing you can do-and it is what can be the scariest thing in a workplace situation. She has spoken out about workplace dignity in places like the Center for Nonprofits in Austin Texas, Willamette Valley Development Officers, and many other places. Join 30,000 monthly readers to learn more about workplace empowerment and fundraising at http://wildwomanfundraising.com.