November 11, 2005
I know it's not real healthy to isolate ourselves when we are having problems. But it is a natural mode of self-protection. When we are having difficulties, we don't want to share them with other people because of a fear of being seen as somehow 'less,' or 'weaker.' We don't want to air our 'dirty' laundry. So we keep things inside and isolate ourselves from that kind of pain.
Some people are lucky to have really close friends who provide a certain amount of safety when confiding in each other. They may not even realize how healthy this is. One of the problems we have in society is that there are too many people facing challenges alone while surrounded by people. Feeling alone while facing problems is disheartening and isolating. I think in our society we have it backwards. We think that it is courageous to face our internal struggles and fears alone, while putting on a front that there are no problems. Putting on a face that says, "I'm in control." But it is fear of rejection and scorn that keeps our troubles inside. It takes great courage to share our inner-most fears and problems and weaknesses with others. And isn't that the only way we not feel 'alone?'
Going into the confession booth at church was never supposed to mean 'confess your sins and be forgiven' but was a safe way to let out our inner troubles and share them with someone else, someone tangible who will not chide us and condemn, ridicule or think less of us. In safely confessing to someone tangible we gain a sense of not being alone in the struggle. And there are always struggles in life. If you look at confession in this light you can see how beneficial this can be. Confession at church is just an example of course, because a sister, brother, long-time friend, mom, dad, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. can all provide a sense of not facing the world alone.
But it's hard. It's so hard sometimes that we find it easier to just keep it all inside. That is not brave. It's being alone.
I find comfort in knowing that I am never alone. I know that God is always present, always listening and understanding and I can share my problems and struggles. In one respect it's like confession. We can talk to God and God listens and we know that someone else is privy to our inner-most-thoughts and struggles and we are not alone. Of course you have to not only believe in God for this to be useful to you, but also believe that God is always with us and always listening and real, tangible. Otherwise we might as well confess to the rock. We are still alone. Belief in this way is not just 'thinking' something is true, but also feeling and knowing it's true by experience. And like any relationship, we cannot truly know and experience each other without communicating and sharing our inner-self with each other. So our relationship with God is the same way. We have to build it and get to know God and feel God's presences in our life, deepening our understanding of each other and not being alone.
Right now I am facing some serious and troubling things in life. For instance I'm dealing with a couple of self-centered, ego driven people who have disdain for other people and their ideas of working together. They are very vocal and accusatory also. It's difficult to share these kinds of struggles with anyone because first of all I am choosing to be involved in this. I could walk away from it, but to me that's not a good solution. When things get really bad, that's when help is really needed. So I try to figure out how to deal with these problems, first internally, then with the understanding and help of others, including God. Sharing with others some internal struggles like how to deal with people like this can be frightening. I see the problems in the bike shop, but we are dealing with live, breathing human beings and pointing those problems out can be seen as complaining and making waves. It is fearful to be seen as a trouble maker. But I only want to make things better for all the people involved, not tear things down. So I turn this all over and over in my mind and heart and it agitates and stirrs my emotions. Sometimes I am very hopeful and sometimes it's downright depressing. Like when someone comes in and throws a temper tantrum and thinks that's an ok way to treat others. Or like the other day when Dave was in the coffee shop next door making an espresso, this other person made a comment that was totally rude and humiliating toward Dave. He said, "Are you going to run the coffee shop like you run the bike shop?" This is disheartening to me. The person making these comments does not understand what he's doing to other human beings and doesn't see anything wrong with what he's doing. He will feel like he's the best thing since sliced bread and no-one else can do things better, all the while being petty and self-centered. I have to share this with someone to know I am not alone in thinking this person is making some bad choices in how to treat other people. That person has an attitude of tearing down other people instead of helping and building up. I talked to God about how to handle this situation and the response from God is a peace inside that I'm going in the right direction and to hang in there, I'm doing the right thing in defending the mocked and the belittled members of our group. The strength of any team is in how they treat their most vulnerable members. This answer from God is very comforting and in the following example God expands the answer.
At work I'm dealing with a sticky situation right now. I have an abusive boss who will use his position of authority to intimidate and belittle others to maintain power and control. This is the same boss who has made several of his employees cry in meetings and has had a negative impact on the moral of our department. Last week he gave me a written reprimand for being 'non-communicative' and not working with him. He stated some lies in the reprimand and wrote that if I don't change, it will lead to my termination. He doesn't realize that he is abusing his position nor the psychological damage he's doing to the whole department. I'm filing a grievance and may end up losing my job over this, because I don't think it's right what he's doing. He doesn't see anything wrong and feels justified in what he's doing. I only hear positive feedback about my contributions to my coworkers and other activities I'm involved in at work, so I don't think it's me that is a problem. He creates an atmosphere of fear and abuse and then tries to fire me for not being cooperative. I am cooperating, with my coworkers and the law. But who do I share this struggle with? Thankfully there are people at work that I trust and understand. God is also with me and I'm thankful for the peace and understanding. I have to keep tightening the binds that hold things together, and do the things that are good and right and helpful to the one's that are being abused and diminished in value. Not tear down, but build others up. Treat others with dignity and respect and love. You can see why it's so tough to share feelings and expose ours inner-struggles. I still feel like I could end up losing my job by standing up for myself and the others in my department, but I can't let this bully continue his phsychological tryanny. Every day I listen to my coworkers complain about our boss. So where does this leave me? If I continue to allow it happen I lose my soul, and what does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls? Keeping my job doesn't seem nearly as important. He went after several of my coworkers, and the last time I stepped in. Now he is after me and trying to make me look bad and fire me. I am deeply saddened by this. I will continue to be a friend and help to those most vulnerable at work and I am a little afraid of having to go out and find another job. I don't want to. I shouldn't have to. But it may come to that. I accept that. It's ugly though and this is why it's so easy to feel alone in this struggle. Why do people have to be such jerks? It doesn't gain them love or acceptance and their power is short lived. I know God understands.
Posted by carl1236 at November 11, 2005 1:26 PM | Attitude
It's a brave thing you're doing, filing a grievance. Especially since others are being hurt, but they may not be in a strong enough financial or emotional position to make a stand.
Document everything he does that is wrong before you file so you have hard some evidence to start off with. Good luck.
Posted by: Pete at November 11, 2005 6:19 PM
Thank you Pete. On Monday We all have a meeting, Union, Me, Management representative, My boss. We will see what happens. I hope that things get better. But who knows? I have to keep focusing now on doing the best thing I can. Thanks again for your encouraging words! It made my day!
Posted by: John at November 13, 2005 12:20 AM
I know it may be a little late for this, but check your state laws on audio recording. In most states, as long as at least one person involved in the conversation is aware that the conversation is being recorded, then the audio can be used as legal evidence. If that guy is making people cry at meetings, no mater how much he tries to justify it, a tape will whistle a different tune. That kind of abuse only hurts your company and may be grounds for his legal termination. Start keeping a micro-cassette recorder handy. It may seem back handed or sneaky, but if your manager is getting away with abuse, then it becomes quite justified. Some Managers love to use the fear tactic, it's a easy way to boost their ego and is generally a learned trait. Some managers will reprimand a employee once and feel great for the rest of the day. The next few days, something is missing, until a employee messes up again. Then he is able to reprimand and make himself feel good again. Eventually this habit starts to stick and the manager will actually start LOOKING for things to write people up about. That's how sadistic people get their kicks, they find a way to hurt people that they can get away with, and they do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Eventually his employees are so paranoid about their work, they unintentionally start messing up, creating more opportunities for write ups, reprimands, or whatever. Naturally, this has a negative impact on productivity, communication, and ultimately turnover rate. These people have no place being managers, they deserve to work behind the counter of a gas station for a few years. It sounds to me like the writer of this blog would make a vastly superior manager to the one he describes. Good managers can be firm when they need to be, but are also your friends when you need help.
Posted by: Matthew at November 30, 2005 12:47 PM
It's not too late! Thank you so much for your advice. This whole process seems to be dragging out and nothing is being resolved. But I can totally see what you are talking about in his personality. It's no coincidence that no-one in our department really has a problem with managing their time but our boss has disciplined 4 out of the 5 employees for minor time-related incidents, like coming back late from lunch one day. Everyone in our department actually puts in more hours than claimed because of the nature of our work. Yet he's not consistent and only does it when he feels the need to feel some power over someone else. One person received a reprimand and refused to sign it. It went into her personel file stating she refused to sign it. It's very interesting to read your comments about the use of 'discipline.' I think eventually everything will backfire on him but the question I have is how much suffering will he inflict before that happens? Anyway, thanks for your comments. It was very good to read right now. I appreciate it.
Posted by: John at November 30, 2005 4:23 PM
Opening up and letting us know how you feel is a sign of intimacy and trust. It is healing for you and positive for those around you. set your boundaries and keep the faith
Posted by: paula at December 7, 2005 8:50 PM
Thanks Paula. Finally, today a written grievance was filed. My position at work is a Union supported job, so there is a formal grievance processs that has to be followed. Each stage has a time limit of 14 days for the other party to respond. In stage one, the informal meetings take place to try to resolve the conflict. We had one meeting and my boss and a management representative were very harsh and gave myself and my union rep one option. It was very one sided. After leaving that meeting we discussed what to do and decided we had a better option. We made a good proposal that involved a third party mediator to help us work out the problems we were having, and the response we got was a very short letter that said "We were unable to resolve this during stage one" (We had one meeting and they did not want to continue talking nor did they want a third party to step in and help resolve the problems) and we should move on to stage two, a formal written grievance, filed with my boss' supervisor. So that went in today. Now he has 14 days to respond to the formal written grievance. It's not really a good process, but It's something and in this case I'm glad that the process is there to follow. It gives a formal method to follow. But realistically, my grievance is only fighting the contents of the written reprimand I received and not solving the underlying issues, which if unresolved will eventually cause problems again. My boss is a bully. So the troubles are not over unless he changes.
So now I'm calming down and some of the stress is lowered. I have to wait now to see what my boss's supervisor does. I can only take this one step at a time. I don't know. It's a very strange position to be in.
But there is one good thing. It reminded me of what's important in life. Also I don't fear losing my job anymore. So now I am free to tell the truth and stand by it no matter where it leads. Worry and fear do not help resolve the problems any faster. I'll be ok now.
Thanks again for your great comments and thoughts.
Posted by: John at December 7, 2005 11:08 PM
You are brave to confront this man. Bully is too nice a term for people like that, psychopath is more accurate. People who have that much power and control over others are very dangerous and sometimes all it takes is one brave person to confront them to bring them down to reality. I hope this all goes well for you, John. I've been lazy about reading blogs lately and am just trying to catch up now! I'm glad you are not afraid of losing your job, as sometimes that lack of fear is exactly what someone needs to make a change. Good luck and I'll keep reading to find out how things go!!
ROCK HARD :)
Posted by: RR at December 8, 2005 11:19 AM
:-) You Rock Ramona! Thanks!
Posted by: John at December 8, 2005 11:23 PM
Hey- you're so right about the self isolation thing. I feel like i've destroyed what friendships I did have because I don't reach out or have the energy to reach out. I feel trapped inside my own little world. I hear you on the idiot boss thing to. I find that there is always someone willing to abuse others in order to feel better about themselves. I have had some nasty bosses too. Bad bosses tend to think they get work from you by not being nice. They think that being you're friend or being nice is a no no when in reality a good employee will try harder for someone they respect who is in charge. Brian
Posted by: brian at July 13, 2006 2:39 PM