Monday, August 4, 2014

The most important piece of advice I've received so far

Today, I want to share with you the most important piece of advice I've received so far. But let me tell you a bit of the story being it.

As a teenager, I have been bullied by several people and for different reasons. I tried to get it to stop by telling the adults around me, but revenge happened and I didn't want to seek help with the grownups on that matter anymore. It eventually died out on itself the next year when having different classmates.

Then it happened again, as a young adult, within the company I was working for at the time. It lasted until I had an insightful chat with my mum. She is a shrink and we often chat about our days, what went well or not. She is very easy to talk to, but I sometimes struggle to open up to her (for no reason as she won’t judge me or love me less).

So one evening, I was venting about this colleague I was in training with, who has said mean things to me and was always looking for my attention and being a pain in the neck. I was expecting something along the line of “my poor darling”, but that never happened. My mum looked at me in the eyes and told me calmly that my behavior towards that person was responsible for being bullied. That I was responsible.

Obviously, I was speechless and quite shocked. I changed subject and reflected on it, until a mentoring session I had a few days later. I explained the situation and the piece of advice I have been given. My mentor told me to stand straight, to ask for the respect I was due and to make sure it wouldn't hurt me.

The next training session, I tried my best to do what I was told. It actually came more naturally than I thought and made me feel so good, so strong. The bullying stopped almost instantly.

That lady seemed to be so confident, I envied her for it. She could easily voice her opinions, questions and doubts in front of everyone without ever looking nervous (she is a true extrovert). In reality, she is as insecure as I am, maybe more.

I understood then that the louder the person is, the less confident they are in reality. That confidence is all about appearances: if you look confident, people will assume you are and treat you differently. So next time you meet someone who is very loud in their general behavior, or maybe a bit intimidating, keep in mind it is only for appearances: they are most certainly as insecure as you are and are just better at hiding it than you.

I have since become friend with that lady and have weekly catch up calls with her. Now, I know how to stop that kind of behavior:
  • Make sure your bully knows they don’t affect you,
  • Stand proud: you are beautiful, strong and can do and be what you want,
  • If you are bullied at work, ask for the respect you are due (they have a lot more to lose than you!)
  • Don’t let their “confidence” fool you: they make mistakes like everyone else and may not be who they seem.

We never talked about how she made me feel. I think I will sometimes, so she can learn from her mistakes and stop that kind of behavior, as I’m sure most of it was unintentional.