We asked anti-bullying advocate and expert Deb Falzoi to write a guest blog for us dealing with her experiences as a victim of workplace bullying.
Deb is a role model and a leader who said "NO" to bullying. Deb not only refused to allow bullying control her, she did something and continues to do something about it a decade after being targeted for mistreatment by a superior.
We know Deb's experiences will help others who may currently be dealing with this form of workplace violence realize that you're not alone, that you're not the problem -- the bully is, that bullying does not define you, that there is hope, and above all else that you can take your power back and ultimately lead a better and more meaningful life post-bullying.
Here's Deb's story:
Our friend and colleague Deb Falzoi.
How I took back my life after workplace bullying — to help others do the same by Deb Falzoi:
When I worked at a well-known private university in Boston, I enjoyed my work, built relationships with professors, and received compliments on my work from staff members.
I made sure faculty and staff could trust me so they'd go to me with their news — their research, new programs, and awards — so I could do my job of spreading the word.
But a few months into the job, things started to go south quickly. An assistant dean turned my life upside down.
She tried taking work away from me (with no communication of poor performance), excluded me, fabricated information, gave me contradictory directions, belittled me in meetings, and badmouthed me.
I had trouble sleeping, feared her next move, and felt bitter that MY character was brought into question to those not involved with the situation— not hers.
I met with the head dean about the problem, but he simply told me that issues “would work themselves out.”
That's when the bully's revenge began. She gave me a formal written warning for not following procedures — that were never established — for swapping out a website news story. That's right — for simply changing content that was never before an issue or communicated to be one, my entire livelihood was on the line. I was at the mercy of her power trip.
This time I met with Human Resources, who defended her. The head dean then responded via e-mail that someone would be hired under her to complete the project not based on my competence but as a way to resolve issues.
One month before I left the job, I notified the Provost's office of the mistreatment. The issue went ignored. I felt disrespected, worn out, useless, and humiliated. I worried about when I'd lose my job. I was walking on thin ice with my career, health, and financial well-being. I was miserable.
I worked my tail off, but her insecurities and thirst for power won. Was it really happening? How could it possibly be that someone who walked from office to office gossiping about employees and who showed little knowledge of how to manage had more protections than someone who cared about performing well and the organization's success?
Something wasn't adding up.
So I researched and researched until I finally discovered the term "workplace bullying." It was exactly what was happening to me. An incompetent, unethical bully was given full reign to bully a competent, ethical employee: me.
That was ten years ago.
Since then, I've been on a crusade to make workplace bullying illegal — and to help others take on the battle, too.
(Note: Listen to Deb advocating for the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Bill in the following videos:)
Along the way, I've learned how workplace bullying works, why it's allowed to happen, what works and doesn't work (and what I wish I had done better when I was bullied), and how to take my life back after moving from one mediocre situation to another. I shared my discoveries with others going through similar bullying situations through our Facebook page to pass the workplace anti-bullying legislation.
From time to time, I'd read comments that put more wind in my sails: someone quit their job from learning to empower themselves on our Facebook page or someone used language I taught them online to boost their confidence and realize they weren't the problem.
I knew I'd never feel justice battling the big organization. They'd deplete my energy, finances, and health, if I didn't die along the way. But I'd feel justice by building the masses of people who could stand up and say enough was enough. We could change the law.
I've discovered this work is my life purpose. I developed a class to teach others how to take back their power. I teach targets how to take back what's rightfully theirs: dignity and respect. I give them the tools they need to take their confidence back. Ultimately, I show them how to focus on the big picture so they can steer the ship when it comes to living their lives.
Targets can take back their power, too. by fighting for change in their state legislatures.
Deb Falzoi has spent 20 years in marketing and communications.
She builds awareness for the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill and has recently started the organization Dignity Together to help empower workplace bullying targets, educate therapists on workplace bullying, and teach managers how to create healthy workplaces and better bottom lines. To learn more bout Dignity Together visit the organiztion's website: https://dignitytogether.org/
Visit www.HealthyWorkplaceBill.org for more information about what's happening in your state and to get involved or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get started.