Let me tell you something .... I believe in the Patch Adams (you might have seen the movie, go and get the book as well) theory of healing through humour. I also believe art in any forms heals. I don't speak from books or imagination but ... I've been there. I left a bullying environment 8 years ago and an article I came across earlier today made me dig through my blogs and decide to republish something I posted on this topic. It is clear to me that old, bad habits die hard and bullying in the civil service is still going strong. Probably many still suffer in silence, taking their daily anti depressants, abusing their bodies and souls in all sorts of ways ... desperate to survive a hostile environment. I simply want to tell you that .. I hear you, I understand you .. I've been there. Below you will hear my voice (as it was at the time), my way of illustrating the way I was being bullied, the sort of workplace situation I faced daily. I would like to inspire you, the one who suffers to write your story, to look for humour, to paint, express what you feel creatively, get the support of your union rep and make plans to get out of there fast. It helps! It really does! So let me say it again ..... what helped me at the time was my union and my union rep. The story below has been shared at the time with the top man in the organisation I worked in and was part of my defence as ... yes I did complain (I encourage you to speak up) about the abuse I was suffering and yes again I faced the managers asking for justice. Yep I received apologises and so on but this is another story ...
So here we go, this is how the whole situation felt like ... of course in a ... different setting:
" The western front, april 1943 ...
The war in Europe is reaching a climax. There have been battles but the big spring offensive is being planned by military command. Plans are having to be changed as our scouts bring more intelligence from the field and the timing of the offensive is being delayed because of other issues in the theatre of war. The Colonel (my manager's manager) responsible for the central push of our army is highly experienced, is calm under fire and has a clear view of military priorities.
One of his brigade commanders has retired and, pending the arrival of the new commander, the colonel shortens the chain of command, dealing directly with 1st Company under the control of a Polish Lieutenant (me) a structural engineer by training, who fought in the ice and floods of the Eastern Front against the Russians - and dealing directly with 2nd Company under the control of an experienced officer.
The Polish Lieutenant was well trained (this was carefully assessed at training camp by the excellent recruitment team lead by General E) and the Lieutenant has got to know his men well. His men (agencies, press, events) are located in different pockets across the planned front with his support close behind. 1st Company has a well researched battle plan that has been approved by the Colonel and General Command. The chain of command is understood and his men, all experienced army fighting men, are charged with preparing their own units for battle.
The Lieutenant takes a well trained leave to sunny Tripoli.
While he is away, a young Captain (My new manager) arrives to takes command of the brigade. The Colonel briefs him on how important to the success of the war is the planned central push of 1st Company. The Captain recognises this treat to his reputation and responds by taking day to day control of 1st Company (my team), explaining to the men that he is now in charge, without explaining why - unfortunately he did not tell the Lieutenant (me) this on his return from leave and, as a consequence, one of the worst things followed that can happen to an army in battle, there was complete confusion, with the Lieutenant issuing orders and the new Captain issuing other orders.
Gradually it dawned on the Lieutenant what was happening - but it was too late. His position with his men had been undermined and he looked silly in front of them. The new Captain signalled to the Lieutenant (me sitting next to him) that he, the Captain, is now in direct command of 1st Company and that he (me) is therefore demoted to Sergeant without clear portfolio.
The Captain's first acts are to ridicule the Sergeant's placing and equipment of 1st Company's left flank platoon, the first of many many similar criticisms. He commands the Sergeant to move and re-equip the platoon. The Sergeant points out to the Captain, who was once again not listening, that the men on the left flank were there for a good reason. The Captain repeated again and again, that the positioning and heavy equipment of the left flank platoon was all wrong, that he knows better -they should be facing the other way.
Again and again the Sergeant pointed out that there was a good reason for the heavy night sight rifles and their location. The Captain was not interested because it was all wrong in his opinion - finally the Sergeant was able to make it clear to the Captain that forward scouting intelligence had reported that the enemy was camped just in front of the men, behind the privet hedge waiting to attack - which is why the Colonel and General Command has approved the forward position of the left flank platoon and a night attack.
The Captain fell silent as he thought of other battle planning issues to criticise as he liked to do this, he liked to criticise, that's what he had been told that officers do. The situation was repeated time and time again. Unfortunately this constant criticism meant that the Sergeant could not lead his men who were depending on him for new battle instructions."
....... TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW