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My first exposure to an Energy Sucker and bullying behavior was in grade school. It wasn’t another student on the playground, it was my third grade teacher, Miss Harmon. An “old lady,” (probably actually 50), she was known to be mean and harsh to the students. Easily losing her temper, she yelled and humiliated the little kids trying to whip them into submission. She had long, painted nails and if you really annoyed her, she would grab your arm and dig those nails into the skin until there was a pattern of red marks to showcase her wrath.
I experienced her fury when I pulled a brush through my hair one afternoon after recess. She immediately called me to the front of the room and mandated that I brush my hair 100 times in front of the class. Her goal of control on humiliation was accomplished.
I hated her. Not so much because she was mean, but because she took all the joy out of going to school and learning for me. I became bored, disinterested, and disengaged, and spent most of my time eating the white paste from the jar in my desk. I dreaded going to school and frequently stayed home sick, like employees do in a toxic work setting. Much to my relief, I graduated to fourth grade and my problems were solved. I wish other toxic settings were so easy to resolve.
Through the years, I have had many other encounters with bullies. They truly are everywhere; on the road, at work, in restaurants, at movie theatres and even in many families. They elevate their dragging self-esteem by belittling and tormenting others. They cut you off in traffic and then give YOU the finger when they run a red light.
Bullies are rampant in the workplace and it seems to be getting worse. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t share with me a bullying story that happened to them. In every industry, the government, the military, and local neighborhood you find the bullies, eager to make your life miserable.
The older I get, the less I want these people in my life. Like all of us, I don’t know how much time I have left on this good earth and I don’t want to waste it with negative people. I have three criteria for my friends and acquaintances; they must be kind, they must be compassionate and they must be generous. These are the same goals I have for my own behavior and work on it everyday.
The mission of this book and my life effort at this point is really very simple: I want to make workplaces and the world just a bit kinder. If we all were just a little kinder to each other, I believe we could transform the world.
About Barbara Bartlein
Barbara Bartlein is The People Pro. She presents keynotes and training and is an expert in workplace culture. Her new book, Energy Suckers-How to Deal With Bullies in the Workplace is now available. Visit her site for more information.