Voices

Bully article strikes a nerve

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It was so interesting to read and hear reactions to last week’s cover feature on bullying in the workplace.

While the majority of readers wanted to share their own stories of demeaning encounters with terrible bosses, a few reacted in a completely unexpected and curious way.

I heard from several people at different companies who were concerned the examples used were somehow aimed at them, and from employees who assumed it was their manager in the spotlight. After assuring the bosses they were not the template for the examples, I did suggest that if they saw themselves in the descriptions, it might be time for some self-reflection or managerial training before HR brings down the hammer.

One anonymous manager was so convinced that she was being used as an example of a bully that she had several friends bombard our website comments section with personal attacks against the writer, Tim Collins. Tim even began receiving threatening phone calls at home. This is exactly what Jacqueline Power described in the article as typical bully behaviour: “The bully will create a group of followers who are convinced they’re superior to the victims.” None of the friends wrote about how wonderful this manager is, instead they attacked the writer’s age and imagined social standing (nobody can know another person’s story just by looking at them), and called for him to be punished for this perceived attack. These are all earmarks of bullying, and I was especially disappointed in how quickly the comments sunk to demeaning and ageist remarks.

The kicker? We have stories of bosses in Victoria (including one who challanged her subordinate to a fistfight) that we didn’t use, who make even our generic examples pale in comparison.

It is so very interesting that when one looks in a mirror, the reflection is often what we choose to see rather than the truth.

Flash fiction contest

Big news for all short-fiction writers out there. Our second Flash Fiction contest is kicking off with a cash prize of $100 and a deadline of June 29. One of Canada’s most celebrated short story writers and award-winning novelist, W.P. Kinsella, has agreed to join our judging panel this year. He’ll be joined by mystery writer Robin Spano who pens the fun and dangerous Clare Vengel novels; Island writer Lou Allin, author of the wonderful RCMP Corporal Holly Martin series; and a Victoria-based but internationally-published author named, well, me, who has a new dark thriller launching this week on Amazon (K.A.R.M.A., amzn.com/0987796712) and the first in a new mystery series, Angel With A Bullet, from Midnight Ink and available in all great book stores on Sept. 8. For all contest details, see ad on Page 18. M

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