Part 4 How to Survive Work

Getting out of Gangland Podcast


My work is like a recessionary B-movie, there’s a bullying epidemic spreading across the working world and the implausibly gorgeous scientists are in a race against time to find a vaccination.  Will we be able to beat the disease of being really foul to each other at work or has time run out for humanity at work?


Whether you’re a Doctor working for Atos or an agency worker on a zero hour contract fact is you’re likely to be experiencing a certain psychic squeeze.  This is what the geeks call the bullying equation.



The Bullying Equation

human beings + recession + unfairness

= fear

= loathing, paranoia and their BFF projection

= well hello bullying


Bullying is not an exact science, its something like “ saying or doing something horrible to someone else, more than once where the person doing the bullying knows damned well that they are upsetting you”. It’s like a psychic paint stripper, reducing us to bloody stumps if used in excess.


It’s tempting to get all legal about bullying and indeed bullying is baaaaaaad, but you can’t ban it.  Not wishing to rain on your parade of human loveliness, but bullying is an ordinary part of life, and this means we can’t eradicate it.



Getting a perspective on bulling is profoundly difficult because it requires facing up to some hard facts about human life.  People hurt each other in an attempt to rid themselves of their own vulnerability, a paranoid attempt to split the world into powerful people and vulnerable ones.


One of the reasons why really good bullies really get under our skin is because they  enlist our internal bullies. This is the voice inside your head which says you’re a loser and nobody likes you and that’s why you have to spend team meetings locked in the lav.


We all have one, and workplace bullies sniff them out like blood hounds.



Bullying is big at work because gang mentality as a way of dealing with the fear and vulnerability of a recession. Gangs are a paranoid regime of bullying, creating a workplace aristocracy, the thems and us’s,  weeding out the weeds, weirdoes and anyone who doesn’t have the right haircut.


Thems the rules.


Working in gangland there’s a huge temptation to withdraw from other people. Nothing to do with me….whistling….


It is with great regret that I have to inform you that we’re all in it together. Yes, you are involved in bullying even when you’re just watching it from a safe distance and you too can potentially go from that nice bloke in accounts to the North West’s Charles Bronson.


In workplaces where bullying is accepted, we easily get sucked into a passivity, colluding with a psychic caste system that says the world is made up of weak people and strong people. Like Basset hounds in a lab, we start to acclimatize to the carpet cleaner tests, bragging about the benefits of having really clean eyes while handing out ciggies and practicing our smoke rings.


So how to get out of Gangland?



Step 1: find some higher ground

Being bullied feels like drowning so you first need to get to safer ground. This involves getting out of bullying hot spots when you can, anything from avoiding the smoking room or those after work drinks that seem to end up with someone calling you fat and ugly. Or it can be going somewhere you really do feel good every day, from your best friend’s sofa, to train stations, to allotments or a John Lewis café which will be the last place of safety standing after the revolution. Anywhere you feel offers you safety.


Stage 2: bullying book

Methodically write down the times, places and what happened every time you were bullied. This sounds like something your Dad would tell you if your dad was a police man but it’s actually sound advice. I’m not saying you’re preparing for a court date, but to have some facts down is very important in getting your head around what is happening to you. Not everything is subjective, there are facts and they are the difference between being a sensitive soul and being delusional. So write them down, in a book, which you keep at home. Only ever read or write this book in the morning and when you are not drunk.


Stage 3: get a witness

It is essential that you tell someone what is going on. They can be someone that has witnessed the bullying or not, someone you like or not, but someone who you trust to keep their eye on you. You’re not asking them to be a judge or referee, only to be strong enough to be a witness to what you are experiencing, either literally or in the psychic sense. Telling someone does a number of things. It forces you out of your bunker and makes you admit what is happening. It shares the burden of your guilty secret and starts to shift the balance of power away from the bully to Team Not-Just-a-Victim.


There is no psychic ketamine to dull the pain of no longer being able to sweep things, including our own humanity, under the carpet.  But it’s also the first step out of a psychic caste system that says you’re just a Basset hound, smoking fags and thinking you’re clever.


Surviving Work  offers free and confidential resources for people who want to become more resilient either in or out of work.


We have just set up the Surviving Work Library, a free resource by the real experts, people like yourself who are actually surviving work. There are podcasts, stories and mercifully short guides on how to survive work. All totally and utterly free and anonymous. We are not purveyors of magic solutions. Nor do we promise to make you thinner or richer. But we will help you survive work.

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