Everyday heroes – you can be one at work
Do you consider yourself heroic? Not many of us would. The image of the hero is a larger than life figure that performs great deeds with no regard for their own well-being. When shown those pair of shoes, very few of us feel worthy to step into them. Heroism, however is not that difficult or daunting an assignment. Every day heroes are all around us and we have the opportunity daily to step up and become one of this group.
It is heartbreaking when people tell me about the systematic dismantling of their lives by perpetrators of workplace bullying. These villains seem to ply their trade with impunity, often under the knowing eyes of others. Imagine watching a young woman being raped on a sidewalk in front of many onlookers and no one lifts a finger or even a voice to help her as she sobs silently under the deeds of her attacker. Now visualize, no need to imagine this time (if our statistics are reliable), one of your co-workers being assaulted by another right in front of your eyes. What is stopping you from intervening? Is it fear? Your fear is of what, of retaliation from the bully, of disturbing your private ideal of what work is? Fear is the biggest enemy of the hero. Fear causes hesitation, questioning and reluctance. News flash folks most heroes will tell you they were scared senseless when they acted but knew that they had to do something and that it was worth the risk. Most heroes will say that had they not acted they would not have been able to look themselves in the mirror.
Courage comes from within. It is a product of how you value yourself as a person and how you authenticate that value. Courage is not a super power. It exists in each and every one of us. It embraces fear and says “I know you are here but I need to push you aside because this is too important to ignore.” Courage is about listening to that voice that says to you “You know this is not right. Now what are going to do?”
Bullies are the true cowards in this dynamic. They thrive upon operating in the dark corners hidden from view. But they are not hidden. We see them and their acts daily. Shine the light on these workplace vampires. (See my July 9th post for more on this analogy). Step up and say “I see you and what you are doing”. This is a start. At the very least step up and say to the target “I see what is happening to you, it is not right and I will support you”. This second action does not feel very risky, but let me assure you it is an enormous action of heroism.
Co-workers and leaders, let your heroism shine through. Shine a light on the villainous workplace bully and like the vampire they will shrink away or maybe even burst into flames right before your eyes.
From Working Ethically
By Mike Hanlon
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.