Her reaction was guilt, concern and furrowed brow disappointment in herself. She forwarded me an email sent to her by a “respected” and much older industry colleague from another firm.
As I’ve taught her to when she wasn’t 100% sure on something, my junior staff member had drafted a response, but wanted to run it past me first.
As I read her responding email and then scrolled down to read the email that had prompted it my blood boiled in my veins.
Scrapping her response I lit up the keyboard with my own to the bully which said – in fairly plain terms, back down, stop bullying my staff member and do what was asked of you because it was perfectly reasonable.
I haven’t had a lot to do with bullies in my life – I’m lucky for that and in this case, the bullying wasn’t directed at me, but at a young staff member in a (sadly successful) attempt to make her feel bad, small and less than for a perfectly reasonable and professional request that she had made on behalf of a customer.
The bullying was uncalled for, it was unnecessary and I’m dumfounded as to why someone like this person would feel the need to do it to someone 20+ years their junior.
What I’m also sad for – and I have to take the blame for this, is that I haven’t embodied my staff member with enough faith in herself yet to recognise this as bullying and to have come to me straight away rather than feeling bad. That’s a work in progress for me.