Reply To: Can't tell if this is bullying.

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I forgot to say I have dealt with a couple of colleagues who were bullies in the past. What works for me:

Take the person aside – no audience / have some notes on hand in case you lose your train of thought (if you are like me and your brain shuts down when you get nervous) and use lots of “I feel” statements –

Barbara I feel like you may be having some concerns with my work lately ? Im feeling a little attacked at times like this morning when … and last week when ..:.and give her those specific examples.

Did I do something to upset you ? (I don’t know for sure why but that question has worked every time for me). One time it was because it made the person realize they were the one who had the problem and they were just taking it out on me —-ie stressful home life, worsening personal medical problems therefore not feeling well at work. I didn’t actually do anything wrong – but rather they were taking their frustrations out on me. When their concern was valid – such as a productivity issue at one point, I made sure to agree with them saying I was also frustrated with that aspect of my job and had been trying different things to help.

I then explained how my adhd affects this part of my job (I know this is not a popular choice among others on here) but I feel so strongly about advocating for people with invisible disabilities -I’m a full time advocate for my 3 kids at school- that it works for me anyway.

I am the person in your office who talks openly about ADHD and mental illness. I am especially open with my patients. I’m not embarrassed to say I have adhd and mental illness (depression/anxiety) or that i take medications. It’s a brain based disorder – why should we treat it any different than a disease of my heart or my liver? I think I have even helped some of my patients to pursue their own diagnosis. Sorry I really went off on a tangent there !

I always finish my explanation with ..this is not an excuse but rather an explanation. (I mean if I had an outward physical disability everyone would be able to see that. So why can’t I talk about how adhd affects me at work- I don’t say this part out loud).

I am a Nurse Practitioner so for me it’s the whole stigma issue with invisible disabilities -especially mental illness- that I’m passionate about. I want to normalize talking about it and asking for help from bosses/colleagues/support staff. I learn differently than others/ my processing speed is not quite as fast as yours and my poor working memory means I have to take more notes than others when seeing a patient. So these things may mean I see one less patient a day than you do. If I had one leg and this meant I walked slower than others then that could be a factor in how many patients I’m able to see especially if I have to trek all over the hospital to see them …right ? I don’t say that last part to them of course.
The most important part: Barbara if you have ANY ideas on short cuts or work arounds that you can think of that might help me pick up speed (so you don’t feel like I’m “getting away with being lazy”) please don’t hesitate to tell me.

Enter office politics / lots of years of therapy : “because Barbara I respect how well you do your job and I’m sure I could learn a lot from you”.
Leave it at that and after a week or 2 if she’s still being rude /interrupting etc – take her aside again and say “I wanted to say thank you for the ideas you gave me. Can you let me know if you have seen any differences yet in my work? Because I would love to get your feedback.

Then – “one last thing – I’ve noticed when you interrupt me in front of a patient it makes me lose my train of thought and that just prolongs the visit”. OR “when you start directing me to do something that you can see I’m already working on – I know you mean well ( and if you’re like my husband probably frustrated with how long it takes me to do ..blah blah blah )

But when you try to help me (take over the situation) i start getting anxious and then I end up forgetting to send the pt to the lab for their testing or I forget to ….

I also think it may be affecting my authority with the lab techs and the secretaries. Some are giving me a lot of push back when I ask them to do something.

How about we meet again in a couple weeks ? This has been so helpful- thank you Barbara for your patience and understanding”.

I know these exchanges aren’t perfect but hopefully you get the idea.

One colleague i did this with it shut her right up- she never liked me and talked about me behind my back all the time – including the fact
That she thinks ADHD is fake and an excuse etc ….BUT she didn’t pull the other crap on
me in front of others ever again. And I don’t care if she likes me or not – I don’t need to be friends with people I work with. I am confident in my skills as an NP and as a caring and empathic human being, mother, wife and friend -to my real friends 🙂

I hope there will be something here that can help you out. Keep us posted