Back when she was 23 years old, Elizabeth Barry was bullied at work by her female boss, who empowered her then became jealous of her success. She became a wolf behind closed doors. Today, as a coach, a women’s empowerment author, and a leader, Elizabeth rises to stand for all women who have succeeded in the face of adversity as we all learn to carve a new path. Stop workplace bullying and check yourself before you disempower anyone in your path because the only person that loses is you.
Listen to the podcast here:
Women Empowerment And The Decline Of Adult Bullying At Work
Leadership Is About Empowerment, Not Disempowerment
This is an influential story. It’s a story that’s near and dear to my heart. I call it an influence story for women in business who feel bullied by other women. Our topic goes beyond ego and it’s based on jealousy and insecurity, real yucky feelings and habits. It’s a bad thing overall, jealousy and insecurity can cause human beings to act in not so nice ways. This is an important topic because it’s real and it’s happening in work environments in careers. It causes harm and affects people sometimes for years. Adult bullying and female bullying to other female leaders, it’s hurtful and it’s demeaning. Having the platform Beyond Ego, I feel honored to share this topic because no one is allowed to treat anyone unfairly.
No one should believe that they have the power or the influence to do that. No one should feel like they have a right to treat someone in demeaning or demoralizing ways because they feel above them. When someone is being bullied, the person is typically jealous of them. I can say that because it’s a yucky feeling. If you’re on either side of the spectrum here, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know, I hope that you read on. If you know a woman in the workplace who is being bullied or is run by a fear-based leadership environment, share this with her and let her know that there is help. There’s coaching, there’s business therapy to know how to defend yourself, know how to communicate and get yourself out of it. I hope to be a guide and a mentor for you to do that.
Women who face bullying in the workforce, it affects the mental well-being of your future and career. It affects the mental well-being of if you want to go back to work the next day. It often creates this feeling like you take these thoughts and ideas, you ruminate about them and they circle. It becomes detrimental. You can bring all of those feelings home to your family or apartment. Even if you live alone, you can be depressed about this. The thing to do is if you’re a bully in the workforce, start to think about what leadership means to you and I’ll tap into that. If you’re bullied in the workforce, I’m going to give you some tips and tactical advice on how to overcome all of this within the Beyond Ego platform.
The first thing to think about is the language that is used. If you are being bullied and you feel demoralized and demeaned in any way, if you feel like someone is being mean to you behind closed doors, creating a fear-based environment, it’s time to do something about it. If you’re going to do something, if you’re going to stop it, if you don’t want to be a victim anymore of bullying in the workplace, or if you want to finally stand up to someone who you know or may have a slight inkling that they’re jealous of you and they’re making your life, career, and work environment uncomfortable, I’m here to stand for you. It’s time to think about leadership. What does leadership mean? You don’t have to be a CEO of a company or have a high position to call yourself a leader.
We are all called to lead in all areas of our lives. I don’t care what position you’re in, how old you are, or how long you’ve been in your position, we are all called to lead. Leadership in life and traits, they include self-respect and respect for others. Being a kind communicator, truthful, honest, clear-minded, and knowing how to show up in the world, not only for yourself but for other people, especially in work environments. These are the influential traits that we have to have as women leaders and we must hone them and own them to help others in business, workforce, and in and around our area. When an attack is happening, when bullying is taking place, when jealousy causes rage, or when female bullying happens, what happens is the amygdala, the part of the brain that makes you think you’re in a fight, is triggered. It triggered on both ends. For the person who is being bullied, the logical thinking shuts down.
That’s why a lot of us don’t report it or don’t know how to stand up for ourselves because we’re so stunned and shocked that someone feels that they can treat us this way. If you’re being bullied, you don’t know how to defend or stand up for yourself because there might be a bad reaction. You might be a reactor and you might yell at them or scream at them and be fearful of losing your job. There’s also the normalcy human quality of not knowing how to defend yourselves or how to respond to someone when they’re mean to you, especially if it’s out of nowhere.Overall, jealousy and insecurity can cause human beings to act in not-so-nice ways. Click To Tweet
I’m going to tell you what happened to me. When I was in my early twenties, I was 23 years old. I was in my second real job in corporate. I was working in publishing in the dance arena in New York City. I came in as one of the first Director of Marketing at a dance publication. I became this top-selling sales superstar and I was blowing it out of the water. There was a new publisher that came in and she took me under her wing. Every single day, this woman brought me coffee. She was like, matcha tea, mocha lattes, you name it, and she was bringing them to me. What I didn’t realize then is that she was honing me and she was blurring lines. She was favoring me. I was 23 years old, I didn’t know anything about that. It was my first job in New York City. I was loving it.
She blurred lines. She took me out to dinner a lot. We became very close-knit friends. What happens normally with bullying environments or fear-based environments is that the leader often gets close to the vulnerable person. They feel like they can treat them anyway they can. That’s what happened. I was on my way to my first ever PowerPoint presentation. I was trying to make the PowerPoint for a client I was selling to and I didn’t know how to use PowerPoint at that time. This is way back in the early ’90s. I didn’t know what PowerPoint meant. She made me do this PowerPoint and I was struggling through it but I got through it. I remember I was the one who was going to be pitching the deck and I’d never pitched a deck before. I had nothing to emulate. I didn’t know what any of that meant. I’d never been in a meeting like that. It was my first time pitching.
I was being thrown to the wolves and I had stayed up until 3:00 AM the night before practicing this PowerPoint because I had looked up the tips. She said, “You’re not supposed to read the slides and all of this stuff.” I remember staying up until 3:00 in the morning trying to do my best because I was trying to impress my boss that I was very close with and I wanted to impress the client and do a good job. It was 7:00 the next day. I lived in Cape Cod for a while, so I was a frumpy girl coming into New York City. I often dressed a little bit on the frumpy side until I got my New York City female bad-ass persona. I started creating my own feminine style for myself in the workplace. That morning I decided to put my feminine style on. I bought this beautiful dress. I put my hair in a bun, I wore makeup and I got into the car with my boss that I had been very close and dear friends with. I was so excited. It was 7:00 in the morning and she picked me out to go and drive like an hour and a half to this client. I got in the car and the woman was different immediately. I’m a Personal Professional Development Coach. Now I understand all of those signs, but then I didn’t know much about it.
She was cold. She shut off. I look back now and there was a little bit of jealousy. I looked great, I looked professional, I had a briefcase. This boss of mine that had blurred lines with me, making us feel close, she was suddenly cold. During the ride on the New Jersey turnpike, she pointed her finger and was telling me that I had too much perfume on. She was yelling at me practically the entire ride in the car. She was pretending that she was throwing up. I’m not kidding. This woman was in her late 40s or early 50s. She was like, “I’m going to throw up. How dare you wear all this perfume?” This was going on for about 45 minutes at this point.Bullies point, judge, and make you feel insecure because of their own insecurities. Click To Tweet
She did the unthinkable act. She pulled over on the rest stop on the New Jersey turnpike. She pulled into a spot and ordered me to go and wash off my perfume. I was mortified and embarrassed. I didn’t know where my boss was. She was not a leader at all. She was very mean. She was not compassionate. There was no empathy there. Maybe I did have too much perfume on, but she was pretending she was puking. It was one of the most awful feelings. I never forgot that and I didn’t know what to do. I came back from the bathroom and I had been crying. I cried the entire way. She was yelling at me the entire time in the car and I cried. These tears and mascara was streaming down my face. There goes the PowerPoint presentation that I prepared for from 3:00 in the morning the night before.
We got to the client and I had to put myself together. I still did the presentation but I was sick to my stomach at how someone can feel like they could treat someone else that way. We had to drive an hour and a half back to the office. She dropped me off at that point back in Hoboken. I remember being so stunned. I cried and cried. I called my best friend and we met each other for a drink. I told her what happened but I never reported it. I didn’t know what to do. From then on, she started being mean to me behind closed doors. This is a woman who was my mentor. She was telling me and telling everyone at the company how great I was and how many sales I was making.
I didn’t want to do any more sales. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to make any calls. I was sick to my stomach, going back to that office. What ironically happened is the universe is always getting your back. It was three days later, a publisher from their competitor calls my office. Back then, we had cell phones, but she called my office. She invited me for coffee and offered me a job at the competitor. I would have never had gone to the competitor, but being what took place in that car that day from my boss and my mentor, I was running for the hills. That was an awful situation. The woman’s name is Carla. If she ever read this blog, I want her to know that she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and she was found out.
She was later fired from the position and she went crazy. Needless to say, that’s what happened. I was bullied when I was 23 years old from a woman who was 50-something, my mentor, blurred lines with me, and I didn’t know what to do. How do you spot a bully? How do you know what’s happening? They start to blame you, they point, they judge, and they make you feel unsafe and insecure because of their insecurities. I look back now, I think that Carla was jealous of the way that I was dressed that morning. I wasn’t frumpy anymore. I was professional Elizabeth and she didn’t know what to do with herself, so she started to pretend to puke in the car. I still think about this and it makes me want to puke.
You spot a bully when they cause you to carry burdens. I was carrying this burden of what did I do? How do I go back to work? How do I want to sell? How do I want to be at that company as the top leading salesperson there anymore in New York City? I did not want to do that. Bullies carry out a fear-based environment. They’re fear-based leaders. The way that you overcome it, now that I know, is to become aware of what’s happening. Understand that if there’s a bullying situation going on, you need to speak up. You need to know what’s appropriate behavior and what’s not. You need to tell someone to report the incident. Go to a supervisor and tell them what happened. Bullying stunts professional growth. Bullying from women leaders especially for other women in the workforce can be such a hindrance if you’re trying to advance in your career, which I was at the ripe age of 23 and I didn’t know what to do.If you're being bullied, don't cause toxic drama by spreading what happened in the office. Click To Tweet
I got lucky that the universe was like, “I’m going to call a competitor now. You’re going to go over there and blow it out of the water.” When I told that woman that I was leaving to go to the competitor a few days after that happened, I feel like she had steam coming out of her ears, at the top of her head and her eyes. I remember thinking, “You did it to yourself.” Bullies take a target. They make them feel insecure. They might choose people that are vulnerable so that the bully feels that they can treat them a certain way. They get close with you before this happens. They create blurred lines. I’m not a fan of blurred lines. That’s why I tell people to create boundaries for yourself and know the difference. Know when to speak up and not to cross over that boundary. The other thing could be physical traits or age. How you look or how you don’t look. How do you defend yourself in this situation? Communicate healthily. Don’t be afraid to cry. Allow yourself to cry if you have to. It’s okay. Be strong, though, if this is happening to you.
I cried the entire way in that car and it was the only thing that I knew how to do. It was a human thing to do. I cried and the mascara went down my face. Know that you don’t have to carry that burden. One thing I encourage you not to do is to cause toxic drama by spreading what happened in the office with your other office workmates. That’s the worst thing that you can do. Remember to go to a supervisor or someone that you can trust to tell them about the situation and acknowledge the bully’s intentions. If it doesn’t help, then I encourage you to find a new job or look to be transferred or something like that. If you are the bully or the leader who is thinking, “I might be doing this thing,” it’s not okay but this whole Beyond Ego platform is based on becoming a better you. Personal Professional Development is looking at your mock, habits, and things that you don’t like that you want to change.
Become an ambassador for other female leaders. Don’t be jealous. Stop the jealousy and stop being mean to other people in front of meanings and behind closed doors. Learn what being a leader means and ask yourself. Write it down, make a list. What are the great leadership qualities that you believe in? What are the great leadership qualities that you wish you have? How do you want to show up in the world? I’m honored to share this story because it happened to me when I was 23 years old. I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t report it and I luckily got an offer from the competitor three days after that. I offer my services as a business coach in many ways to anyone who feels like this might be happening in their work environment. For the offices that need a time-out, I offer and create office hours for business therapy. It could be once a month or twice a month on a Friday.
I can come in and have open office hours for employees who are experiencing things like this but don’t know who to talk to about it. They can come to me, get business coaching, learn how to communicate effectively, learn how to not carry the burden and energy and have it affect the work that they’re doing or affect the love that they have for their career and position. That’s one idea. If people are being bullied and they want coaching on how to stand up for themselves, how to find their self-worth, how to step into their courage and not be fearful, learn how to do it eloquently and succinctly, I am offering my coaching to you. For people who are the bullies and saying to themselves, “I might be doing this.” I want you to thank yourself for acknowledging the things that you might be doing wrong, learn that it’s okay, and you can step into inspiration. Go beyond ego. Why? Insecurity is not okay.
It’s okay to be insecure but learn to be more courageous. Learn how powerful you can be without being too powerful. When I say powerful, I mean leadership-like, leader-like, influential, and beneficial to an organization, empowered as a leader and to teams, and empowered to all of the people around you. I stand for all women in the workforce. This happens with men and women too, but I’m specifically focusing on women now. I’m a huge woman’s empowerment advocate. I stand for you. I stand for everyone in the workforce. Bring me in. Use me or use my books as tools. My coaching and office hours for this thing can do wonders for organizations, brands and companies, especially for people who work in high demanding and busy office environments where you’re carrying these burdens but you also have a lot of deadlines to meet.
I want you to go beyond ego, get help, stand up for yourself, stop the jealousy, and become the best you that you can be. I stand for all women and I honor you. I honor myself for sharing this story. Most people see me as I’m a leader, influencer, author, speaker or coach. I ran a marketing agency. I’ve curated seventeen TEDx events. I’ve done all of these great things, but I haven’t done so without adversity. I didn’t get to be this strong woman without crying in the car on the way to a PowerPoint presentation because my boss was mean to me. I got there because I learned how to overcome it. I had to go through all of the obstacles and challenges that I faced. I learned how to manifest that into becoming a better person. What I do is I coach everyone in the areas of Personal Professional Development. I honor you. I hope you’re having a good day and stop the bullying. Start being the best you that you can be. Stand up for yourself. I’ll see you next time.
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