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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Helen BS: my cautionary tale (38) RE: BS: my cautionary tale 21 Jan 19

Yes, Charmion, but the usual process is to only ask for references from the candidate's managers or overseers. It's a rare thing for a candidate's subordinates or juniors to be asked for their opinions.

I had a manager once who was charming, clever and said all the right things to his managers and couldn't give a hoot about anyone lower on the food chain than him. I had the chance to work with his manager for a while. I was honest, when asked - or even when not asked, i.e. expressing my frustrations.

People who have not been targeted by bullies or in domestic violence situations etc will often say, "Why didn't you say something, why didn't you speak up, why didn't you make a formal complaint?" Sometimes some people go on to the blame game. If it was so bad, he/she would have complained so it can't have been as serious as he/she is saying it was. "Put up or shut up."

There are a lot of reasons why people don't speak up. Even when the person is as outspoken as I am. I first needed to recognise what was happening in a new work situation where I was trying to fit in with the manager's way of doing things. Also, I was getting no validation from other staff there. I worked out much, much later that they were keeping their heads down to avoid being his next target, but for me I was trying to work out if I was falling short in the job, or miscommunicating, misinterpreting what the manager was asking me to do, etc etc. I was also seriously desperate financially at that time so I was not in a position to just up and leave.

A student/teacher or more especially a student/lecturer dynamic is usually that the student recognises the lecturer's expertise in the academic area and starts to second-guess his/her own capabilities and understanding of the topic. It's easy for a bully to hone in on that vulnerability.

There is usually a power imbalance in the relationship. Manager/employee, student/lecturer, or a financial imbalance, e.g. a stay-at-home wife and mother who relies on her partner's income.

Then there is the type of person who - inexplicably for me as a loudmouth troublemaker - doesn't like "to make waves" or "rock the boat" so he/she will be capable of being pushed to breaking point and is more likely to walk away from the situation without ever taking proactive steps to resolve the issue.

It's a complicated dynamic. No easy answers. No one walks away unscathed, whatever the outcome.

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