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Why should companies even care about work-life balance?

Why should companies even care about work-life balance?

What’s the big deal about work-life balance? To some, it may seem like a lot of touchy-feely stuff that only trendy people talk about over giant cups of latte, on their way to yoga. It doesn’t sound like a topic that would be relevant to being more productive or successful in business – or does it?

Let’s start with a definition. Work-life balance is the practice of devoting time and energy to both work and personal goals for optimum performance in both areas.

There are so many reasons why companies should encourage their employees to have better work-life balance. Here are but a few:

Increase productivity – It sounds counter-intuitive, but allowing employees certain benefits such as more personal days or flexible hours, will increase their productivity. It’s pretty hard to stay focused on work, while you’re distressing about asking for a day off to take your child to the doctor. People need breathing room to take care of their families and themselves on a regular basis. This, in turn, allows them to put their personal roles aside and focus on work while at work.

Avoid burnout – Ever notice how “zoned out” you feel if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep? The mind, like the body does not perform well if continuously over-worked. Taking much needed personal days and booking vacation time is essential to refresh the mind and spirit so that you can avoid a breakdown. 

Keep people from quitting – We’ve all heard of the term “paying your dues”. Basically that means toughing it out at a low-paying, high-stress, long-hours type of job. Fresh graduates do it all the time, and even people mid-career will endure the crush of being over-worked and under-appreciated. They do it to learn new skills or to  prove themselves and get promoted to something better. But sooner or later, they move to greener pastures. While it’s inevitable that people will switch jobs at some point, don’t risk losing talented employees simply because they are drowning in work. Recognize when they need help to manage their workload and consider shifting responsibilities as required.

Improve morale – In many work places, there are employees who bond by comparing how exhausted they are. This is not a good way to bond! It produces an atmosphere of shared frustration and even resentment. A great way to improve morale is by occasionally treating your employees to surprise breaks. For example, let them go home an hour early on Friday, or round up the department for an impromptu coffee break across the street.

Stimulate Creativity – Every company needs to encourage innovation. It’s how you stay ahead of the competition and give yourselves a leading edge. Creativity dies when employees are so tired that they have no energy for anything beyond the daily hustle. Why not treat your team to an extended lunch break and put your heads together and come up with some really out-of-the-box ideas! Do this on a regular basis and watch how people will feel more appreciated and take ownership of their role, while having a well-deserved break from their routine.

As an employer, you have the ability to create an environment where people can work at a reasonable pace and make a more valuable contribution to the company. Encourage your team to be at their best through better work-life balance.

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What if Everyone Knew Your Secrets

 

What are your little secrets that you don’t want people to know?

Was it something that you did a long time ago? Is it a struggle that still has a hold of you? Or is it a weakness that has never been exposed?

What if everyone knew your secrets? How would that affect your life? You may be surprised to know that it could actually make people more compassionate towards you…

Imagine that everyone in the world had a label on their back, stating what their struggles were. (Hmmm… this sounds like the basis of a really good sci-fi movie!) Knowing people’s back-story would make such a difference to how we treat them. I believe that we would be more compassionate and patient with them. I think that we would be slow to judge and criticize, and we’d feel inspired by their strength.

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But in real life, we can’t know a person’s story just by looking at them, so we need to assume that whatever happened in their lives, they are probably doing the best that they can under the circumstances.

That same principle applies to ourselves. I’m often guilty of beating myself up for making bad choices or stupid mistakes. There were times when I felt like the dumbest person in the room! But here’s the thing – we’ve all had those moments, so we need to give ourselves a break.

YOU need to give yourself a break. I’m talking to YOU! When you mess up, accept it, then just plan to do better next time. Just know that everyone has a secret or a weakness, so you are not alone. It’s okay to make mistakes, but just be sure to learn from them. That’s what being human is all about.

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Brilliant shortcuts for getting organized – No lists required!

If you’re an organized person, keeping everything on track feels natural. But if you’re not very organized, the whole thing can seem intimidating, especially when it comes to making lists. Those lists just seem like one more thing that you have to get done. So here are a few shortcuts on how to get organized – no lists required!

Bins are your best friend
For those who are organizationally challenged, getting things in to beautifully coordinated and labelled bins may seem like a daunting task – believe me! But you don’t have to be “Pinterest perfect” to accomplish this set-up. No need to go crazy with fancy labels and all that stuff. Just grab a few bins from the dollar store  that you can chuck stuff into. For example, writing tools, cleaning supplies, snacks, mail, magazines. etc.

Do laundry while you watch TV
Laundry has a way of piling up like nothing else. I must shamefully  admit that at my house clean clothes can pile up for days or even a week before we get to them. Why? Because folding laundry is no fun, that’s why! But what if you pair laundry with something that is fun? Set aside some time once a week to fold and put away laundry while watching your favourite tv show, or a movie. Boom! Get stuff done while having some me-time!

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Plan for the next day
Getting organized is more of a mindset than anything else. If you think about things ahead of time you’ll spare yourself the trouble of scrambling around at the last minute, especially the night before work.  Develop a night time routine about an hour before bed. Take a moment to think about what will be happening the next day. Glance at your calendar to make sure you don’t have any early morning meetings. If so, calculate a time when you will need to wake up in order to get there on time. Lay out your clothes and shoes, and pack a healthy lunch. I’ve even seen people who set out their cups, plates and cereal for breakfast the next day. Do whatever you can, on the night before, to take the pressure off in the morning.

Get rid of some stuff
This equation is easy: less stuff = less cleaning. Take some time  to clear out some things that you don’t need and don’t use. I suggest the beginning of each season. Or even once a month, if you’re up for it. You’ll be glad you did!

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list and get your free guide: “The Work-Life Balance Action Plan”

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stuck

10 Secrets for getting “un-stuck” to solve a problem

Ever have one of those days when you need to solve a problem and just can’t get your act together? Sometimes those days stretch into weeks or months! You know you’ve got lots to do, but you just feel stuck! And what do most of us do when we feel stuck? We procrastinate. But sooner or later we need to move forward whether it’s at work or around the house. Here are my top 10 secrets for getting “un-stuck” when you need to solve a problem.

  1. I like to move-it move-it! Environment plays a big role in stimulating your creativity. Let’s say you have to prepare a report involving creative ideas. After a while starting at the computer will do no good at all. Grab your laptop and move to another room. It may be more comfortable, quiet – whatever! It really will make a difference. Trust me, I do it all the time!
  1. Kick it old school. I love using technology for my business, but there’s nothing more “organic” than good old pen and paper. For one thing, there are no distractions like popups or side bar advertisements. Just you and your thoughts. The act of slowly forming each word will give your brain time to process the information, and come up with new thoughts on the fly!
  1. Play that funky music. Music can really change your mood and stimulate creativity. For deep concentration, try calm instrumental music, and for creativity, take a short break and bust a move on your favourite sing-along jam!
  1. Get on up. The connection between mind and body is indisputable. If you are struggling for ideas on how to solve a problem, stand up and walk to another room, or just get up and stretch near your desk. Even a short walk down the hall will help you to snap out of it.
  1. Suck it up. Fresh air, that is. Ever wonder why you come up with some of the best ideas in the shower? The increased oxygen flow stimulates your mind. Now you can’t strip down and take a shower at work, but you can probably go outside for about 5 minutes. This works especially well when it’s cool outside. Breathe deeply and slooowly. Ahhh…

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  1. Get the munchies. We’ve all felt the mid afternoon slump. Just about 2 hours after lunch when we are feeling drained and still it’s not close enough to 5:00 to get excited about getting out of the office. You could do with a cool drink or a small snack to boost your energy and get you back on track.
  1. Wanna hear a joke? Take a break and find something fun to read or watch. Maybe a short, funny video for a quick pick-me-up. Just be careful not to take too long or this may morph into all-out procrastination!
  1. Old is new again. Have you done any work in the past that you were really proud of? Go back and have a look at it to see if it sparks your creativity or gives you ideas that you can use right now.
  1. Call your BFF. Two heads are better than one! You may have a friend who you can bounce ideas off and who may be able to give you a few fresh ideas of her own.
  1. When in doubt, ask Google. I have to do this from time to time. (Umm… actually every day!) Look up your question, and you’ll discover that you are not the only one with this challenge. You’re sure to find many solutions to help you right away. The world is at your fingertips!

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list and get your free guide: “The Work-Life Balance Action Plan”

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Growth

10 Ways to Stay Mentally Strong in Tough Times

Everybody faces tough times every now and then. It could be the loss of a loved one, challenges at work, or even a broken heart. I’ve been there too, and I understand how hard it can be to overcome those setbacks. But if we want to get on with our lives we have to find ways to avoid getting stuck in those negative emotions. Here’s a list of 10 ways to stay mentally strong in tough times

1. Accept it and move on
I admit, this one is easier said than done. But what does it mean to “accept it”? Essentially, you have to stop denying that it ever happened, and let go of the wish that you could go back and make it different. Make a firm decision to look forward and do your best from here on. Give yourself a defined period of time to process what has happened. Then set an actual date on your calendar for when you will start to move forward and make plans for the future.

2. Embrace change and find the opportunity in it
Sometimes a loss or breakdown isn’t the end of the world. When old things break down, it leaves room for new things. Several years ago I was working in a very stressful job. The pressure got so intense that I couldn’t cope and ultimately left without even having another job to go to. At first I felt like a failure, but it I started to see it as an opportunity to explore new things like entrepreneurship, and a chance to change my lifestyle and focus more time on my family.

3. Don’t focus on yourself
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “I was sad about having no shoes until I saw a man with no feet”. Even though you are in tough times, you can go and spend time with someone else who could use your help. Try visiting a friend who needs help with her kids, or volunteer at a shelter. Believe me, it will give you a fresh perspective about your own situation and give you hope that things can and will get better.

4. Learn from your mistakes
It’s easy to beat yourself up about the things you did wrong, but those mistakes were not a waste. Reflect on what happened and decide to prepare mentally so you can better handle those situations in the future. For example, if you spoke harshly to your child and saw the hurt on her face, decide to take a different approach next time. Maybe cool off before you respond, or use a different tone of voice.

5. Don’t build our life around others’ expectations
We often hear people say “don’t judge me”. What does that even mean? They are actually saying “don’t judge me by your standards”. Most people are struggling with something and doing the best they can under the circumstances. Be kind to yourself and only do what you can manage.

6. Get used to being uncomfortable
One of my favourite speakers and authors is Dr. Brene Brown, who studies people’s behavior as it relates to vulnerability. She once said “chose discomfort over resentment”. Basically, people are so afraid of having uncomfortable conversations that they would rather keep their feelings inside and be bitter for their whole life. Don’t do it! Face up and say what you need to say. It’s the best way to clear the air and leave those feelings in the past.

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7. See tough times as temporary
Have you ever had your heart broken? I have. More than once. And not just by a person. Sometimes it was the heartbreak of a missed opportunity. But contrary to how I felt at the time, the world did not end! Time has a way of numbing the pain. And one day you’ll find greater happiness, and even forget about “Mr. So-and-so”.

8. Talk it out with a friend
Sometimes I wish I had studied to become a therapist. They make a lot of money by simply sitting and listening to people talk. (And other stuff too!) At the heart of the matter, people feel better when they talk about things. As humans, we put great value in being heard and validated. Not only that, you may even come to the realization that the situation is not as bad as you thought it was. Talk to a friend. You’ll feel much better!

9. Get a change of scene for a fresh perspective
Over the years I’ve noticed that people who lost loved ones and went on vacation for a little while where more successful at recovering from their grief. There’s something about changing your surroundings that takes the weight off. I don’t know why it works, but it just does!

10. Learn about others’ struggles and how they got through it
Sometimes, you just don’t have any ideas about what to do to feel better, or how to overcome a tough challenge. That’s perfectly normal. So since you don’t have all the answers, get out there and talk to people who have been through what you’re going through. Read a book or watch a movie on the subject. Ask advice from someone older and wiser. Get inspired!

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list and get your free guide: “The Work-Life Balance Action Plan”

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Feeling Awful? Get out!

Some days you just want to crawl under a rock. I recently had such a day, and let me tell you, it ruined my confidence.

It just felt like everything was going wrong. To start off, it was a bad hair day, so I wasn’t even trying to be cute. I just wrapped it up into one of those messy bun styles, and started my day. Both kids decided to act crazy and uncooperative about getting ready for school, and I was scrambling around trying to pack lunches. (I admit it, I yelled at them #badmommy) As far as being organized, I’ve had better days. To top it off, work was frantic, not to mention that I had to travel downtown to be present at a special event that evening. I usually look forward to these events, but today I wasn’t feeling sociable at all! But the show must go on!

After fighting traffic for over an hour, I arrived at the venue and tried to keep a low profile. Then I sunk into my bad habit of comparing myself to the other women in the room. The ones who were cuter, thinner, had on a nicer dress etc. However, since part of my job includes meeting people, I had to go and do my thing. Before I knew it, I was talking with our guests and making my way around the room. Within 10 minutes, something amazing happened – I started to feel better! But why?

Nothing had changed about me since I entered the room. But through the process of talking with other women, I took the focus off all the negative things I had swimming around in my own head and started to look outside myself. I got engaged in their stories  and experiences and soon began to compare myself with them again – but in a different way. This time, it was more about a spirit of comradry. The more we spoke, the more I realized that I wasn’t the only one facing challenges that day, and it’s all good. No matter what was going on with them, they all made the decision to put on their big girl panties and show up!  But wait – it gets even better…

During the course of one particular conversation with 3 other ladies, I mentioned that I have a daughter who is a teenager. “No way!” they gushed. “You look too young. You have great skin, and by the way, I like what you did with your hair.” What? My hair? Here I was a few hours earlier thinking about what a bad hair day I was having, but these ladies were telling me how great it looked!

By the end of the night I was feeling great! Nothing had changed about my circumstances – it’s  just that I was lucky enough to get a fresh perspective. So the next time I’m feeling bummed out and grumpy with myself, I’ll remember this day. I’ll remember that getting out there and interacting with other people can give you a new way of looking at things, and most likely lift your mood.

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list and get your free guide: “The Work-Life Balance Action Plan”

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Cozy nook

The Cozy Nook – How to create a personal space just for you

The other day as I was doing my rounds sweeping the floor in all the rooms upstairs and I noticed how each of my children had their own room – their own personal space. And my husband also had his own space – his home office. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t have any space to call my own. Hmph! Pretty sad considering I manage the whole house. So I set out to create my own space. A cozy nook just for me. Here’s how I did it!

Find A Space

Seems simple enough, except it’s not! If you are a single parent, you probably have your own bedroom. Bling it out, girl! There are so many things you can do here.  But otherwise, you share a room with hubby, so you need to go exploring for your own territory! Here are a few tiny spaces you could claim for yourself.

  1. The “fancy room” at the front of the house that nobody ever uses. (If you grew up with old-school parents, this was the room with the plastic on the couch. LOL. Ahh, the crunchy memories…
  2. A small space in the basement. Even if you have an unfinished basement, you can section off a bit of it and even plug in a lamp and put up some curtains.
  3. The formal dining room. Just like the “fancy room” nobody ever goes in here except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Style it up and set up headquarters!
  4. If you are fortunate to have a spare room, don’t just leave it vacant till company comes to stay with you. Make it nice and comfy and use it as your own retreat.

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Make It Comfortable

Wherever you decide to set up your cozy nook, it has to be warm and inviting. If it already has furniture in it, consider adding some fluffy pillows or a warm blanket. Throw in a side table (for tea, of course) with a lamp nearby and you are good to go. Think about the feeling you want to have in your space. Add components such as a portable speaker for playing your favourite music or a big basket for keeping magazines and markers.

Stock Up On Supplies

What will you do in your cozy nook? Read, surf the web, watch movies on your tablet? Maybe you’re a crafter. Whatever you do, set up your nook with everything you need. That includes a charger for your laptop, craft supplies and maybe even some secret mommy snacks!

Add Some Life

We get so much energy from other living things. Add at least one plant to your space. Plants clean the air, add a pop of colour to the space and just make things look fresh and lively.

Set Up Cozy Nook Ground Rules

And finally, set up rules. What??? Rules! Yes. Of course. If this is to be your retreat, you need to keep it peaceful. So be sure that when you want to hang out there, the kids are either sleeping or have someone else looking after them. Don’t allow anyone to invade your space. Stick to it and be consistent. Enjoy!

FYI, my cozy nook space is in the basement and it suits me just fine!

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How smart women handle awkward situations

Just about everyone faces awkward situations on a regular basis. Whether it’s forgetting someone’s name, confronting them about their behaviour, or even asking them to return money they owe you, these scenarios are a part of life. We can only ignore a problem for so long until we finally have to face the music.

There comes a time when you will need to have a conversation about an issue or situation that needs to be resolved. These are some great strategies for how smart women handle awkward situations.

Don’t dive in right away. Reflect on how you can resolve the issue in a productive way. Whether you wait 5 minutes or 5 days it’s important to have a strategy about how you will open up a dialogue about something that may be uncomfortable. Waiting puts some space between your heated emotions and a calm resolution.

Choose the right time. Sometimes people will be resistant to talking about something simply because you’ve caught them at a bad time. Approach them when they are calm and not distracted by other people or tasks.

Run it by a friend. Not sure if you will say or do the right thing? Confide in a friend and ask if what you are about to say is reasonable and compassionate.

Stick to the facts. Don’t get overly emotional. Lay out the points you want to get across without clouding your words with too many feelings – even when it is actually about feelings! For example, if a colleague embarrassed you in a meeting, just say that. “What you said embarrassed me. Can we avoid this next time?” is a lot better than “Why did you do this to me? How can I face my boss? Why do you hate me?” etc.

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Know your objective. When you open up a dialogue, begin with the end in mind. In other words, plan out 2 or 3 desired outcomes, so that your conversation will have some direction. Let’s say you want to talk to your teenagers about safe sex. Plan out 3 simple points – Abstain if possible, always carry protection, it’s okay to say no at any time. If these 3 points are covered, you’ve accomplished your goal.

Be respectful, even when you disagree. There may be times when both parties will not agree, but that’s okay. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. But don’t force your idea on anyone else. State your opinion and let them sate theirs. Sometimes it’s not about winning them over to your side. It’s just about being heard, which leads me to my next point…

Listen. Actually listen. It’s very common for people to not listen while other people are speaking. They are too busy planning out their own response! But listen. Really listen. You may gain information that will open your eyes. When the other person feels like you were paying attention to them, it will build trust and diffuse the awkwardness of the situation.

Learn to laugh at yourself. Some situations are just awkward and we end up looking silly. So what! Nobody’s perfect. When you have a sense of humour, others will too and one day you may look back and think it was the funniest thing ever!

Every little thing’s gonna be alright. Bob Marley said it first and it’s so true. Quite often, things are not as bad as we imagine them to be. Recently, I was stressing out because I had to tell a client I couldn’t complete a project she had for me. I stayed up all night worrying about how to break the news to her and whether it would destroy our relationship. The next morning I wrote a short email to give her the news. Her reply: “Okay, no problem”. She wasn’t even stressed about it. So relax! This too shall pass.

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list and get your free guide: “The Work-Life Balance Action Plan”

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How Running Away Made Me A Better Mother

Sometimes my life feels out of control. It’s a never ending cycle of work, paying bills, cleaning, driving the kids around, cooking and laundry. Sound familiar? Sometimes it’s beyond overwhelming. The amount of work that goes into daily tasks can be absolutely crushing – physically and mentally. I only have 2 kids and I can’t imaging how some women cope with all this plus 3 or 4 kids – especially single moms! Below, I have a list of ways to escape the insanity and de-stress. But first, I want to tell you how I recently managed to recover from a very tough time.

A few weeks ago I could feel myself drowning in the sheer mass of things that needed to be done to keep up with work, family and running a household. It was getting harder and harder to get out of bed every morning, knowing that each day brought a fresh set of problems that needed solving. Just the thought of starting every day trying to drag those two kids out of bed (not morning people) and struggle with them to get dressed, and out the door on time was enough to make me pull the covers over my head and hide out for another 5, 10 or 15 minutes. I was crumbling, and I knew that sooner or later I would break.

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One night I was on the phone with my friend Emanda and we were both commiserating about our ever-increasing pile of responsibilities.  “I wish I could just run away for a few days,” I told her. As I spoke these words out loud I had what Oprah refers to as an “aha!” moment. Then it clicked. I should just run away. As soon as I said the words, Emanda invited me to come and recharge at her place for a few days. And that’s exactly what I did.

This was my big chance to do something I hadn’t done in at least 2 years (the last time I went away with my husband and no kids). I was looking forward to having a quiet meal and a chance to read and relax without constant interruptions from others wanting to be fed or helped or driven somewhere. I wanted a few days to just be!20160603_170709

I arrived at Emanda’s place (about a 1 hour drive from my place) late in the evening. I promised her that I would be a low maintenance guest and she would not have to entertain me. But since she is such a loving person, she went out of her way to make me feel comfortable. I had the whole basement to myself, which included my own room, tv and bathroom. Having it in the basement was a bonus because I’m starting to get hot flashed and downstairs I was as cool as a cucumber!

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In the morning I surprised myself by waking up extra early before my alarm. I thought I’d be sleeping late, but my energy was renewed at the thought of having a whole day to myself to do anything I wanted to do! I started off with a healthy and refreshing bowl of fruit, which I ate slowly on the front porch in the dewy morning air. Emanda had a day off too and when she got back from driving her girls to school, she arranged to get a guest pass for me at her gym for a morning swim. I’m a poor swimmer, but simply being in the water was therapy. Just to feel the ripples pass over my skin was like being cradled.

After our swim, we went back to her house and she went about her day and I spent most of the day on the back patio catching up on some writing. Every once in a while I would look up from my laptop and just take in the sunshine, the flowers and the occasional butterfly. There’s something magical about being outside in the fresh air and taking in the sights and sounds. Nature has an incredibly calming effect.
20160602_133552Lunch time was such a treat. I had a light garden salad with grilled chicken breast. Such a clean healthy meal and a welcome change from the usual big bowls of carb-overloaded dishes that I cook for the family at home.  I am now in my mid 40’s and can’t eat the way I used to. So it really was a privilege to have a meal that truly nourished my body.

That evening I went for a leisurely bicycle ride and then relaxed with a magazine till bedtime. The next day was much the same as the first and I enjoyed it to the fullest.

By the time I was ready to go home I truly felt refreshed. It’s amazing how a short break can help you to unwind. I want to leave you with these takeaways for your own personal getaway:

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  1. Visit a friend who is fairly far out of your neighbourhood so you can enjoy exploring a new environment.
  2. Don’t over schedule yourself. There may be a lot of things you want to do but don’t try to cram everything in or you will feel rushed and stressed out. Do the most important things first and just take your time and savour each moment.
  3. Nourish your body. A big part of feeling well is eating well. Eat light because it will give you more energy to enjoy the day.
  4. Connect with nature. We are constantly inundated with media. Take a break from it and be present in the moment while you enjoy what’s all around you.
  5. Be silent. Create a daily practice of just being quiet and letting your mind wind down. This is a very effective way of reducing stress.

Once I returned home I felt re-energized and ready to go again. As a result of my time away, I had more patience with my kids and I made some resolutions about how I was going to manage my stress and my hectic schedule more effectively.

One important change I made was to join a local gym with a swimming pool. I’ve never really loved the gym but I do love the water, so that has become a new part of my fitness routine that I can look forward to 3-4 times a week. I’ve also started taking quiet time every night before bed. I’ll often just sit on the swing in my back yard and breathe in the cool night air. It creates a nice buffer between a hectic day and a restful night’s sleep.

What about you? Please leave a comment and share what you do to relieve stress or break away once in a while. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list and get your free guide: “The Work-Life Balance Action Plan”

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office bully

Dealing With Office Bullies and Other Monsters

We’ve all seen the classic schoolyard bully. She’s big and scary and lets everybody know she’s in charge. You hope that when you finally grow up, everyone else will too. But things don’t always work out that way.

Office bullies are out there and sometimes their intimidating behaviour is not so obvious to detect. They have different ways of making your life miserable but it all comes down to one thing – they want to dominate you in order to feel more powerful. But there’s hope. Here are a few types of office bullies (and other monsters) and how to deal with them.

The mean boss. I once worked at a place where my boss was such a terror, that we nicknamed her “Miranda” from the movie The Devil Wears Prada. She had no qualms about yelling at us, slamming things down on our desks and putting us on the spot in front of clients. She didn’t see us as team members, but as minions to do her bidding. In her mind, she was being tough on us in order to “mentor us”. It had the opposite effect. We were terrified and miserable. It was so demotivating that we performed poorly and regularly took sick days just to cope with the anxiety. Ultimately I quit because I couldn’t take the verbal abuse any more.

My advice to you is this – don’t take it personally, and keep doing your job. Most likely the issue is with the other person’s insecurities rather than your performance. Have a person who you can talk to who will support and encourage you. If you feel confident, you can have an honest talk about it with your boss. Just be prepared that things may not change and if so, you may want to bring it up to HR. In the meantime, try to minimize your amount of contact with this person each day. Worst case scenario – you may need to look for another job.

The gossip. Some people just love to dish dirt. It’s their way of adding more interest to their otherwise dull and boring lives. Whatever happens, do NOT get involved in office gossip. This is for two reasons. One reason is that you may be implicated in starting a rumour just by associating with the other gossips (things you said may be taken out of context). And two, if they gossip about others (especially malicious gossip) it’s only a matter of time before they gossip about you. Don’t be intimidated by their pushy requests for trash about other people. Rest assured that if they actually had any influence they would be doing better things that gossiping. Stay clear, and if they start up, just excuse yourself because you “have to get back to work”.

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The big bad bully. This type of person is in your face and often uses size and a loud voice to intimidate you. They like confrontation because they thrive on conflict and won’t leave you alone until they win. This type of person likes to get fired up and loves to debate about minor issues. Remember this – it takes two to tango. Don’t let this person push your buttons.Simply disengage from the conversation. If they forcefully impose their point of view, just say “sure” and then get out of there. When you deprive them of opposition, they have nothing left to fight about. They love to see you get upset, so don’t get upset (it takes the fun out of it for them). Just walk away instead. It’s the best way to take away their joy and diminish their power.

The back stabber. This character may be the sneakiest of all because you may be unaware that they are ruining your reputation by saying negative things about your work or about you personally. You literally won’t see it coming because they are talking behind your back. You can diffuse the situation by making sure that you have good relationships with others who know the value of your work and your integrity in general. Once they know you are in good standing, they will be less likely to pay attention to rumours.

Negative Nelly. We’ve all known people who see the worst in every situation. There’s a word for these people: Toxic! We’ve all heard the saying that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel. Well it’s true. Misery loves company. Unless you avoid this person, you will start to become just like them. Don’t let them take your joy. They are never happy, and even when things are going well, they dredge up old problems so they can fuel their perpetual campaign of misery. Instead, surround yourself by people who are content with life and will also encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

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