Yes, Even Advisors Get Bullied!

By Beverly Flaxington

March 25, 2014

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

 

Dear Bev,

I hesitate to send this because I do not want my name published, but I am a financial advisor who is being bullied in my office. I don’t want to be driven out of my job, but the truth is that I cannot sleep, have constant anxiety and feel like I am working under war-like conditions. I have tried everything to shore up my confidence, but I can’t stop the onslaught of vitriol that comes at me every day. Any sage advice?

Name withheld


Dear Financial Advisor,

First of all – to all our readers – if anyone writes a “private” message and asks that his or her name be withheld, I will always honor that request.

The bullying you are referring to is a very real and all-too-common situation in the workplace. Much is written about kids being bullied in school, but the problem extends to working professionals in many industries. I have received countless letters from people who have been bullied by bosses or co-workers and have lost their confidence as a result.

So, what to do? It sounds like the situation has affected your health and well-being. It would be simple to say, “No job is worth it!” but I understand that quitting is not often an option. And as I like to say to my own children when they face a bully, you don’t want to give the bully the advantage of knowing they have driven you away!

As with most people-related problems, every situation is different. I will offer some proven techniques, and you can figure out which ones will work best for you.

  1. In some cases, isolating one of the leaders of the aggression and having an “outside of the office” conversation works well. This doesn’t mean inviting this person into the back alley behind your office! Rather, ask the person to go for a cup of coffee or walk to a nearby shop with you to pick something up. Most bullies are covering up hurt and insecurity. Sometimes if you can have a one-to-one conversation and ask the person to stop the hurtful behavior, you can open a dialogue that starts to turn things in a different direction.
  2. Build your own internal resource base. You can exercise, practice yoga or meditation, use positive self-talk, listen to uplifting music on your way to work (no negative talk shows!) or keep photos of your kids, pets or places you love near your desk. Surround yourself with uplifting and positive messages.
  3. Create a resource base in your office or out of your office. If there is anyone else you can reach out to and bond with in the office, do so. Invite another colleague, not in this group, to lunch a few times a week. If there is no one who seems safe in the office, find colleagues in other companies that you can meet for lunch or coffee. Get out of the environment and talk with people who are supportive of you.
  4. Join a group or club in your industry or area, such as Toastmasters, a local CFA Group or FPA group. Get involved. Find organizations and groups who are active and turn your attention to improving your circle and your career. The more options you open up outside, the less tied you will be to your current situation.
  5. If possible, get out and visit clients and prospects or even work from home a few times a week. Minimize your exposure to those people in the office and spend time elsewhere.

 

One thing about a bullying experience is that if you find strategies to survive and thrive with it, you can develop confidence and skills that are useful in any aspect of your life. In the meantime, I realize it is difficult and wish you the best of luck.

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