It’s been over a year since I finished writing my personal bullying stories from my youth on my blog. For those of you that might not have read them, you can see all of them listed by going to my tag called Bully Incident or CLICKING HERE.
Given all the feedback I have received and the stories about workplace bullying I’ve heard, I realized that this is also an issue. While I consider that I have been fairly lucky in my 20 years of working to have only dealt with minor workplace bullying, I thought I’d add a few more personal stories here about my experiences later in life with workplace bullying.
My first story, I realized, was actually my first real interview after I got out of college. By the time I got out of college I had been working since I was sixteen in different jobs and didnt’ consider myself new to the job market (mistake #1). I also had done two summers working in my career field and felt that, combined with the several years at the student run television station at college equalled work experience in my field for me (mistake #2). So, I put together what I considered a pretty good resume and proceeded to send it to many, many, many, many places.
Finally I got my first interview at a small video studio right down the street from me. Boy was I excited! In fact, if I recall, I went out to get a new suit so I could look sharp and professional for the interview. The day of the interview I was pretty confident. I had done my research and it was a small video production studio with a small staff. I felt it was similar to my summer and college experiences. I showed up a few minutes early. I do recall the place was not anything fancy. It was a small space in a multi-floor building.
There was no receptionist. I was to meet the General Manager of the place. Someone came out to tell me to take a seat and that he would be with me. My interview was at 2pm and I sat down to wait at about 1:50pm.
I waited and waited. No one came out to see me to update me. First interview, so I didn’t want to make a scene so I just sat there. About an hour late the General Manager finally came out. No apology, just a wave to come back.
He sat behind his desk. I sat in a chair facing his desk. He was all smiles. He was looking at my resume and asked me to discuss my experience with him. I told him about my summer work at a production studio and my experience at collge with the student station. I started to talk about what I was looking for.
‘Hold it there…’ he said to me. Then he said something that I will never forget to this day. ‘Let me tell you something about working in this field, because you don’t know anything about working in this field. You college kids think you’ve learned something. You put together this resume that says you have experience. You don’t have anything. You don’t know anything. You don’t even belong at this interview. If you want to work here, what you need to do is go work for free for a few years in New York or Los Angeles. Be a gofer and get coffee while learning this business. Then, maybe you could come back here and interview with me…’
I felt like a fist just hit me in the face (similar isn’t it). I think I was in shock for a minute. I turned and left, never looking back, still shocked and amazed.
What a bully this guy was. The whole waiting in his lobby. First calling me in for the interview, knowing I would be excited to be there was a form of bullying. Making me sit there was a form of bullying. Then, the words used to try to cut me down was a form of bullying. Luckily for me, I had gotten over being defeated and he just egged me on to succeed. I still find it hard to believe this happened. I’m happy to say it’s the only interview it happened on.
I thought back on this some time later and recalled something I heard an industry leader, Dick Clark, say in an interview. He told a story about a time early in his career when many many people would not give him a job and were cruel. He started a list of all these people. When he became successful, he taped that list on his desk. Inevitably people on that list who didn’t give him a chance and were mean to him came in to work with the now successful Dick Clark. When they wanted to meet with him, he refused. He wasn’t going to do business with any of them. The lesson, why, even when you are in power and the big fish in the little pond, would you be cruel and a bully. Later on, the person you did that to could be just the person you need to help you. A good lesson to learn, but don’t learn it too late.