The answer to workplace hostility is mindfulness and consciousness of one’s own behavior. Nasty bosses and coworkers can’t see their behavior or the impact that it has on those around them. In other words, they’re “out of it” or “out of their minds.” Below are examples of real ones who sit at group desks in shared workspaces. These people actually exist and these stories are true.
Jane* sat at a group desk in the Lowe’s cabinet department with her new coworker, a trainee, whom she was supposed to train but refused under various false pretenses. The trainee called someone else from her phone and Jane* angrily whipped around in her chair and roared: “What did you do now?!?!”
“What did you do now?!?!”
Jill* at Precision Cabinets and Trim sat in a group cubicle with her new coworker, also a trainee, whom she was also supposed to train but refused under various false pretenses. However, she didn’t have time to eavesdrop like Jane* because she was too busy calling all of her friends to ask if they had any leftover Vicodin, a prescription drug that her doctor had stopped authorizing for her months earlier. To compound the situation she was dishonest, and so when the owner of the company called her to ask how the trainee was doing she actually answered the question even though had no idea what was going on, and she did it right in front of the trainee and she didn’t even care.
The worst bullies are sexual predators such as Alan who supervised the Decor department at The Home Depot and juggled sexual relations with two of his employees. One of the women, Gina, openly bragged about it across the entire store in order to establish clout and power over her coworkers. The other woman quietly filed a sexual harassment report at the manager’s office. Eventually someone informed Alan’s wife who worked at The Home Depot twenty miles away. CEO Bob Nardelli got involved and his legal team transferred the quiet victim to a different store. Then they handled the brazen hussy: They kept Gina at the same store but they forced her to work in the tile aisle where she lifted 50 pound bags of mastic and boxes of tile all day. It took them a couple of weeks but they eventually fired Alan. He denied his affair with Gina even though it was common knowledge, and he said that his affair with the silent victim was consensual. He lost both his job and his wife who quickly moved in with her parents and filed for divorce.
Over a hundred years ago, during the industrial revolution, factory owners understood that employees had mental illnesses and closet substance abuse addictions that had an impact on their coworkers. In some ways they were better at dealing with it than we do today. For example, they assigned female supervisors to large groups of workers who were all female. They had a common sense approach, but putting that aside, they also had the bible which was enforced by peer pressure and the threat of being excommunicated from one’s church. What would have happened to married male factory supervisors who got caught committing adultery with employees? Losing their job was only the tip of the iceberg.