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    Inspired to extend a helping hand to ambitious women working in corporate America, a veteran executive offers honest, practical, slightly irreverent advice about navigating companies that are run and populated predominately by men: how to interpret their sometimes surprising behavior, avoid common mistakes, flourish with the good guys, deal with the bad guys, and nurture a wonderful, satisfying career in a non-traditional role.

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  • TABLE OF CONTENTS

    The Spirit of the Discreet Guide
    FIRST PRINCIPLES
    The Facts of Life
    In and Out of the Men’s Room
    Tuning In and Dropping Out
    Hold It Right There, Lady
    Skeptical Spectacles and a Critical-Thinking Cap
    YOUR SISTAS AND YOU
    Whose Girl Are You?
    Taking Care
    You’re Different, and That’s Only Mostly Bad
    Impressions and the Real Thing
    Sistas
    EARLY MANEUVERS
    School Days
    Your First Company
    The Cubette
    NAVIGATION TIPS
    Guiding Lights
    The Big C’s: Competition, Challenge, and Conflict
    DANGER—FALLING COCONUTS
    Sit Down and Shut Up
    How Do You Get Anything Done?
    He Doesn’t Think You’re Very Smart
    But Don’t Be Dumb
    TOUCHY SUBJECTS
    After Hours
    One-on-One: Danger Zones
    Sex At Work
    GUYS, GUYS, GUYS
    The Big Guy
    The Good Guys
    International Guys
    The Messed-Up Ones
    Bad Guys
    Super Bad Guys
    YOU’RE A BIG GIRL NOW
    Managing—Between a Rock and a Hard Place
    Work—Why You’re Paid
    THE EXECUTIVE WOMAN’S DILEMMA
    What? I Can’t Hear You
    Courage
    Common Sense
    A Powerful Combination
    THE PRIDE OF THE LIONESS
    Power and Risk
    Leadership
    THE DIAMOND

Bullies: Excerpt from The Discreet Guide

[from Chapter Seven “Guys, Guys, Guys”]

 

If you work with a lot of men, you’re likely to encounter a bully. These insecure men try to get their way by force and intimidation. They use their body and their voice in a threatening manner to cow other employees and get them to back down. They’re quick to anger and have found that yelling and threatening are effective tools in the workplace. In my experience, they aren’t very bright and suffer from a lack of verbal skills. When they’re outgunned intellectually or verbally, they resort to bullying to gain a superior position. They tend to be emotional and unhappy.

Sadly, you can feel sorry for a bully, but you can’t put up with him. Yelling and threatening behaviors create a bad work environment. People who work for a bully won’t confront him; they disengage, and the company suffers from their lack of involvement. Some people prefer to leave than put up with a bully. In many ways, bullies cost the company money.

Some men only bully “down” the organization; they focus on people who are lower on the totem pole. But don’t be surprised if someone tries to bully you even if you’re at a higher level than he is. Some men prefer to bully a woman because she’s an easy target, and they think she won’t fight back. If this happens to you, what are your options?

First, identify the behavior as true bullying. Bullying isn’t just yelling—there’s lots of yelling at work that isn’t bullying. Bullying is when you can never have a civilized disagreement with him, and he always resorts to violence and threatening behavior to get his way. When someone consistently yells at you as a way to shut you up, that’s bullying. He’s trying to keep you from doing your job.

Once you’ve made a positive I.D., choose your strategy. You could start by telling him he’s a bully and see if he can stop it once he’s been outed. You might also try yelling back—not out of control, but really loud—to see what happens. To my enormous surprise, that has actually worked for me. For some reason, my bullies just folded once I yelled at them. I was truly flabbergasted. If that doesn’t work, you may have to get human resources or your management involved. You can’t just put up with it. It hinders your ability to do your job, so it has to be stopped.

 

© 2012 Jennifer K. Crittenden

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    Raised on a farm in southern Indiana by an idealistic professor and a feminist homemaker, and after language and film studies in Europe, Jennifer was an unlikely candidate to graduate from a leading business school and enter corporate America. To her surprise, she excelled in her new world and spent the next twenty years building a scintillating career, rising from Financial Analyst to Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary, working for big pharma and biotech companies in the US, Europe, and the UK.

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