"My own experience at the hands of a bully was horrendous at best," writes Magalia resident Judith Munson, but she's not talking about the schoolyard variety. "Alligators In The Water Cooler" ($15.99 in paperback from Xlibris, with illustrations by Larry Foss of Paradise) refers to men and women in the workplace who "choose to bully others, passively or aggressively, often causing emotional pain or physical illness." Baby alligators stuffed into a water cooler might be a joke, but the alligator-like bully--"a menacing predator, opportunist, solitary and territorial"--is no joke at all. (There's more information at www.workplaceintimidation.com.)
Munson is scheduled to be interviewed by Nancy Wiegman on Nancy's Bookshelf this Saturday. The program airs at 4:30 p.m. on Northstate Public Radio, KCHO, 91.7 FM. She will also be signing copies of her book at Lyon Books in Chico on Tuesday, June 15, from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
"Contrary to popular belief," Munson notes, "upper management and supervisors are not always the bullies that are making your life miserable. It is often your co-workers who are the culprits. They can draw you in and gain your trust then freeze you out of the inner circle."
The heart of the book helps readers identify some of the many types of workplace bullies and offers remedies (ranging from peacemaking communication to filing documented complaints to leaving the job altogether). Aggressive personalities may use outright intimidation or threats against the worker or "jump on any mistake with negative feedback."
More passive types are especially dangerous because the abuse is often hidden. "The mental and physical damage piles up, and the source is often not known or dealt with for a long time, if ever." The "potshot taker" uses "jabs, humor, sarcasm, and verbal sparring to put others down," "eavesdrops on conference calls" and "talk behind other people's backs." The "destructive storyteller" is a rumor-monger who spreads innuendos about workplace relationships or salaries.
Then there is the "alligator mob," usually coordinated by a single person, in which "co-workers, colleagues, superiors, or subordinates malign" the dignity of the worker, calling his or her integrity or competence into question. Self-confidence shattered, the worker often leaves.
Munson offers a calm voice and sensible guidance for "climbing out of the swamp." She's been there.