I spent a good chunk of today and yesterday hosting a workshop on workplace bullying at Suffolk University Law School here in Boston. The goal of the workshop was to give feedback, advice, and suggestions to a group of individuals who are devoting time and energy to responding to workplace bullying through public education initiatives, publications, and law reform advocacy. Although I had high hopes for the gathering based on the list of participants, I wasn’t quite sure what the collective chemistry would produce.
I am pleased to report that it was a very stimulating, intense, and moving experience, infused with genuine fellowship and even moments of humor. We covered a lot of ground during our conversations, and the interactions and exchange among our participants made for an honest and gently respectful learning environment.
- Ellen Pinkos Cobb discussed her global resource guide, Workplace Bullying, Violence, Harassment, Discrimination and Stress: International Laws, Developments, and Resources (2015 ed.). Ellen’s book is a superb compilation of relevant legal protections.
- Jay Fedigan discussed his planned documentary on workplace bullying, a multi-year project that will look at this phenomenon from multiple perspectives, including the legislative campaign for the Healthy Workplace Bill in Massachusetts. I have known Jay for many years, and I am delighted that he is devoting some of his talents to this new project.
- Carol Ann Geary discussed her workshops and programs on workplace bullying for librarians. Carol was prominently featured in a 2014 Boston Globe article on workplace bullying and the Healthy Workplace Bill.
- Steven Lawrence discussed how his work on servant leadership and organizations relates to workplace bullying. He also detailed why he recommends Suzette Haden Elgin’s book, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work (1999), for dealing with bullying-type behaviors on the job.
- Tanya Sidawi-Ostojic discussed her research on Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder and its relationship to workplace bullying. Tanya is building upon the work of Dr. Michael Linden, who first proposed the diagnosis of PTED for many of those who have experienced traumatic events.
- Jessica Stensrud discussed her emerging leadership role in bringing the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill to Rhode Island. Jessica is a long-time activist who is helping to expand our legislative advocacy efforts.
Serving as discussants were Eunice Aviles, Torii Bottomley, Deb Falzoi, Denise Bartholomew Gilligan, Henry Jung, and Greg Sorozan, all of whom brought plenty of experience and wisdom to our discussion. We also were joined by Katie Fedigan, who helped her father Jay with some of the filming.
For several participants, being a part of this gathering called upon them to dig deep into wells of courage, for their own experiences of being bullying targets were part of our conversations. We specially thank them for their contributions to our understanding.
This workshop only bolstered my enthusiasm for smaller, in-person gatherings that encourage genuine dialogue and exchange. For more on that, see my earlier post from this month, “The power of face-to-face dialogue for change agents.”