“A STATE government survey of thousands of Victorian public servants found that 36 per cent had witnessed workplace bullying in the past year.
A further 20 per cent said they had directly experienced bullying, while 3 per cent had also submitted a formal complaint.”
As a newly minted ex-public servant, this makes my blood boil. I wish it were astounding or something, but instead it just makes me roll my eyes. My experience of the public service (which is of 3 Departments) was that of mollycoddling, an obsession with everybody’s wellbeing and happiness, often to the detriment of any actual progress. There is no focus on accountability, outcomes, things to be done - there is no such thing as not having enough to do, apparently. We were all, by definition as public servants, over-worked, under-resourced, and endowed with superb skills and experience. This all warranted yearly pay rises, career progression, and justified (or required) a constant focus on helping ourselves to move up the ladder – the countless hours I spent, filling out more and more performance plans with examples of my capabilities, skills, designed to show that I meet criteria to move up.. it’s infuriating. Let me do some goddamn work.
I am sure that there are some areas of the public service where “bullying” – whatever that means – is prevalent. But if we, as a community, are going to discuss it and engage in debate about it, and cut careers short and vilify people for engaging in it, we need to actually define it. Because at the moment, some incidences of “bullying” would fall into the category of stalking and assault. Let’s deal with them as such. And others fall more into ‘people being overly sensitive’, and encouraging a culture of encouragement for that is something that both irks and scares me. It’s a slippery slope, and like all such things, once it becomes apparent, it’s too late to do anything to stop it.
In the couple of weeks since starting my job, I have heard and seen in writing a number of accusations of bullying. Some of them are incidents that I either witnessed or heard about, from the accuser.
What do you do when someone over-reacts to somebody else’s bad mood or gruff tone, and raises accusations of bullying and harassment? I have sat listening to somebody explain their outrage at the “way they were treated”, thinking to myself ‘.. right…’. On one hand, how horrible, to feel bullied so easily. On the other, what the hell is wrong with you? Grow up. Don’t be so fucking ridiculous – sometimes you need to just roll your eyes, shake your head, think ‘wow, that guy’s an idiot’, and get on with your day. Maybe have a bitch to the girl sitting next to you, text your partner about how you hate your job, and .. get on with it. But god, bullying??
The commentary around the Charlotte Dawson twitter “controversy” irritated me in the same way that listening to my grandma talking about how dangerous public transport and overseas travel are, what with all the gangs and violence and everything going to hell, oh shit, we’re all going to die. (And it won’t be at the hands of anyone white!) If all you read is the Herald Sun and all you choose to process is reports of violence, the world must seem like a scary place. But If you haven’t been on public transport for 20 years and your experience of it is confined to other people talking about all the immigrants and gangs that are just waiting to prey on you, the minute you set foot on a tram (at 8am, on the way to work, etc), perhaps you.. don’t really get it.
Listening to various media commentators using the word ‘troll’ for what is really someone being a dick on the internet, is like listening to my father talk computers. Download the hardware and input the plug in on the application, etc. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN. What do you mean! Jesus, before spewing forth these sentences of misplaced words and vocabulary, let’s go through what they mean. Then, let’s talk.