She was intimidating - twenty years older than my 23 summers - but I had to confront her.I was her manager and her bullying of another female member of staff had to stop.Known for having her finger firmly attached to the workplace 'emotional temperature dial', she was apt to scream and shout, but also cunningly find and push any emotional buttons unwittingly presented to her.At least one colleague had been made tearful by this woman in the last week alone. Feeling like Gary Cooper in minus the glamour, heroism, or glory, I'd been rehearsing what I was going to say all morning.I thought I had no particular fear of confrontation, but with her I wasn't so sure. She looked at me scornfully as if to say: "I may have to be here, but I don't have to listen. I've always felt that undue emotion should be kept out of the workplace, just as we should refrain from pouring cement mix into a car fuel tank if we're actually trying to get somewhere."What's all this about then?" The growl was foreboding, like a warning rumble from a stumbled upon grizzly.But having determined to stay calm, I surprised myself by suddenly feeling angry. should been bullying, manipulating, and caring not a jot how others felt?
There is an in-built mechanism within non-psychopathic males which has them immediately crumple into desperate capitulation the moment a woman starts to cry.To my shame, I backpedalled a little, tried to focus on her good points (even created a few that had never been evident) - all because the waterworks had switched on.But she'd wrong-footed me, softened me up - and now she leapt back with a vengeance. Millions of years of human evolution rolled back in a blink of an eye.When the toys were well and truly ejected from the pram, she flounced from the room.
She wasn't the sort to generously give away the last word: "No one ever, EVER speaks to me like that! I could have handled it better, but it's hard to appeal to a better nature when it's so meticulously hidden.
Most people you'll need to confront will be more reasonable; they may even be good friends to whom something just needs to be said.