Second Hand Smoke

May 31, 2019

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I've always believed silence means consensus.  It means if I don't speak up, I concur with what is being said.  I have also always considered myself a person committed to standing up for others.  But recently I realized I missed a major opportunity to do so with a friend and former co-worker.  At the time, we were both working for a bully who was talented but led with fear and intimidation vs. inspiration.  Gratefully, I previously had the opportunity to stand up to this bully when we were peers.  Subsequently, when it came time to work for this person, I didn't have many issues.  


Second Hand Smoke

To be clear, I wasn't thrilled to be working for this person, but also knew that because I already had confronted him in the past, we should be able to work together.  I didn't need to like this person, rather simply build the relationship to the size it needed to be to get the work done.  After all, it wasn't the first time I worked for someone who liked to lead with fear and intimidation.  

And that worked out OK, until it didn't.  Until I watched this leader bully a friend and co-worker.  I sat by and heard him get verbally beat up almost weekly by this leader.  And I didn't do anything about it.  I didn't try to stop it.  I made up the lie in my head that it wasn't my responsibility to intervene.  Especially if my co-worker wasn't doing anything about it.  

What I know now is that I should have intervened.  Not only for my friend's sake, but also for my sake.  What I know now is that as my co-worker was getting abused, and when I heard it, I was also getting abused.  Second hand.  Though the harsh words and bullying weren't directed at me, it was still impacting me.  Just like second hand smoke.  And similar to second hand smoke, second hand abuse impacts us. It can hold us back from living our best lives and helping others.  

I missed an opportunity then, but I won't again in the future.  I am committed to supporting others...encouraging people to succeed.  That's my purpose.  That includes a commitment to others and myself....no more second hand "smoke" in my airspace.  

Want to learn how to better handle confrontation in a way that gets the work done AND builds relationships?  Join us at the next public workshop of Enabling Purpose Through Relationship™.

Kate Johnson
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