Abuse is never funny…except for twice in my life when it has been.
Other than those two times, I am horrified by abuse, be it physical, verbal or otherwise. Working in the corporate environment has taught me that abuse can exist anywhere and that people who are cruel will find anyone they can to torture. (Would that I was speaking of sexual harassment; I could write this blog from my mountain house while being fed grapes by my personal butler.) Some people in this world, especially people who find themselves with a modicum of power, truly enjoy putting down the lackeys and peons below them.
As a lackey, I have been made to personally apologize for failing at my job when being too slow with a flavored espresso order. I have been patronized for making jokes and shamed for asking legitimate questions. There are a couple of people in senior management positions who only use small words around me for fear of my confusion. While these actions are not on par with throwing someone down the stairs, they are bullying and intentionally unkind. They are designed to make me, or whoever is on the receiving end of them, feel small. In a double whammy, I feel ashamed both for having not ordered the espresso in time and for taking the shit that a bully throws my way.
I obviously don’t have any answers or I wouldn’t be sitting at this reception desk, but I have learned a few things from being bullied and punished for my personality at work. It’s important to be universally kind, no matter how terrible my day is going. It’s important to pay attention to what other people say and how they say it. And it is important to not internalize the opinions of others. Hear them, listen to them, and disregard anything intentionally mean or spiteful.
Every boss who yells is not necessarily in the wrong. Sometimes, there is a perfectly valid reason for getting one’s ass served on a platter. But if the reason is that the legal partner in one’s firm wasn’t hugged enough in his formative years, it’s important not to take that to heart.