I Was Bullied By My Supervisor, And This Is How I Learned To Speak Up

by Desiree Johnson

For most of us, working is not necessarily a luxury, but a means of survival. Having a job isn't even the thrilling rite of passage it used to be. Sure, making your own money is an exciting endeavor to embark on, but for Millennials, it's just synonymous with existing.

Being a working Millennial can be rough. Most jobs today don't pay enough to support living expenses and the carefree lifestyles we desire. Sometimes, we're forced to have multiple jobs, or we force ourselves to become privy to a job that can be more of a headache than we expected. Many of us understand the burden of staying in a lackluster job for a paycheck, but if you're lucky, you get the added bonus of great co-workers and a good boss.

Everyone has a different definition of what an exceptional boss is, and most of the time, we can agree it's someone who works with your schedule, builds team moral, is decently friendly and doesn't make your life hell.

While not all supervisors are perfect, they do help to iron out the finer details of the workplace and make it less hectic, depending on where you work. If you've ever had a lackluster boss, though, you know this single person can trump even the crappiest of co-workers and make even the simplest of jobs living hells.

If you're like me and are working to pay everything from rent to credit card bills, then hell is not the place you want to be in.

I've been working since the age of 16 and have had every type of job possible, including restaurant hostess, work-study librarian, car dealership receptionist and so on. The glamour of working to live is a reality I find myself in until I can once again be released into the full-time, 9-to-5 job reality I'm hoping my degree will afford me.

I've always had a good working relationship with my employers and co-workers, even if the job itself wasn't ideal in terms of responsibilities, pay or location. And believe me, there have been plenty of those in my life.

I can say there are jobs I've had where the relationships and environment created by my co-workers and bosses helped propel my day and change my attitude from negative to positive. That's because we were all in it together.

This past year, however, I experienced a supervisor who tested every facet of my character and persona in the workplace. I dreaded even being in this person's presence because I knew I'd be bullied.

Now, when I say bullied, I mean picked at, demeaned and talked down to in such a way that I either had to walk away because I didn't want to lose my job, or go to the bathroom because I wanted to cry.

For whatever reason, I had a boss who took pleasure in picking at my particular style of clothes and personality. This person even went so far as to correct my speaking voice and challenge my education in writing and English. The sad thing is, while I was not the only recipient of his verbal abuse and judgement, I was the only one moved enough to speak up about it to other supervisors.

I learned enough about my rights in the workplace to acknowledge that despite our individual differences, I was nobody's punching bag. I was a hardworking employee worthy of the respect I gave to the job and to him.

Regardless of any personal differences, I was not deserving of this ill treatment. I was in such discomfort that I was going to quit my job based off of my daily interactions with this singular supervisor.

After discussion with my other supervisors about my sentiments and feelings (which I was scared to do at first), I learned that being honest about my discomfort was the only way real change was going to happen. I was fortunate to have additional bosses who recognized and sympathized with my feelings and did not want me to quit based off these interactions with a supervisor who was creating hell for everyone.

It was nice to be reminded of my valued position within the company and to have it reinforced. My work ethic was recognized, despite this person's constant attempts to bring me down. My supervisors took my complaints seriously and ensured me action was going to be taken to correct said behavior, and it was.

Speaking up — even if indirectly to a supervisor — helped me achieve a more comfortable work experience. I also had the realization one person and his opinions of me shouldn't break my attitude, spirit or employment in the facility.

I'll forever remember my time with him as a learning lesson in labor. While I cannot make everyone like me or get along with me, I am still worthy of equal treatment and respect in my work environment.