Bullying is Expensive

Workplace bullying is extremely expensive for employers. There is lost productivity of the bullying victim. Once the victim leaves, the company has to spend time and money finding a replacement. Then there is a cost because it takes a while before the new employee learns the ropes and becomes productive. But the largest cost is the loss of engagement that affects everyone.

An engaged and enthusiastic employee is more than twice as productive as a disengaged one. When people witness bullying happen to others, and they see no intervention from the company, they become disengaged. If the company is not protecting your colleague from bullying, do they really care about you? That’s why allowing just one bully drags the whole department down. And that’s why it is good business and should be a leadership priority to root out bullying.

Celebrate Success

Here in Denmark, we are celebrating our Oscar for “Best Foreign Movie” today. Well, most of us didn’t really contribute anything, but we can all enjoy Thomas Winterberg’s success with “Another Round.”

You can also celebrate other people’s success. I’m unlikely to win an Oscar, but I can still feel happy for those who do.

When someone around you is successful, examine how you feel. It is common for people who have suffered bullying or other emotional trauma to feel resentment for other people’s success. But being unhappy that someone else got the promotion or won the audition is adding unnecessary pain to your life. If you have that feeling, tell yourself you are happy for their success. If that feels too hard, tell yourself that you pretend to feel happy. it might sound silly, but simply telling your brain to pretend to be happy cancels the negativity so you are at least not adding to your unhappiness.

There are many successful people in the world. Share in their success.

Start a Book Today

Reading a book can change your life. I have read several books that have had a huge impact on my life, and I have written one that readers tell me have had a huge impact on their lives.

Today is World Book Day. If you’re not already reading a book with the potential to change your life, pick one up today. If you have ever been bullied or had other traumatic experiences, I recommend my own “Life after Bullying.” It contains the method and tools I have developed over many years as I fought my way out of the long-term consequences of severe childhood bullying.

It’s on sale at Amazon.com (https://vester.li/wbd21), and many other bookstores are also running promotions. Get a book today.

Playing it Safe

Do you always play it safe? We all have our personal risk profiles. Some people climb mountains without safety ropes, while others won’t climb more than two steps up a ladder. People who suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem, like bullying victims, tend to be the most risk-averse. In a pandemic, being careful to adhere to all the guidelines is useful. But in life in general, being over-cautious means you miss out on things you could safely have done.

Researchers in the UK were working with a group of 400 children and found that teaching them chess decreased their risk aversion. In the game of chess, you need to be able to take prudent risks – maybe sacrificing a piece to gain a decisive advantage. Chess was a safe environment for the children to experiment with risk – the worst thing that could happen was that they lost the game.

If you are feeling risk aversion is holding you back, look for a similar safe environment where you can practice taking small risks. If you are anxious about speaking to strangers, join a club or association where everybody has an interest in common. In this environment, it will be easier to ask a stranger a question because you can expect everybody to want to share their knowledge and love of your common subject.

Track Your Sleep

Do you know how much or how little you sleep? Not sleeping enough increases your risk of dementia. Adding to the already long list of diseases and problems associated with too little sleep, researchers in the UK has demonstrated a correlation between too little sleep and increased dementia risk. After controlling for a long range of other health factors, they found that 50-year-olds who slept six hours or less per night had a 22% increased risk of developing dementia. For 60-year-olds, the risk went up by 37%.

Keep track of your sleep for a few weeks to get an idea of whether you are sleeping enough. There are many options for sleep tracking. The Apple watch and several other types of wristwatches register your sleep. You can also get sensors to place under your mattress or even a radar you place on your bedside table to track your movement during the night. But even if you don’t have any of these fancy devices, you can simply write in your journal when you started your evening wind-down, when you went to bed and when you got up. Spending some time winding down (without devices or TV) and spending enough time in bed is the first step towards better sleep.

If you don’t get enough sleep, it is very hard to make any change in your life.

Create Your Own Sound

Create your own sound. I don’t mean you have to gather a few friends and create an indie band, though that can certainly be rewarding for some people. But the sounds around you affect your mental state. Most of us don’t live in the countryside where you only heard birdsong and the buzzing of bees. Working from home, we are free of the hellish soundscape of the open plan office, but we often live in urban surroundings. We have traffic noise, neighbors, barking dogs, and maybe even our partner speaking too loudly on a Zoom call.

You are unconsciously listening and processing all of these sounds. That takes energy that could be used for something more useful. To get more done, personally and professionally, create your own sound surroundings. If possible, avoid headphones. Consider a small indoor fountain to create the soothing sound of running water. There are “white noise machines” that emit a constant low-volume noise that masks other noises in your environment. Or you can play instrumental music at low volume through your computer speakers or a separate speaker connected to your phone.

Sound affects your mood and your productivity. Don’t just accept the sound the world pushes upon you. Create your own sound like you create your own life.

Train Your Brain

Are you getting smarter or dumber? If you’re not challenging your brain, it loses power just like muscles you don’t use. The physiology is completely different, but research shows that we can add more brain cells by using our brains just like we can add more muscle mass by using our muscles.

Because it takes so much energy to run a human brain, the body is always looking for shortcuts. Routines and habits mean that you don’t have to think – you just do as you normally do. It is your job to keep your brain fit by giving it new challenges. You don’t have to learn a new language or to play the piano, but you should always have something new to keep your brain fresh and interested. What new skill or challenge will you give your brain to work on this weekend?

Write it Down

Don’t let your bullying complaint evaporate. When you have been subjected to bulling or other inappropriate behavior, put down in writing what happened. That has two important effects. First, it makes your mind less likely to keep reminding you of the incident. Second, it allows you create a complaint that cannot evaporate.

When something important happens, good or bad, your mind recognizes it. Because it is important, your minds wants to hold on to it. That means it will regularly remind you in order to refresh the memory. For good memories, that is great. For bad experiences, you want to tell your mind that you got this on paper, so you don’t need any more reminders.

The people in your organization’s HR department or the school district have lots of things to worry about. If you report bullying, your important report might get lost in a pile of less important, but seemingly more urgent, tasks. But once a report is in writing, it cannot easily evaporate. It becomes a record in a system. There are people who will be evaluated on whether they address the complaints in that system. And if complaints about specific people pile up, they are more likely to be taken to task.

Improve Your Sleep

Sleeping too little is bad for your health in a thousand ways. Trying to catch up by spending the weekend in bed is not a long-term solution.

Notice what time you wake up on Saturday and Sunday without an alarm clock. If that is not about the same time you get up on work days, your sleep rhythm is disturbed and needs fixing.

To improve it, go to bed ridiculously early each day next week. Seriously early, like a 8 or 9 PM. Make a note of when you wake up fully rested. If that is not before your usual time, you have a sleep deficit you need to address. Keep going to bed very early until you wake up before you have to. Then you can start adjusting – if you want to get up at 7AM and you wake at 5AM, you can go to bed two hours later. A good sleep rhythm is necessary condition for health and success.

Sometimes You Need Help

Sometimes you do need help. I try to provide useful self-help advice for everybody who follow me on social media, but if you have a serious issue, you will need to work individually with someone.

One point where my American friends are ahead of us here in Europe is that there is little or no stigma attached to visiting a psychologist in the US. In Europe, it would be very surprising to hear someone in casual conversation say “as I told my therapist…”

I want to make it as easy as possible to work with me, so you can simply click a button on my website to set up a free 20-minute call. Or click this link: https://vester.li/i05. I’m here if you need me.