Bullying and PTSD in the Workplace

Workplace PTSD has been studied from several different angles, including causes of and reactions to physical violence; the impact of stress on sick leave and turnover; and conflict resolution techniques that go beyond mere disciplinary action.
I’ve been surprised to discover that there is also a literature on the causes and effects of bullying, in the workplace and in the schools.
The Andrea Adams Trust has identified the following characteristics of a workplace bully:
* unwarranted, humiliating, offensive behaviour towards an individual or groups of employees
* persistently negative malicious attacks on personal or professional performance which are typically unpredictable, unfair, irrational and often unseen
* an abuse of power or position that can cause such anxiety that people gradually lose all belief in themselves, suffering physical ill health and mental distress as a direct result
* the use of position or power to coerce others by fear or persecution, or to oppress them by force or threat.

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There’s a Howdy-Doo

I’ve reached my limit with the vain and the pretentious.
Earlier today, I had a phone conversation with a youngish-sounding gentleman who was, to say the least, self-effacing and low-key.
He invited me to meet with him next week; I thanked him for the courtesy and we set a day and time.
Little did I realize that he’s the CEO of his company and has written articles for MSDN and other industry magazines which can be readily characterized as influential.
How very nice to interact with someone who has absolutely nothing left to prove.

Godfather III

I liked The Godfather Part III very much and had the great privilege of meeting Francis Ford Coppola immediately after the film’s release.
For all its supposed faults, III gave us one of the best lines from any movie, ever: “Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.”
And on the subject of III, I thought Sophia Coppola, who was eviscerated by the critics*, was a much better actor than Talia Shire.
So, there.
*Ms. Coppola was vindicated several years later when her film “Lost in Translation” won an Academy award for best original screenplay and a Golden Globe for Best Picture, her redemption (III’s principle theme) thus proving that life, indeed, does imitate art.

Scanners at the Market

A few years ago – about four, in fact – I was a “student” (did you know that “taliban” means “student”?) in an entrepreneurship program and wanted to write a business plan that proposed using scanners for supermarket shopping.
The leader of the course – an arrogant Babson college MBA with a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood (he had a gigantic sign, “No Irish Need Apply” in the office of his $700,000 home and wrote the final presentation for a guy he favored, meanwhile throwing the rest of us under the bus) – said it was a stupid idea and I should drop it.
Well, our local Stop & Shop here in the boonies has just introduced scanner shopping.
Apparantly unbeknownst to the know-it-all MBA, Stop & Shop has been experimenting with consumer scanning devices since 2003, when they piloted the Shopping Buddy in a few stores. The Shopping Buddy was a pricey portable computer mounted on a shopping cart.
The Mashpee store uses hand-held Symbol scanners with memory and an easy-to-read display. At the store entrance, you scan your Stop & Shop card and are assigned a unit.
As you shop, you scan in your items, and the device keeps a running total of your bill plus your savings. It also displays unadvertised discounts based on your past shopping habits.
You bag your items as you go, and the system also lets you easily delete any item you want to put back.
Produce is about the only department in the store that isn’t barcoded, but they figured that out, too, by installing a scale and a printer in the produce department.
When you get to the checkout – either staffed or self-serve – you scan the reader once more, and your order is automatically downloaded to the register.
It was a lot of fun, and only one thing about the experience vexed me: as I was in one of the aisles, I heard the beep of another scanner. When I turned around, it was a thirty-something, techie-looking male. Son of a B!
I had some trouble with the scanner at the checkout; they said a few were a little quirky, but it eventually downloaded my order.
On the way out, I told the person at the scanner display that it would be very cool if the unit could beep on the aisles that contained the merchandise with the personalized discounts.
She said that they were probably working on it and I have no doubt that she was right.

Doing Things I Hate

I haven’t been having a whole lot of fun lately, and it’s making me cranky.
I start the day making a list of the obnoxious, horrible chores to be completed, like “Pay bills” and “Clean bathroom”.
For a change, it would be so wonderful to have a cheerful list of things to do.
Unfortunately, I am so out of practice that not a single example comes to mind.
Good grief.

Spock and Saavik, Braveheart and Boudica

A study by Yale post-doc Victoria Brescoll is being spun as a cautionary tale for certain women in politics.
According to Dr. Brescoll’s research, men are rewarded for being angry at work, while women are penalized.
This is a variation on the theme that women aren’t supposed to cry, either, particularly in a “professional” setting.
On the other hand, if a woman is self-controlled, she’s seen as a malevolent automaton, capable of who knows what, the lurid and unsubstantiated allegations about Vince Foster’s death being one example.
In the film “The Wrath of Khan”, the half Vulcan/half Romulan character Saavik captured the public’s imagination because of her stoicism, made palatable (even adorable) by her youthful, exotic looks.
This is in contrast to failed attempts to popularize warrior women like Boudica, who has been betrayed as fierce, angry and (the greatest sin of all) an effective leader.
It seems we’ll have to wait until Stardate 8130.4 for the kind of tolerance, humility and understanding reflected in Spock and Saavik’s famous dialog from “The Wrath of Khan”:
Saavik: Gishen worla ihk-banut
(Admiral Kirk is) not what I expect
Spock: Wakli ak’wikman – ot-lan?
What surprises you, lieuenant?
Saavik: Ish-veh ni komihn
He’s so human
Spock: Kling akhlami buhfik – Saavik-kam
Nobody’s perfect, Saavik

Interesting Term of Art

Definition, from the Venture Cyclist:
When a VC talks about a big hit you might hear them calling it a 10-bagger (a phrase apparently coined by Peter Lynch, of Fidelity Maggellan fame). A 10-bagger means that for every $1 of investment made, the VC fund receives $10 back when they sell their stake (either selling the company to someone else, or after an IPO).
Evidently, 10-baggers are “pretty rare” and 50-baggers are “mythical”.

Told You So

I’ve been crabbing at Microsoft that their recent obsession with UI isn’t of much interest to developers.
Here’s the result of an informal poll on the msdn site:
Of the following topics, which one packs the most punch for you?
LINQ 16%
Visual Studio 2008 51%
WCF 10%
Silverlight 20%
Windows Live Services 4%
The features in VS2008 outpolled everything else, but you’d never know that from Microsoft’s road shows.

Voting for Hillary

She’s long-winded. She’s for the Iraq war. She believes in adoption. She’s endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers.
Hillary Clinton is not my idea of a great Presidential candidate. But I may vote for her anyway because I want to see one of us get elected to the most powerful job on earth. And until the Republicans put a decent female candidate in place – which given their Taliban-like outlook on these things, will not happen during my lifetime – Senator Clinton is our best shot for a long time to come.

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