I was reminded of something today, that taking care of yourself with a chronic illness means reducing your stress, and sometimes you have to temporarily elevate your stress now in order to reduce it in the future. The last few years I’ve been trying to get rid of or reduce contact with toxic people in my personal life. I’ve reduced contact or eliminated contact with people who made my stress levels rise and were helping to knock down my sense of self-worth and ultimately helping to keep me feeling at my worst. What I forgot was that I need to do this periodically at my work as well.
I do work as a retail merchandiser rep. Which means I have a route of retail stores, that I visit every week. I have different projects to do for the store depending on what is going on. Which means I go into a store, take care of that week’s projects and then go on to the next store. Usually I am only there for part of a day, or maybe a full day on a rare occasion. So when someone who works at the store stresses me out, I’ve been ignoring it, finishing up my work and then moving on. Most of the time that serves me fairly well, but one person at one store reminded me that apparently I let people think they could get away with a little too much with me.
Earlier today I go to work in one of my stores. The majority of people at this store are nice, easy to work with, and know that I’m there to help them get things done they don’t have manpower to get done themselves. There is of course one worker at the store who for some reason has been decidedly nasty to me in her attitude since I took over that store a few months ago. Most of the time I’ve been avoiding her, because her obviously negative and toxic nature is not what I want to be around. I usually deal with the manager or assistant managers to get what I need done. The few times I’ve had to work with her to accomplish a goal, her ultra critical tone, the condescension towards me and her fellow coworkers, her abrasive manner towards me, have gotten on my nerves, but most of the time it’s a few minutes then I can get away from her. Apparently she decided me ignoring her meant that it was ok to be abusive to me. I walked into the store today and got started on the first of my projects for the store.
Within minutes, she comes charging angrily at me up the aisle and starts accusing me of “lying” to her about something the week before. I’m really confused as what she is saying I told her is impossible, the term she’s saying I told her I am not even familiar with it. I’m trying to calm her down, but she just gets louder and louder, and meaner, accusing me of lying, and more. When I try to defend myself calmly she starts yelling that I’m calling her a liar and she won’t have it. She is using body language to try to crowd me, obviously trying to intimidate me as she’s larger than I am. I stay calm while she yells in the middle of the store and then walk away from her. I find her a minute later when she has gone into the back room of the store and is away from customers. I tell her “Listen here. Yelling at me is not professional or acceptable and you are NO LONGER going to speak to me this way. I am not your employee, I am not your whipping boy, I am a retail rep for this store and I do not have to take this sort of verbal abuse from you any longer. If you try this again, I will report it fully to your boss and your District manager. I’m sure they would love to know how you yelled at a rep in full view of their customers, and that you have been known to belittle, and treat other people poorly when the managers are not able to see you. “She stared at me open mouthed and started to say something, but I held up my hand and pretty much told her I said what I needed to say and was done. I don’t know if anyone has ever stood up to this bully of a person in her entire life, it certainly seemed to catch her off guard that I did.
When I left the store later after finishing my project (she wasn’t going to keep me from getting my part of things done!)I called and spoke to my supervisor. I reported what happened to her. Thank goodness for good bosses! My boss said that I absolutely did not need to be spoken to or yelled at, and that she herself was going to go down to that store in the next day or so to speak directly to that woman’s manager in person and let her know that would not be tolerated. If the manager didn’t act on it, my boss would go to the District manager. It really is gratifying to know that I was able to keep my cool, stand up for myself and my boss backed me up. I hope anyone reading this is lucky enough to work somewhere like that.
I have to say though speaking my piece was very stressful, as I am not normally a confrontational person, when it was over and I’d spoken to my supervisor, I felt better. A huge weight has been lifted from me. I took a chance and stood up for myself and I know that it’s ok for me to stand up for myself. I didn’t need to get mean or yell, just calmly let that person know they no longer had the right to treat me that way. After I was done, I was sitting in my car and at that point I was crying heavily. The stress of the confrontation needed a way to leave me and I allowed it to do so.
After speaking to my supervisor, it looks like she is going to switch that store to another one along my route so I don’t have to deal with that person ever again. I hope that my standing up to her makes her think twice the next time she tries to be verbally abusive to someone else. Just remember, we have to take charge of our health and sometimes we have to remember that it is ok to stand up, even if it’s temporarily very stressful, in order to free ourselves from on going stressful situations.
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