Master the minefield – dealing with bullies, bozos & buffoons | Jeanne Sullivan | TEDxBarnardCollege



why am I talking to you about nasty people in the business world I have spent many years in the business and technology sector I am so proud that I have been one of the few women venture capitalists and served that world played in that world enjoyed that world for more than 25 years that has been thrilling but when I thought about what did I want to speak to you about today it wasn't about funding your business it wasn't about scaling your company it was about dealing with bullies bozos and buffoons this is not something that you learn in school there is one thing I know you cannot be nasty you've got to be sassy and you have to learn to stand up to step up and to speak up now let me tell you about a few of the zany people that are in the business world did you ever see the movie The Devil Wears Prada Miranda that condescending look that look in her eyes nothing was ever right one time I worked on a project with my team for more than 80 hours in the week not a word that was really tough on us she sucked the oxygen right out of the room and you know what I loved it on the days that she was traveling that was a good day you know my very first boss was just like Miranda and she was the devil but she didn't even wear Prada have you ever worked with somebody who just appreciated nothing that you did it doesn't feel good believe me so then I changed to a different part of the organization and who is my officemate but miss rude lewd and crude no filter on her mouth ever one day we had a big corporate event and picture let me take you there picture a great big auditorium about 300 people I got an award how naive I was to think that she would say something supportive you know what she said she said why did you win that award these are real stories I have made none of this up and in subsequent events she would say things recurring themes like why are you going to that conference why were you promoted why are you leading that team nothing I said was ever the right thing in fact the things I did say they were just catnip and just never quite worked have you ever had somebody who hit your hot buttons all the time then there's this dude mr. passive-aggressive oh boy I never knew what was going to come next with this dude this was really rough on me now he wasn't lewd or crude and he wasn't a screamer but he would do things like this he had us all build this big presentation that he asked for we never got to present it in fact he did things like this he would roll his eyes and look at his watch if we spoke up in a meeting do you know how much that hurts that is really hard so I got my first big executive job and here was mr. passive-aggressive his actions always made me feel small and doubting myself then there's this guy didn't you happen to see whiplash how many of you have seen this next slide did you happen to see whiplash JK Simmons like incredible right how many of you saw this movie already it's currently playing it's so great bombastic screaming as if that would make the drummer play better come on you know and I had more than a couple of bosses who acted this way in fact I was on boards of a few CEOs who always acted this way and fellow board members acted this way this was really hard to deal with I got my dream job and there was a monster under the bed now let me tell you this is my most important message we will keep getting the lessons until we learn them we have to learn to master the minefield of these manipulative people or they will make us miserable this is really really hard and it's so important to learn these things and so I uh I certainly had to to learn the ropes you know you might think that you'll be happy once you're successful but that's not really how it works the research really shows that you will be you know much more successful if you are happy and practicing that happiness you're more creative but there are things you can do I see nodding heads you've been there with nasty bosses you can learn to step up I learn to step up with excellence every chance I could with coworkers I learned to speak up and with bombastic types like in whiplash don't expect any making of amends like in the movie or any kind of appreciation talk that only happens in Hollywood it is really important to understand that do you know there's actually a workplace bullying Institute and it actually has measured that more than 72 percent of the people in the workplace have either observed bullying or been part of that world and being bullied I'm telling you that so you don't feel alone I think that's really important to know so I would tell you that you know just just learning how to to act how to speak up how to manage these situations it's like a business problem you have to learn to manage it it would help if you had the velvet hammer this is being direct but respectful I learned to use that velvet hammer and you know what my fellow board members always me firing the CEO and guess what most of them are still my friends so it's important to do that but let me tell you a few stories last year I took some time off for the first time ever and I worked on my golf game and I had one of the best teaching pros I have ever had a woman of course and she told me this great story about grace under fire she was out playing with Kevin and Kevin was throwing his clubs and he was just so obnoxious in fact he was ruining the whole afternoon for everyone and Heather said to him Kevin what is going on with you and he said I want to hit the ball like you hit the ball Heather and she said Kevin you're 70 years old I'm 43 I've been playing golf all my life I'm a professional golfer you will never hit the ball like I hit the ball Kevin use what you got talk about grace under fire she wasn't gonna let that bozo give her a bad day that's what I love about the story then a couple years ago I was invited to an all-women's poker night you know I just was looking at my hand and I had one bad hand after another what I do I kept reaching down for $20 bills and you know what I noticed the other women they were having bad hands too but they were doing something else they were dropping out and I realized if you want to win you got to stay in guess what I was the big winner that night now don't think I have all the answers it was only a few weeks ago I went to Stanford for parents night to visit my niece Jackie my sister was there I happen to be in Silicon Valley so I joined them all for dinner and I was telling Jackie about today and this discussion and I was telling her about somebody who made me crazy for many years and she said well what'd you learn what were you take away and I just kind of mumbled something I didn't even give her a good answer and you know what she said I don't think that you conquered this oh my god I was really in the grip which is the power hold that people can have on you and I was quiet the rest of the night you know why I realized she was right so I thought about it in the days after that and I realized I had not spoken up all along the way you see these people can give you a long tail of misery and that is why I am passionate about this subject I think it's really important so it might have helped if I had something like this gizmo called the jerkle meter invented by two computer scientists at MIT it measures the tone of voice what's going on with the feelings what's happening what's being communicated don't you think this should be in the Apple watch but until we can buy this gizmo let me give you the three tools for success you don't have to be nasty but you do have to be sassy come up with the mantra for yourself the one I use is I am enough that keeps me grateful and keeps me from sharp elbows mentality and come on say it with me you have to learn to stand up to step up and to speak up you

37 thoughts on “Master the minefield – dealing with bullies, bozos & buffoons | Jeanne Sullivan | TEDxBarnardCollege”

  1. That's what happened to me. As soon as I uttered a word to speak up for myself, I was fired. And blamed for things I literally just didn't do. It's not right, because now I have to figure out how to get references, how to start all over again, because I was trying to break into a new field so I could support me and my one year old daughter. Now I will have to try all over again, and me and my little girl have to suffer the losses. Nothing ever gets done about it.

  2. Loud, exaggerated sniffing and women hiking up their pants, with a hip shake. Are these things code for something? The sniffing? How is that interpreted? The childish pulling up pants really high and shaking the hips…how is that to be understood? Some say it is just people choosing a random mannerism or phrase and repeating it to make a person feel uncomfortable and agitated. Sort of like an older child teasing the younger in grade school class. Am I close?

  3. U Find 'rotten bastards' in ALL walks of life,from Both sexes/ALL ages…. 🙁 – MORE human brain research is Needed….. 🙂

  4. On a personal level young people are the worst bullies with their superiority that I am better than you because I am younger than you.

  5. As the first college grad in my family, I felt pretty good. I landed a faculty job at a 2 year branch campus, finished my Dissertation from a prestigious program, and a few years later, we hired a guy. Normal guy — we thought. One by one, he has bullied and harrassed and retaliated and I am tired of being constantly on guard. He is my “boss” and cant finish his PhD. So its my fault. I am 59 and he just demoted me. He has single handedly ruined my career and my life. Many others (women only) have been in the same boat and I am the last one left. I hate him.

  6. How many times have I worked with senior managers that appreciated nothing that I did?? Too many, and never again will I give them that opportunity to bully…plenty of nicer places to work, vote with your feet folks, it's the only democracratic power you have in the work environment. Strangely, the women were the biggest bullies.

  7. Bless you Ms. Sullivan. I'm baby-faced and are constantly targeted by corporate bullies who publicly humiliate me in public and speak to me condescendingly. When I speak up I've been told to grow "thicker skin". That to me is offensive in itself because it diminishes the act of harassment, and redirects the blame to me as I'm depicted as too sensitive because of demanding respect.

  8. The new bully?
    They try to trick other races
    into attacking yours.
    Then if you point that out,
    they call you "antiSemite"

  9. American workers are the most bullied in the Western world. Probably because of the weakness of socialism.

  10. In Singapore bullying and Psychopath is at NTUC supermarket. They have a facebook where customers who are not happy with staff upload their photos…… These customers are cowards and encouraged by organisation. They should be charged with slandering. And the staff be compensated. 💰💰🐕.

  11. One must be prepared for bullies' tricks at all times, and never let down one's guard – an impossible task. Once their persistence has paid off, the relationship has been changed forever.
    Am I being too cynical?

  12. Did it! It didn't work. Only thing that worked was going over their heads immediately, effecting their reputation before they sullied yours. Then they knew that you would "get them in trouble" the one thing they feared the most.

    Exit if possible, because it won't get any better. How many times did she bust at a table? Probably more times then she was the big winner. Let the higher up know this is why you won't be returning.

  13. This is comical! Great job Jean Sullivan. You hit it right on the spot with these Bozos. I'd like to see how you countered these Bozos and give women some advise on how to disable these idiots. Sometimes you need to do this, its a naturals personal mechanism kicking in.

  14. I like how you make it clear NOT to be needy for praise or needing to be liked or friends n breaking into old friendships. When you start a new job its dog-eat-dog sometimes.

  15. Unless the number of standing and stepping up include very many of them, you never win. You know the bully has a support in the higher administration, and very often you don't win. The day I Spoke up, Stepped up, I got fired.

  16. Once you've gotten into the cross-hairs of a monster you can never escape.  My manager is like a heat seeking missile.  Short of quitting, I will NEVER, EVER, EVER get her off my back.

  17. So what's the difference between working in IT and dealing with bullies, bozos and buffoons? I don't know either.

  18. Ha! My favorite saying as of late is "people who need people, haven't had enough of them yet! Yeah, I stole that from Babs and gave it a twist! Why is there never a drought of pains in the arses?

  19. Unfortunately in this real world, when a minority woman tried to stand up and speak up toward bullies. They usually got fired.

  20. How can I deal with community harassment..Ive always preferred to deal with a problem …so it can be resolved.. instead of letting it build up and matters are worse..but Since 2013..people in comminity began acting strabge..being really noisy.. rudely talking mess about me..( at first I had no idea they were talking about me.. they kept repeating themselves..tslking at same time.. whenecee id walk outside.. somekne would shout out.. . after awhile.. it disturbed me..that they carried on ..acting like a broken record / clown.. then zi realized ..they were calling me degrading names and my privaxy was invaded.. and texhnology has beenbused on my mind and body.. family dont believe me etc.. I refer to it as community harassment/ stalking.. I found out that this is occurring throughout the woeld.. its been a nightmare of a life..Its similar to "workplace bullying"..I dont know what lies have been told .but from one day to the next..adter moving to a new town.. people at the stores who were friemdly.. began to give me looks of disgust and anger..I didnt understand..because i havent done anything wrong to anyone orplace or thing.. and everywhere in neighborhood ..people at the shopping center, too have been rude in on way or another.. has been ever since..Ike wish there eas a warning .. that mightve prevented this from occurring..because after all of the b.s. and repettitiveness.. all they have to do is say a certain word or phrase or sound.. and i ende up reacting in a negative way.. when im strong enough to ignore it.mthen i end up feeling a frequency going through my body.. espwcislly while in my room.. anything ive mentioned.. took awhile for it to unfold..for me to realize that it was actually happening.. it wasnt in my head. ( this ia a tiny fraction of the abuse that is influcted upon me.. :-(.. How can a poo erson deal with it?? ( i might not have worded my long message properly..)

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