Community//

Since when did it become OK to troll at work?

The news over the weekend about Caroline Flack tragically taking her own life has been an eye opener for many to the brutal behaviour of the UK media, the vicious, judgemental behaviour of the public and how we have become almost immune to it. Trolls have become a household word. A photo or article is […]

The news over the weekend about Caroline Flack tragically taking her own life has been an eye opener for many to the brutal behaviour of the UK media, the vicious, judgemental behaviour of the public and how we have become almost immune to it.

Trolls have become a household word. A photo or article is posted and it’s only a matter of time before trolls appear on the comments. People now wait for the comments with a laugh or a snigger or just to be shocked by what people say – but now it’s no longer funny.

Only last week Phillip Schofield asked for kindness after announcing he was gay, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have quit the royal family with fears for their mental health following intense media scrutiny and trolling, and Justin Timberlake was pelted with bottles of urine at his recent concert with the Rolling Stones!

These are just people that chose a job – sure Prince Harry was born into this but effectively each one of them is just working.

Caroline Flack, was also famous because of her work. Just like so many of us, she had a job to do. Through good days and bad she kept her composure as best as she could and kept it professional – like so many of us do.

Her career skyrocketed in the last few years with Love Island winning a BAFTA and winning Strictly Come Dancing but she had been working hard for years to get there. 

Again, who can put their hands up to working the grind for years before you start to see results? Giving it our all and making some mistakes along the way – both professional and personal.

We have all been in work situations where we have had an off-day or off-month. Exhausted, burnt out, a break-up, a death in the family, a redundancy, not getting the promotion, rude colleagues etc. and at the same time we have all made mistakes in the workplace. Sending the wrong email, getting the figures wrong, double booking a meeting, messing up a pitch in front of a client….the list is endless.

What I am trying to say is that no one is perfect and we all mess up. The saying goes that “those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” but I find in the workplace we forget that.

How many times do we bitch and moan about a colleague for messing up? How many times do we not say hello to our colleagues because we are having a bad day? And sadly how many of us are rude, obnoxious or even nasty to a colleague because we don’t like them or because we don’t think they are good at their job?

Be honest with yourself – cause this is trolling! I work with a lot of people in the 9-to-5 and it always breaks my heart when I hear of bullying or toxic workplaces. Snide comments – jokes at their expense and deliberately making it hard for them to find out information or do well. Why? Because we don’t want them to be better than us? We don’t want to put our own jobs at risk? Or maybe because we have just become a little clicky with our colleagues and fall into the pack/school-ground mentality.

This is no different to what Caroline has endured albeit on a smaller scale. I have seen people leave jobs with no job to go to but purely because they can’t go on in that job, I have seen friends go to therapy because they can’t handle the toxic and brutal behaviour in their workplace but also can’t see anyway out.

I know people I have worked with that have taken their own lives because the work just got too much. During the financial crisis every week someone in the City of London was taking their own life – it became so bad a well-known restaurant had to build a guard rail and hedge to stop people from doing it.

We need to start realising that our words have consequences. We are all people. We all make mistakes – it is how we learn and yes – you may not like the person you sit next to, the person you report to or the people in a department in your company but does that really matter? You don’t need to be friends with everyone but surely you can be kind. We need to stop judging – we need to stop trolling – we need to start being decent human beings again.

I watch people who are kind at work – they get a lot done, they enjoy their job more because people want to talk to them, they get results because people want to help them, and they are more likely to get that promotion because people want to work with them.

Why can’t we all be a little more like that?

I don’t think I know any trolls but I certainly know people who are victims of trolling. 

To the victims – I say, Kill Those Trolls With Kindness and know that you are not alone. We are all here for you. Speak up if you can and if not call the Samaritans on 116 123. I have called them before when I needed support and they are amazing.

To those who see a colleague in need – speak up. Ask how they are and be there. We need more kindness in this world.

To the trolls – please stop. The world does not need any more hate. Work is hard enough as it is – so let’s all try to get along.

The sad thing about suicide is that it is so final. You can’t come back. The outpouring of grief and messages over the weekend saddens me more than anything because I wish people could see what they leave behind. We sadly only tell the wonderful stories about people after they leave us – I wish we could say more of it to their faces.

When I talk about happiness in work it needs to be on the agenda for employers and employees and everyone needs to give 100% to achieve the outcome. This is a huge issue in workplaces and needs to be addressed but not just by the employer but also by each and every employee making a conscious effort.

It’s not Us Vs. Them but a We. We need to Make Work Great Again.

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