Year 2 – Week 4 – How to deal with Coercion in the Workplace

Good morning and Welcome!

Bullying  in schools is a big problem world-wide.  There are people devoting their lives to anti-bullying crusades.  Articles on bullying and what to do about it are on Facebook, radio and in our magazines.  Bullying seems to be an epidemic from my point of view.   The thing is bullying is not confined to schools.

Bullying is a word with nasty conotations but Wikipedia defines it like this:  “Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others.”

There are different categories of bullying such as school bullying, sexual bullying, cyber bullying and workplace bullying.

The reason I am bringing this up is that when you run your own business especially working as a service oriented Virtual Assistant, we have a huge tendency to fall over backwards for Clients (I do anyway).    What are reasonable and what are unreasonable work demands especially in terms of time?   When are you being coerced and when are you not?

In South Africa (where I live) the Virtual Assistant industry is new and in its infancy stages.  Our clients need to be taught how this business works and what the boundaries are.  We are NOT available to our clients from 6 in the morning to 11 pm at night including weekends but it is up to US to put those boundaries in place.

The old saying of “if you give someone an arm and they will take your leg” is true.  I have been caught out at my own game – this blog post is aimed at big ol’ me sitting here behind my PC writing for you!  Here is a scenario.

A client asks you to format a report.  You are given 2 dates to make available.  These dates are then moved.  You are then given one day i.e. a Friday to format a report that is due on the Monday.  You then offer to work on the Saturday just in case you can’t finish on the Friday (but you were originally given 2 days to complete the report and now you have 1 day).  “So just maybe I won’t finish on Friday but I’ll score some brownie points by working on Saturday morning”.  Here comes the kicker and is the client’s response:  “Seeing as you are working on the weekend I’ll send you the report on Saturday morning”.  Ouch.  Entirely the V.A.’s fault for bringing up the topic of weekend to start off with.  Do you see what I am saying?

The above is not bullying as we understand bullying but is an example of coercion (not necessarily in this case to intimidate).  The answer is:  “I’ll work on Saturday but not on Sunday”.  Don’t allow yourself to be coerced!!  As soon as there is a threat involved as in:  “If you don’t do (whatever this is) then this will happen” then you are being bullied.

The lessons learned here are:

  1. Never give someone any ammunition to use in coercing you to do what you don’t want to do.
  2. Don’t put an idea in your Client’s head that you don’t want there.

Lesson learned.  Let’s move on.

Oh yes, I’ll be working next Saturday the WHOLE Saturday (basically I’ll be W.M.A.O.)

See you on line,

Katlyn Virtual Assistants
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