Creating Healthier, More Civil Workplaces for Everyone

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

Creating Healthier, More Civil Workplaces for Everyone

Hosts: Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

Guest: Catherine Mattice, Founder & CEO, Civility Partners

This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. Nearly one-third of U.S. employees say their work schedule still remains unpredictable as a result of the pandemic, a factor they report as having a significant effect on their overall well-being – from causing financial stress, to feeling disconnected from family friends. And, this appears to be affecting younger generations the most.To learn more about these findings, and how you can optimize work scheduling to help better support your employees, visit today.

This week, we met with Catherine Mattice to discuss workplace bullying and how to stand up and speak out against it.

– Workplace bullying and how employee performance is affected

– Training leadership on how to address bullying

– How to begin the bullying conversation with HR

– Empowering employees to change work culture


Learn more here

Thank you, Catherine, for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour wherever you get your podcasts.

Transcript follows:

Announcer 0:27
Welcome to At Work in America sponsored by Paychex. We welcome a wide and exceptionally impressive array of guests, business leaders, HR leaders, academics, practitioners, consultants and authors to talk about the most timely, relevant and challenging issues that are influencing the workplace today. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane Steed.

Steve 1:00
Welcome to the show. We have a great show today. Trish, how are you today?

Trish 1:03
I’m good. How are you, Steve?

Steve 1:05
I am well, I’m super excited for today’s show. It’s a topic we’ve not covered in quite some time, all around civility in the workplace and bullying in the workplace. We have a great guest who’s going to join us Catherine Mattice. She is the founder of Civility Partners and is a strategic HR consultant who assists organizations in building positive cultures through HR practices. She’s a widely recognized thought leader and she’s passionate about employers responsibility to create the opportunity and environment for employees to thrive. She’s appeared in or on NPR, CNN, USA Today and more as an expert, and has published articles in a wide variety venues and was a regular contributor at Catherine’s award winning first book, Back Off; Your Kick Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work. It’s a great title, was held by international leadership guru Ken Blanchard as, quote The most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic. Catherine, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Catherine Mattice 2:07
Thanks for having me. I’m doing well. Thank you.

Trish 2:11
I love a book title like that just as such a grip. But it’s true, right? Like you need a book like that for this topic. Right? If you’re dealing.

Catherine Mattice 2:18
You know, I put a call out to all my friends, what should I name this book and one of my friends that was her idea. And I thought that’s great. I’m doing it.

Steve 2:26
It gets the attention, right that bookshelves crowded. There’s a lot of like businessy books out there. And you want to make sure your stands out. So that’s absolutely awesome. Well, that’s great, Catherine, it’s good. So good to have you. I guess the first thing we’ll start with is just what made what led you to get started in this what made you decide, hey, civility in the workplace, bullying in the workplace is something I want to sort of not just talk about, I want to address I want to make it like the focus of what I’m doing. I want to write about it, I want to create an organization dedicated to helping organizations kind of stamp this out.

Catherine Mattice 2:59
The stars aligned. For me, it was a series of things. So first, I was the director of HR for an organization. And there was one other person there who was toxic. So it wasn’t a whole toxic culture. In fact, the leader was great. We had a great culture. But there was one director, who was my peer, who was an ass, he was hard to work with. And I dealt with all of the HR problems he created, his department had a lot of turnover, I was counseling people who are coming to HR for help, talking to the president a lot about solving it. And as good as that leader was he just would not address that person’s behavior. So I experienced it as HR. But then I also felt bullied, he really picked on me I was one of his targets. While I was working there, I decided to get my master’s degree at San Diego State. And we have professor here in San Diego, Dr. Bryan Spitsbergen, who studies what he calls the dark side of communication.

Catherine Mattice 4:00
So you learn about communication tactics and domestic violence, for example, or sibling rivalry. And of course, I had to write a paper on something dark, and I thought, Well, I’m gonna write a paper on this thing at work, because I’m, you know, trying to understand it. And it was pretty therapeutic to do that. Fast forward, I actually got myself fired from that job because my performance was suffering, which is often what happens when you feel bullied. I got a job doing HR for a startup marketing firm, and then got laid off the beginning of the recession. And I throw that piece in there because I got laid off and I started my business that day, because I thought, You know what, this is a big problem I was learning about there’s so much research about the problem, how extensive it is. And now I have a little bit of insight on marketing. So I’m not starting from ground zero there. I’m just gonna go for it. And so here I am, all these years later.

Trish 4:54
Well, I hate that you had to go through that to get to your business, but obviously this is some thing that I’m sure anyone who’s listening is they’re hearing your story. They’re probably picturing one or two or three employers they’ve had where you know, that person at least right, we’ve all had that person, unfortunately. So it’s very common. I was making some notes just as you were talking. And I’m thinking like, as you’re, as you’re speaking, it’s like the being the victim of a bully, and then losing your job because your performance suffers. It’s like you’re further victimized as the victim. Can you maybe talk just a little bit about that? Like, I mean, obviously, this is I said, it’s common, but do you find that a lot of other people are sort of ongoing victims and sort of many layers to that, like, how does that actually look in the workplace?

Catherine Mattice 5:44
Yes, so I’ll give a whole whole lot of different perspectives there. So unfortunately, what happens is you have somebody who bullies, they’re usually super high performers, they’ve clawed their way to the top. And so they’re seen as, you know, very valuable. Often the narrative when I saw I coach toxic leaders these days, often the narrative is that HR has been trying to convince the C suite to address the behavior for quite a while, and the C suite isn’t willing to because they’re afraid to poke the bear that, you know, they’ll, the person will say, Fine, I’ll go bully somewhere else I’m out here, which is totally unrealistic when you think about it. But so then, these targets, you know, they just come to learn that they have to go through this if they want to work there. So it’s a little like harassment in that sense, right? You feel like it’s a condition of employment. And that’s I was finding when I was doing my research back in grad school, and to this day, that it’s very common for leaders to ignore it, or brush it under the rug, because that person is so valuable. So that’s one piece of it. And then bullying is very confusing. So your target when you’re a target of bully, you don’t even know you’re a victim until you sort of have an epiphany, because we don’t expect that behavior at work from adults. And so there’s an element of bullying creeping up on you over time. And then your performance starts to suffer, the more you ask HR for help, and the less you get it, the more your performance is suffering. So yeah, it becomes this cycle of victimization, and then you feel victimized at home a little bit, or at least lonely and confused at home. Because unless your spouse or your friends have experienced with a toxic leader like that, they don’t know what you’re talking about. And there’s actually researched that it can hurt your marriage, because you’re talking about you kind of become obsessed with it. Why is this happening to me? Why won’t my employer help me? I’m trapped in some sort of alternate reality. And then yeah, the performance suffers. And eventually, because organizations are focused on KPIs and goals and objectives, that performance is what becomes the focus versus the behavior of the bully.

Steve 8:00
Catherine, what would you say in the organizations that you’ve been around or worked with? That the primary reason it continues this kind of incivility or this toxic behavior continues? Is that lack of leadership willingness to address it? Is that the main driver?

Catherine Mattice 8:16
Yes, that is a big driver. And I like to joke when I’m giving HR speeches, that the technical term for that in the research is weak leadership.

Trish 8:27
Catherine, it’s a little bit of that, but it’s also as you alluded to earlier, it’s that ability that that person is often the Rainmaker, at least in my experience in many different types of industries, right? That is the person that is a high performer, it is a person that’s bringing in maybe a lot of business. And so no one really wants to have that stop, right? It’s a little bit of being greedy, I think. And it’s been very difficult over the years working in HR trying to get rid of those people who remember, I worked in health care, and there was a nurse who was, she wasn’t even that good anymore, honestly. But she had been doing this for 25 years, she was literally the biggest bully in the entire hospital. And no one would deal with it over over many different you know, C suites. Right, but they had changed. But like, do you see that often, though, is that I mean, I hate to feel like that’s something that happens everywhere. But it’s like, who’s going to finally be the person that’s brave enough to try and take this on? Especially in your case, if you’re an HR and you’re feeling like a victim? Like how do we how do we even start addressing this is human resources?

Catherine Mattice 9:33
Yeah, you know, what’s fascinating is everybody’s in fear in these scenarios. So the person who engages in bullying does it out of fear of looking incompetent, and they’re overcompensating by lashing out with bullying and then they’ve been rewarded for it. They’ve climbed up the ladder. They’re a rainmaker they can see the C suite is going to allow them to be that way. So they’re but they’re really running around in fear of being seen as incompetent and then you have C suite who are also very competent people who are afraid, because we’re afraid it’s it’s part of it’s instinctual, we’re afraid of aggression, it’s not in our nature to run towards it. And so I do a lot of my sales process when I’m doing coaching, you know, trying to sell C suite on coaching is that, you know, you’re afraid and you are setting up a bad example. And then, you know, tying that to HR, people aren’t going to complain about something like sexual harassment, if they can see that behaviors, bad behaviors allowed, right?

Catherine Mattice 10:38
So there’s, in addition to just the risk of being accused of harassment, this person is sending a message or by not addressing it, you’re sending the message that this bad behavior is okay, we don’t pay attention to behavior, we only focus on performance. So for HR, that’s one way to get leadership on board is to talk about those types of things with them and really make that case. Also, if you have a salesperson who brings in a million dollars, but you can calculate how much they’ve cost the organization, you might be able to prove that this person isn’t quite the Rainmaker, you thought if they’re bringing in a million dollars in sales every year, but they’re costing $300,000 in the turnover, the time spent dealing with it, the absenteeism, the presenteeism, all of that, you know, the cost of the risk, then they’re not really bringing in a million dollars, they’re bringing in a million dollars, subtract, and then you got to subtract all of that costs. So that’s another way to go about convincing leaders. What I do find, unfortunately, is that usually the C suite has been slapped in the face, and that’s why they’re finally reaching out for coaching. So I hate that it gets that far.

Steve 11:50
Yeah, like the behavior that toxic behavior elevates to the point where maybe someone’s suing about it. Is that what you’re getting at Catherine?

Catherine Mattice 11:57
Oh, yeah. Yeah, or some other valuable person quit and said it was because of them or harassment complaint? Sometimes it’s the seventh harassment complaint for the leaders finally say, Okay. Really the you know, and that’s where we get to civility. That’s the ultimate anecdote, right is if the organization is focused on positive, respectful behavior, then the bullying won’t occur, it will snap, smash it out or stamp it out.

Trish 12:28
Yeah, it’s, I feel like you’re, I mean, I’ve been in HR a long time, and I’ve just not thought of it this way. So thank you for just kind of like giving us a different lens to look at this through. I’ve never thought about kind of figuring out what is the cost of the bully, right? That feels like that gives me some power back to be able to go to the CEO, the CFO, whoever my the combination is, and make that case, because you’re right. Sometimes we just feel like we our hands are tied, or or maybe that were the problem. Like, am I the only one seeing this? Am I the only one who wants to do something about this? No one else really feels compelled to take this on? Do you see that? When people start approaching that say they work with you? And you’re teaching them about really focusing on the positives of civility? Are they actually feeling empowered them to maybe take on some of these workplace bullies? What does that look like when they’re working with you?

Catherine Mattice 13:29
One of our big services is culture change. So a lot of our because of my background in workplace bullying and toxic behavior, often our culture change clients have a problem like that. And so we I kind of joke, we make companies normal, and then there’s some other consultant out there who will get them on the fortune 500 list, you know. So yeah, it’s it’s about me we do a workforce survey, figure out why people are being uncivil. What are they frustrated by? Where are the problems and then helping the organization address those things? So for example, we’re working with a Housing Authority right now. And one of glaring problem in their environment was people feeling like they were stuck. They had no idea what was ahead of them where they could go in the organization. They weren’t getting feedback about their performance. So we did I say simple because I’m an HR simple performance per system, you know, we created for them and they’ve put it into their intra intranet so that they can do it all electronically. And that solved a world of problems. And then now we’re working on a succession plan because you know, it’s government they have some longtime employees who are going to be leaving.

Catherine Mattice 14:45
So where are they going to pull new hires from and so then they can start to advertise that, hey, we’re going to try to promote from within everybody gets to move up a level. So you know that it? It was toxic because people were frustrated about the lack of communication and what was going to happen to them. And we were able to solve that with, you know, some of these simple HR. I say simple again, because, you know, they’re simple to us, it just took me five minutes. But yeah, so you know, that’s the kind of work that we do. And then through all of that people start to calm down, the anxiety goes down. And then we can talk about things like civility. So we’ve also in that organization, done some training for managers and leaders on not only how to deliver performance conversations in a respectful civil way, because we want to make sure they’re not bullying in there those conversations. But you know, it’s about collaboration, collaborating with your team on where they want to go, what they want to learn. And so all of these, you know, very top of mine HR topics that are out there these days, these are the kinds of things and I do think the paradigm shifting, we’re getting more focused on people and what they need. And the more we shift that way, the less likely these toxic behaviors will occur.

Trish 16:01
Yeah, Steve, I know you’ve worked in a lot of workplaces as well, like I’ll be honest, in my about 25 years working, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it called civility in the workplace, have you? I mean, you’ve worked in some really big places. Have you ever heard it sort of addressed in that way? Or is this new to you as well?

Steve 16:20
I haven’t, but I understand it. Like it makes sense to me. Because I guess this kind of makes me think about a question I wanted to ask you, Catherine, which is, whether we’re calling it bullying or toxicity or non-civil, uncivil and a lack of civility, that can represent a wide range of behaviors, right, from very obvious things like, you know, looking down the road workers and calling someone a name or something like that two, things like lack of communication around performance management, or, or maybe like, my boss sends me an email at 11 o’clock on Saturday night and expects me to respond to it within five minutes, right? Or else I’m in trouble, right on Monday morning, which is a form of toxicity as well. So with that said, Is there? I don’t know, is there something you see that’s more common than others? Is it something that’s more harmful than others? Like, I guess it’s such a big problem, it’s, it feels to me very challenging for you as an advisor and an expert in this as well as the organizations to address because I feel like it could be such a wide range of toxic behaviors out there.

Catherine Mattice 17:29
Yes, and it’s, you can solve it, you know, do my part by department or team by team. So, for example, I was really struck when I was reading all of that research back in graduate school, there’s all these models of how bullying unfolds. And they all start with the initial incident, the eye rolling, but nasty email, something kind of simple that we often overlook. And that’s how bullying starts. And then because nobody speaks up about it, it gets it continues, they get more and more permission over time to engage in that behavior. And eventually, it becomes normal for them to engage in toxic behavior, because it’s working. And you know, it’s just like, if you watch 100 scary movies over the weekend, your your tolerance for scary movies goes way down. And so same for this behavior. So yeah, so we talk a lot about like, I’m in California, where we do the harassment prevention training. You know, I’m probably one of the only trainers who’s talking about things like gossip, and micro aggressions in my harassment prevention training. And that’s a problem that HR, you know, we got sucked into the, the legal stuff. I mean, who designed the learning objectives for harassment prevention, training lawmakers? What the heck do they know about? You know, so the training is all about your mandatory responsibilities and what your policy has to say, and the technical definitions and stuff. And sure, we should have that, I guess, but it’s not really that useful.

Catherine Mattice 19:06
So we always talk about bad behavior and a spectrum, just as you’re saying, and then and then we talk about, look, if you can stand up when you hear gossip, for example. And all you have to say is, you know, I don’t want to participate in the gossip. That’s a huge step towards creating a positive work environment that won’t tolerate bullying. The other mistake that a lot of companies make is we do something like a harassment prevention training. But then we’re not training managers on how to proactively create a positive work environment. And so that’s a lot of our training, too, is like, what could you do with your team on a regular basis to keep positivity and respect on top of mind, you know, could you talk about core values in your staff meetings and a lot of organizations do the big things, you know, let’s do rewards or nominations around core values. But that’s a big ticket thing. It’s it You know, culture happens in the nuanced day to day conversations, I understand my organization’s culture through the interactions I have, right and my team, not the big core value posters on the wall. And so it doesn’t feel hard to turn the culture around when you think about it that way that if everyone could just change those nuanced one on one interactions that would make a big difference.

Steve 20:24
Let’s take a break from the conversation to thank our sponsors, Trish. This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by our friends at Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes, nearly 1/3 of us employees say their work schedule remains unpredictable as a result of the pandemic, a factor they report is having a significant effect on their overall well being from causing financial stress to feeling disconnected from family and friends. And this appears to be affecting younger generations the most. To learn more about how you can optimize work scheduling, to help better support your employees, please visit Today, and thank you to our friends at Paychex.

Trish 21:06
Absolutely. You know, I want to talk to you a little bit about maybe taking this down to a more granular level. Because what we’re talking about so far, we kind of started with the bully, but we’ve kind of now been talking about what you can do more from a cultural standpoint to change everyone. I’d love to hear your perspective on what actually happens with the bully. And I’m thinking of think of a CEO, for example, that I had at one point. And I was always the type of HR person I was thinking like, I want to be able to change that person, right? I’m going to be the one that breaks through, I’m going to be the one that’s going to be so nice, I’m going to make that relationship work and help them understand. And I had another really good friend of mine who was a very high level executive and HR somewhere else. And he said, You’re not going to crack that nut. And his point was, he said, If you walked into your office every day, because I was an executive level person at the time, he said, If you walked in and you were cussing for the first five minutes as you worked your office every day, would anyone stop you or say anything? And I said, No, I don’t guess they would he goes right, that would become normalized behavior. No one is going to come crack that nut with you. What makes you think you can change him? I would love to hear your perspective on something like that are bullies salvageable? Can you crack that nut? if you will?

Catherine Mattice 22:31
I do it for a living, like crack nuts for? Here’s the process. And well, I’ll start by saying your CEO or any CEO, you know, I can’t help them unless they want to change. I have coached a CEO of a credit union chain, who was ordered to go through coaching by their chair of the board. So they had a boss who was saying you can’t do this anymore. And that is a required component. So here’s the deal, HR finally has permission to address this behavior, because C suites finally been slapped in the face, right? And the process is that I meet the individual, I just basically say, Look, I don’t you know, know anything about how what we need to coach on. I’m sure you have some ideas, but I’m really here to focus on perceptions of you. I bet you don’t really know much about those perceptions other than things you might have heard from HR, your leader, so why don’t we figure it out? And then we’ll know exactly what we need to change. Why don’t you let me interview some people. So they introduced me to eight people that I interview. And then I also use what’s called confidential add on. So I have HR provide some additional names. So the person I’m coaching doesn’t know all of the names, which helps with confidentiality when I’m giving the feedback. And then I interview all these people and then move it all into themes. And so what I bring to the table is a feedback document that’s often around 20 pages. And it’s all broken into themes, and I read it to them. And so that’s a rough conversation, but it needs to be had you know, in my my coach who taught me how to do this method of coaching. You know, she she says like a doctor can’t help a cancer patient unless they know the whole deal cancer doctors not going to say, Oh, you have five years to live if you only have three months, you know, they have to be brutally honest. And this person can’t change until they know the deal.

Catherine Mattice 24:35
And then from there, they get to decide if they still want to be perceived that way or not. So that meeting is a real telltale sign you know that obviously everyone’s defensive in that meeting. That’s normal, but the ones who are horrified by it are the ones I can change and they often just had no idea had gotten so bad. And they’re like, holy moly, I I wouldn’t want to work with me. They’re helped me versus others, they remain defensive and aren’t interested in seeing that feedback is real, and I can’t help them. And then I’ll just tell them, I’m not going to coach you, then. So you’re on your own. So there’s that. And then I’ll back up by saying, I don’t take on a coaching client, unless there’s a some sort of consequence in place. It does not have to be termination it often is. But, for example, I coached a doctor who was going to be removed from this hospital administration committee that she was on it was kind of a high profile place for her to be they were going to kick her off if she didn’t make change. So it’s, you know, it’s presented in such a way of like, I’m drawing a line, you can’t act this way anymore. I have to put a consequence in place because you’ve been acting this way for five years, I need you to know how serious it is, right? But I found you a coach, and I, I want you to change I want you here, this is a gift to help you change. So that’s so yes, they can under the right circumstances change.

Steve 26:03
Well, I actually jot down the kind of the same question I had kind of laid out a little differently, like jerks most likely continue to be jerks. That’s just the nature of being a jerk. So like, you know, for the blog, I won’t ask that again, since you just suggested Katherine, but I’ll maybe talk about one. One other question I did have, which was, what is some advice you give organizations or even individuals who are not the jerk, say, or not the person being subjected to the bullying or the Texas to be directly, but everybody else who’s maybe just either generally aware of this behavior, or witnesses that maybe even from time to time, it’s very specific behaviors? You know, kind of what do we want to have our organizations tell people or advise people in that circumstance, right, because I feel like a lot of us our natural inclination, and you sort of alluded to this earlier, Catherine, as we kind of look away, maybe we don’t want to confront that kind of toxicity. It’s not really directly impacting us. So and that’s a problem, I guess. Right? With not enough folks are getting themselves involved.

Catherine Mattice 27:05
Yeah. So organizations, some advice there is to do some training around how to speak up. Because, you know, we heard it with Black Lives Matter. And me too, you know, speak up see something, say something for once we were using the government’s marketing organizations. And but then that forgets the fact that it’s not in our nature to speak up when we see things. So it for we’ve been doing a lot of bystander intervention training, so that if I did see some bullying behavior, or the lower level stuff, gossip or microaggression, what could I say, to influence that in a positive way? So I do recommend all organizations give that training, and then that sends the message that we want you to do that? And we would support you if you did, because here, we’ve given you some training on it, because that that’s part of it, too, you know, people don’t know, if I did step in what would happen to me with the organization support me? Or would I be seen as a, you know, throwing a wrench in and would they start to target me to get rid of me. So the organization has to really say we do support this, and then their actions have to show that. And then for any manager or leader out there, this as soon as you see something small address it, it’s so much easier to address someone who is inappropriately sarcastic than it is to do the bullying. So address it early on, and have those regular conversations about what you expect from each other, how you all want to be treated, what does respect look like in our team. And then you know, as it just for individuals, if you’re in a scenario where you feel bullied. My advice to you is to address it with that person, have a conversation to say, look, I feel like our relationships, you know, not working, I want to talk to you about it, you know, come at it with a collaborative point of view of like, can we work through this? And then if that doesn’t work, then you should go to HR and let them know, Hey, I’ve tried to solve it, it didn’t work. So that’s why I’m here in your office. Now I’m seeking help. But the key is we just all have to push back on it, we have to decide that we’re not going to tolerate that behavior anymore.

Trish 29:22
I would say to Catherine, I think when you’re pushing back, it’s can be very scary if it’s you trying to do this yourself. And whether it’s my kids or myself, I’ve always tried to use the approach. We’re kind of I think as humans we want, we want to be good with someone, right? You want to be all the way good with them. And sometimes with a bully you’re not able to be and so if you can just get to neutral. So I’ve even had that conversation. I remember early in my career with someone who was quite a bit older, and I just told her I said, look, we’ve got to work together. You don’t like me and I really don’t like you. Can we just get to neutral? Can we like fake it seriously, I’m willing to fake it. If you aren’t like less But let’s stop. And she was so shocked. And we actually, so probably like two years. I mean, we faked it full on in meetings. Like, we weren’t like over the top, but like, neutral. And then we finally actually over a long period of time, kind of liked each other a little bit. So I just wonder if like, you know, don’t try to get it all the way. Good. Write a great piece of advice. Yeah, yes, just get to neutral just get to where I don’t have to feel anxiety about coming into work and having to run into you in the hallway or the kitchen. Right? If I have to stand up and give a presentation with you or something, let’s just smile and like, you know, so.

Catherine Mattice 30:41
Yeah, I like that advice.

Steve 30:43
You know, it’s funny to like, even though I feel like you decide like, the beginning. Have you experienced this in the in places you’ve worked? I would say I probably I’ve never felt like I was really bullied ever in any place. I worked? I don’t think so. But then if I think about it, I know I probably was right. And I’ll tell I know, we want to wrap here. It’s like well, I’ll tell a real quick story because it’s funny. So I was on this huge project, huge software implantation project, right. Like years ago, 50 people on the project, very pressured deadlines, lots of money involved, lots of very expensive consultants, etc. We’d have these big status meetings once per week. And they were very, very important because all the big shots, right where they’re all the exact. And so before the meeting, you talk with your little team that you were on, okay, you’re gonna say that I’m going to say this good. So right before the meeting me and this other guy was on my team, he’s, he says, Okay, you say this, he tells me say ABC in the meeting, and I’ll back you up. I’m like, Okay, so here’s the meeting, I get up there. I say, okay, ABC. That’s where we’re at. And he raises his hand and he says, No, that’s not that’s not right at all. We didn’t do that. I disagree. He, and literally five minutes prior conversation, oh, my gosh, there’s me right under the bus. I was like I would have had I not calm down just enough. I was ready just to destroy him. But then I think that was awful behavior. Right? Awful.

Trish 32:03
I think though to Steve, part of it is probably not every bully, but most bullies, they learn that from somewhere, someone is doing that to them somewhere in their life, whether they’re a little kid doing it and learning it being bullied at home, or if they’re a bully at work, they’ve learned that behavior, and maybe they’re still feeling that. And in HR, I’ve found over the years of confronting lots of bullies. For other people. That’s usually the case, they’re experiencing something really horrific somewhere else that doesn’t make it right. But when you kind of give them that grace and that understanding and say, Look, I know you’re probably hurting, you don’t want to make someone else hurt, too. Like, but in his case, I think he’s awful.

Catherine Mattice 32:46
That’s true. They’re not that’s part of why we’re afraid of them. Right? We think they enjoy it. And they we develop this narrative that they’re really evil and that if we were to speak up, they would, you know, shoot us with a laser or whatever, you know, we got on a path of like, they’re horrible person. But they actually and this this may help in for people who might feel bullied, people who bully are uber afraid of incompetence, they have been fighting to look competent their entire life. And they all have that story. That is a big pattern. I see. Their parents didn’t treat them very well. Or they had a coach in college that you know, treated them awfully like they’ve, their their self esteem has been harmed somewhere. And so I joke that they’re actually my delicate flowers. They’re like glass. So if you could do them as that and not be afraid of them.

Steve 33:37
I’m nodding my head because that guy was absolutely that. That was surely the explanation. Yeah, the other thing, too, like I remember that dumb story. That story was 25 years ago. That it was about it.

Trish 33:52
That’s it, though.

Steve 33:55
I know, let’s track him down.

Trish 33:56
But of all the people that have been nice to you in your career, it’s harder for us to remember those nice moments. We hang on to the ones where it did hurt us. Those are super impactful. It might be one little interaction that guy had with you in that meeting and it sticks with you because it hurts it’s we’re fragile, right?

Steve 34:18
Had I known now, I could have called Catherine up. I didn’t know that back then.

Trish 34:24
I think you should call this guy now. I think you should. On LinkedIn.

Steve 34:30
Thanks Catherine, this was super fun. We could go on and on about this for ages. We will we will put you through that. But just for folks who want to sort of learn more about what you and the team do. It’s really interesting. I was on the website this morning. And there’s a lot of there a lot of services, you offer a lot of information, maybe just give a little shout out and where folks can go to learn more about what you and the team do at Civility Partners.

Catherine Mattice 34:53
Yeah, so you can find me at Of course I’m on LinkedIn. I’ve got several LinkedIn learn In courses, there are two about how to turn around bullying and how to create a positive work environment. So you could go there. And our team, like I said, we do culture change work. That’s, you know, three to four years type of work. We do lots of training around civility and communication. And then of course, I coach toxic leaders.

Steve 35:22
I’m sure we’ve got the listeners of a few toxic leaders, we’re ready to send your way. I hope we can get them fixed. So Catherine Matisse from Civility Partners, thank you so much. Really great to meet you. And I love the conversation.

Catherine Mattice 35:35
Thank you. Me too.

Steve 35:37
Awesome. Great stuff. Trish, I loved it really good. I got to tell a couple stories as well. Thank you to Catherine, we’ll put links in the show notes to where you can find Civility Partners connect with Catherine and learn more about how you can sort of get the toxicity out of your organization and get those toxic leaders heading in the right direction. So all right, with that said, Trish, the archives, of course, We encourage folks to get everything there the podcast, video shows, workplace minute shows. It’s all there. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and thank you so much for listening. And we will see you next time.

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