I’m referring to the choice that we all have to make when faced with obvious signs of disrespect in the workplace. This is especially so if the behaviour is not directed specifically at us.

Often times in our workplaces we choose to adopt the old maxim “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” when we witness or experience disrespectful behaviour, and decide to do nothing about it. After all, it’s so easy. The decision is just to do nothing at all.

Metaphorically, we choose to place our head in the sand.

Back in the Bad Old Days

Although these days, in 2013, I’m a strong advocate for doing the exact opposite, back when I was growing up and ‘maturing,’ I chose the ostrich approach to dealing with disrespect and bullying. I chose to do nothing, when I was confronted by the first bully that I ever met in my life. His name was David, and I met him the very first day I went to my new high school in Littlehampton in the county of Sussex, England.

This was not something that happened yesterday. I was eleven. But the point for me is that I responded by putting my head in the sand and pretended that it wasn’t happening. I didn’t say anything to anyone about it. Not my friends. Not my parents. No one.  I just put up with it thinking that it was my destiny to be David’s victim until I left school.

In fact, the reason that I became a police officer in the first place has everything to do with me, Phil Eastwood, wanting to escape the clutches of David without having to confront him, or tell anyone else about what I experiencing.

Put that into today’s reality of workplace nightmares that employees find themselves in. Being victimized by others within the workplace that either have assumed a power over them, or actually have a position of power over them.

We tell ourselves that the easiest thing in the world is to do nothing. To quit. After all, they are not going to change. They have been like this for ages.

This is the taped message that we have playing in our heads all day long. It consumes us and can drain us completely. But that is no way to live, and it takes courage and a positive mind to reverse the tape and to tackle the source of your problem. You need to tackle your David.

When I look back on my life in high school with the teacher report cards talking about how “Phil needs to concentrate more in class” and how “Phil is capable of so much more” I realise that I need to take responsibility for my response to David then.

That may be why I am so passionate about the topic of being respectful.

In British Columbia, Canada, new Occupational and Health Regulations were enacted on November 1st 2013, providing a road map to tackling the workplace bully’s, named David that exist in all of our lives, in some form or another, and give us the step by step help we need to remove our heads from the sand.

Just my thoughts.

*Editors’s Note: This is an excerpt from Handcuffs to Handshakes: Lessons from more than 30 years of handling humans