Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What to do When the Boss is a Bully

A Harvard University study shows that 15% of the reason a person gets a job, keeps a job, or advances in a job is related to technical skills and job knowledge -  85% has to do with people skills. Even the most congenial among us can find ourselves facing a workplace bully. If that bully is our boss, things become even more complicated. Seeing oneself as a victim is never empowering . It’s important to remember that bullies can only bully those who allow themselves to be bullied.

From the very beginning of a situation like this, it’s important for an employee to take charge. Document everything. First, have a conversation with the manager to get clear about the nature of her problem with you. Is it about  job performance? attitude? something else? The employee should ask for whatever she needs to correct the situation: more training, better tools, coaching. If the manager continues to berate the employee, the employee needs to go through the proper channels to report the manager. If that does not produce a change in the manager’s behavior, the employee is left with a decision: do I allow myself to continue to be treated this way, do I put even more time/energy into seeking justice, or do I look for another job? It’s important to get out before the situation takes a toll on one’s physical and mental health. There will be many feelings to sort through, including the horrible feeling that the manager, and others involved, have gotten away with the mistreatment. Working through this with a competent therapist, or clergy member, will help the employee understand why he allowed himself to be treated this way, and offer an opportunity to explore alternative ways of handling mistreatment in the future. Most importantly, it will help the individual heal.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Story (as published in Newsday, May 10, 2014)

“Joey got an earring, Mom. Can I get one, too?” my firstborn asked at age 6.
Trying not to sound judgmental, I said, “That’s a pretty grown-up thing for a first-grader. Do you know how they do that?”
Jason shook his head.
“They take a needle,” I said, gesturing with my two index fingers about eight inches apart.
“Ohhh,” Jason said, his wide eyes on my extended fingers. “Maybe I’ll wait until middle-school.”
“OK,” I said, glad it was that easy.
“Mom, do you promise I can have an earring in when I get to middle-school?”
“Absolutely,” I said, and didn’t give it another thought.
That was 1995. Five years later, Jason and I were having our “day together.” Each year, I would spend one entire day with each of the kids and let them choose what they wanted to do. The year before, Jason and I went to Yankee Stadium. We wore Yankees jerseys and baseball caps. We sat in the sunshine, inhaling the delectable smell of stadium hot dogs while eating Carvel ice cream out of miniature baseball helmets. I couldn’t wait to hear what he wanted to do this year.

“Let’s go to the Broadway Mall,” he said.

“OK,” I said, trying not to show my disappointment. I’d rather get my teeth cleaned than go shopping.
My loquacious son was unusually quiet. Would this be the new normal now that he was in middle school? The thought put a lump in my throat.
After visiting the mall in Hicksville, we stopped at Carvel. I watched my 11-year-old as he held the cone and licked the vanilla ice cream, amazed at how much one can love a child.
I felt, as I had all day, something wedged between us. I couldn’t identify what it was. I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to risk making him uncomfortable and perhaps even more distant. I blinked away the tears.
“Mom, can I tell you something?”
“Of course, Love,” I said, turning toward him.
“Remember when you promised I could get my ear pierced when I got to middle school?”
“Of course, I remember,” I said.
“I really wanted to get my ear pierced today.”
Relieved this was what had caused his silence, I said, “Why didn’t you say something?”
“I was afraid you wouldn’t remember.”
“Do you want to go back to the mall now?”

“You would take me back to get my ear pierced?” he asked incredulously.
“A promise is a promise,” I said.
And off we went. Afterward, we took pictures in a photo booth with him grinning broadly, pointing to the cubic zirconium stud in his ear, and me looking shocked in the background.
I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of my sixth-grader having a pierced ear. I knew some people would view it as trashy, but demonstrating to my son that I would always keep my word was what was most important to me.

The earring had to be removed for baseball and ice hockey, league rules. Jason soon tired of putting it in and taking it out, and cleaning the piercing with alcohol and bacitracin  ointment.

He eventually stopped wearing the earring, but I hope his memory of the promise kept will last a lifetime.

-Rita Maniscalco

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Wishes for You

I wish you a healthy body and a sharp mind. 
I wish you the courage to love fully, deeply, fearlessly. It’s the only way that one can experience the true scope of loving and being loved.
I wish you the courage to give of your time, talent and treasure - beyond what feels comfortable.
I wish you the courage to hope even when things seem hopeless.
I wish you the courage to dream big: No one has ever achieved anything they didn’t first imagine.
I wish you the courage to stretch beyond your comfort zone: That’s where growth happens.
I wish you the courage to release anything that no longer serves so that you may create space for something exciting and new.
I wish you the courage to take that first, small step…

Friday, December 20, 2013

"NO ARMS, NO LEGS, NO PROBLEM" - Changing "It can't be done" to "I'll do whatever it takes to get it done."

#12 PERSEVERANCE: Nick Vujicic* was born with no arms and no legs. He faced all the challenges of growing up and decided that there was a reason for every single one of the challenges we face. He was upset with what he perceived as a restless, deeply unhappy population of young people and the increasing teen suicide rate. By the age of 19, he had already begun fulfilling his dream of encouraging others by sharing his story. He became a world famous motivational speaker.

In 1969, at age 27, Stephen Hawking** was diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given two years to live. He is almost totally paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device. He is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. His book A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times bestseller list for a record 237 weeks. He taught at Cambridge for 30 years, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S. Stephen has been married twice and has three children.

What does it take to persevere? It takes not letting circumstances dictate what’s possible for you. It takes a vision of what life will look like once the challenge is overcome. It’s not about envisioning a different life, but envisioning your life lived a different way.

As you pursue your goal, you will encounter obstacles. You will make mistakes. You may even become discouraged. Accept that that will be part of the process. When it happens change, “It can’t be done,” to “What will it take to get this done?” 

It is unlikely that you’ll ever have to face anything as challenging as both Nick and Stephen face every day. Take inspiration from them and others who have persevered. Stay focused. Keep your eye on the prize and move forward. 

*To read more about Nick Vujicic:
**To read more about Stephen Hawking:

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Ask yourself these two question: What obstacles have I faced in the past that kept me from reaching my goals? What type of support would have been helpful? Here are some types of support you might need. 

  • ·         Family and Friends: Share your plans with family members and friends whose support is important to you. Use any negative comments from naysayers as motivation. If someone withholds his/her support, ask yourself: Do I really need it to succeed? If it’s a life-partner or close friend, ask yourself: How will it impact our relationship if I move forward? How will it impact our relationship if I don’t move forward?

  • ·         Therapy or counseling: If you have a deep-seeded issue that’s keeping you stuck in the past, you may need therapy before you can successfully achieve your goal. If you suffer from addiction or have serious marital issues, counseling can help.

  • ·         Education and Training: Make sure you have the knowledge, proper licensing or certification you’ll need reach you goal, but be careful not to get stuck here. Ask yourself, do I really need to take one more class, get one more certificate, earn one more degree, or am I procrastinating because I’m afraid to move forward? At some point, one has to stop studying and start doing. There are things one learns from experience that can’t be learned taking a class.

  • ·         Mentor: You don't need to re-invent the wheel: See if someone who has already accomplished what you wish to accomplish will mentor you. Expect to pay them for their time.  
  • ·        Coach: If you don’t even know where to begin, hire a coach to help you design a path, set goals, create action steps, and give you the tools, support, and accountability that will keep you moving forward.
  •     Financial advice
  •     Legal advice

    Be willing to invest in your success. Whatever you spend on the support will more than pay for itself in time and money saved by shortening the learning curve and avoiding costly mistakes.