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When we think of bullying, we think of children and of bullying in school or on the playground. The sad fact is that bullying can be just as much an issue for people in the workplace. Bullying is never easy to deal with no matter where or how it occurs. Bullies push boundaries.


I have a client who was in a situation at work. She had been working there for four years and had received positive feedback about the quality of work that she was doing from two previous supervisors.

Kim’s current supervisor was giving her a hard time, criticizing her work at every opportunity and telling her she was useless, and Kim’s supervisor was telling others in the office the same thing about Kim, too. Kim was beginning to be afraid to go to work. She was showing symptoms of anxiety because of the bullying that she perceived was going on in her office.

When Bullying Makes You Afraid to Go to Work

There is an expectation that we have of being safe in our place of work. Most people spend a great portion of their waking hours at their job. Typically, a standard work day is at least 8 hours. If you consider the fact that there is a one hour lunch break, then you are at work for 9 hours. What happens when you are afraid to go to work?

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Irritability
  • Bowel issues

This is not a comprehensive list; there are many ways that people show distress over being bullied.

What Does Bullying Look Like at Work?

  • Sarcasm, directed in an offhand manner and constant criticism. (I was only joking)
  • Violence, in any form
  • Harassment, like name calling and personal insults
  • Devaluing of a person, physically or emotionally
  • Being shouted at
  • Intimidation

You are allowed to refuse to be abused. Kim did the right thing. She recognized that, in her situation, speaking directly to the bully was not going to work. She worked in a place with a wonderful human resources department. She was able to go to them and tell them that she was ready to leave. In fact, she had applied for numerous jobs and had interviews lined up.

Human resources was actually able to arrange a speedy resolution by talking to the person who was doing the bullying. The supervisor had not been aware of the effect that her behavior was causing and immediately changed it. This kind of result can happen, although it doesn’t always work out that way.

Kim was able to stay in her preferred job and develop a better relationship with her supervisor. Others are not necessarily as lucky and the only resolution that works is to find other employment.

What Can You Do if You are Being Bullied at Work?

Stand your ground by being assertive and knowing your own value…and assertive is different from aggressive.

Visualize a peaceful resolution for all involved.

Report it, and document it if necessary, especially if you don’t feel safe in addressing the bully directly.

Be prepared to walk…to find other employment where you can be respected, if the situation cannot be resolved in a peaceful manner.

The most important thing to remember is that no one deserves bullying. The best defense is to have good boundaries and to recognize that you deserve to be treated with respect, no matter where you are. All relationships need to be rooted in respect, and the work place is no different. 

Unfortunately, bullying is more common than it should be. That doesn’t mean that it is to be tolerated, in any circumstance. When we stand up to bullying in the work place, we validate our self worth and draw a line in the sand. When we set those boundaries…all of us…bullying will eventually come to an end.

"Drive your own life…you deserve to, don't you?"  Sherie Venner

** My client's name has been changed to protect her identity…

Image Credit:  jscreationsz


We’ve all been there…at a time in our lives where we believed that anything was possible…especially a healthy relationship. Then reality stepped in, we had a number of firsts…first boyfriend/girlfriend…first break up…first marriage…and for some of us, first divorce.  Along the way, the gleam wore off and we started to see things differently and then…this stepped in…

Many people develop a fear of failing…they look back and see all of those times when they “failed” at creating a healthy relationship and they began to accept that bad relationships or relationships that were “less than” were normal for them…and it doesn’t need to be that way, does it?

There is no failure

What does Failing at Healthy Relationship Building Mean to You?

For a lot of people, they look at other people’s relationships and think “Why can’t I have that” and “I am a failure”. I am here to tell you that if you believe that having had a bad relationship equals you being a failure, you are wrong.

“There is no failure. Only feedback. “ Robert Allen

That’s right…look at this from a different perspective. What if you believed that there was no failure? What if you believed that you only got feedback…that the meaning of a bad relationship or the meaning of a relationship that ended was just “What did I learn from this experience?”. It might change a lot of things…how you view yourself. 

Being labeled a failure is rampant in our society. It starts when we are young, by well meaning parents who want to protect us from “failing” and from teachers who give us a “failing” grade. They meant well. The intention was to protect and for some people, that is how it worked for them. For others, it left a lifetime stigma where, they learned that it wasn’t the behavior that was wrong of had failed, that is was them.

YOU are Not a Failure

  • Your belief system might not work for you.
  • Your behaviors might not work for you.
  • You might bite off more than you can chew.
  • You might experience a life that does not live up to want you want.
  • You might have habits that are less than ideal.

However, YOU are NOT a failure. You are a wonderful human being who has found many ways that don’t work…just like Mr. Thomas Edison who found 10,000 ways of how not to create a light bulb.

If you haven’t achieved the level of success in building a relationship with another or financial success in your chosen field, you haven’t failed. You are still learning…and we all are…still learning…while we are here…

When you take fear of failure out of the equation of building a healthy relationship, you can step out into that future with more confidence…then it becomes easier to have what you want…because the fear will no longer hold you back. You can take those steps that you need to, in order to have that healthy relationship that you deserve to have.

So…how would your life look different…if you believed, really believed that there was no failure…that it was just information that you received…that the question was now “How is that working for you?”…what would that do?

Would that free you to do more…to look at things from a different perspective and maybe…try something new…and see where that leads you…it would allow you to begin the process of creating that healthy relationship that you do want…and let go…of all those behaviors in the past that you labelled “failure” that really weren’t…they were just another way that didn’t work…so see what will work…it can be that easy.

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?”  Sherie Venner


We have a family legend passed down through the years about the Titanic, that famous unsinkable ship that sunk 100 years ago this month.  Yes, my great grandmother, grandmother, great aunt and two great uncles “missed the boat”. Because of that, I am alive today and I am grateful for them “missing the boat”, because the boat was the Titanic.


In 1912, my great grandmother and her four children were anxiously awaiting an opportunity to start a new life in Canada with my great grandfather. He had come over earlier and bought land to start their new life. He had a sod shack built and was ready for his family to reunite with him.

My great grandparents were not rich. They lived in South Wales and my great grandmother had come from a wealthy family. When the voyage of the Titanic was announced, my great great uncle, who was extremely wealthy, provided the money for the passage for his niece and her small children to travel in style and safety on the Titanic.

I can imagine the excitement that Gran had as she gathered up all of her belongings and her small children. Voyages for emigrants were notoriously harsh in that day and age. She must have been so pleased to think that her children were going on the safest ship, one that was being shouted as being “unsinkable”.

With her four small children in tow, she set out for the train. Along the way, something happened, a flat tire, perhaps…here the details begin to get foggy. Gran did not like to talk about that time and so the details have been lost along the way. What we do know is that they did not make it. They missed the train that was to take them to the port where the Titanic was sailing from.

They did not make it on time and so the Titanic sailed without them. So here I sit today, alive because of a missed opportunity. Yes, there were survivors of that horrible maritime disaster…710. Would my grandmother have been among them? It is hard to tell…can you imagine the horror going through a mother’s heart trying to save four children while that ship sank around them? I don’t know if any of them would have survived.

What Missing the Titanic Meant for Our Family

Gran, my great grandmother, was an amazing woman with a heart of gold. My grandmother grew up, married and had my mother…and so I exist…as do my brother, his children and grandchildren…my children and grandchildren. For that, I am grateful.

For whatever reason that my ancestors missed the sailing and sinking of the Titanic, I am forever thankful. I know that we are all significant in this world of ours, no matter what we accomplish in this life. 

We often moan missed opportunities and “what might have been”…we are not clairvoyant and can’t see what would have happened…in this instance, the world saw the significance of missing that ship.

Blessings in Disguise

My great grandmother had been upset when she missed the sailing of the Titanic…to her it represented failure, the loss of the precious dollars that were to take her to see her husband start their new life…and then, when the news traveled to her home in South Wales, the full impact of what they had really missed hit her…and for the rest of her life, Gran never took life for granted. She was a very spiritual woman and she lived that way…she, at age 65, raised my mom from infancy, all the way to adult hood, on her own on that small prairie farm.

When you think back on events in your life…can you see those blessings in disguise? Those things that would not have happened…those connections that we can see…it's all connected…

It’s all about perspective and how we view things, isn’t it? They did manage to safely cross the Atlantic and start their new life in North America in 1913, the following year. As family legends go, this one about my grandmother and her family missing the maiden voyage of the Titanic is quite amazing to us…and yet all families have those stories…similar stories…  Do you have an interesting story about your ancestors? I would be interested in knowing! Post it in the comment section!

"Drive your own life…you deserve to, don't you?"  Sherie Venner

Image Credit:  Victor Habbick


Do you have difficulty settingl boundaries in your relationships? Perhaps you think it is normal to merge with the other person, to become as one. It is a common myth.


“Respect yourself if you would have others respect you.” Balthazar Gracian

What Can Happen in Relationships without Personal Boundaries?

Financial problems

Fidelity issues

Violence and physical abuse

Low self esteem

Emotional abuse

Doubt, fear, anger and other negative emotions


Lack of maturity

Do all of these happen in all relationships without personal boundaries? No…not necessarily…and the degree to which they can happen are very much effected by different factors…

How does Setting Boundaries Protect You?

When you are a person with healthy boundaries, there are certain behaviors that you just don’t tolerate. You have certain expectations from other people. Here are a few of the expectations that a person with healthy boundaries has.

  • An expectation of personal safety when in relationship, emotionally and physically 
  • An expectation of mutual respect
  • An expectation of love and loyalty
  • An expectation of having the relationship honored, financially, physically, emotionally

So let’s look at a practical example. Charlene is  a woman who is in a relationship with a man that she has been dating for 6 months. John keeps her waiting for him when they have arranged to meet. He doesn’t phone or text to say that he is going to be late.

He keeps her waiting for an hour and does it on a regular basis, with no valid excuse (like a flat tire). It just doesn’t occur to him that she would be worried or that it would be inconvenient to her. That is a lack of respect.

John also has a terrible habit of using sarcasm when he is talking to Charlene. He gets angry and although he has not hit her, has thrown some of her ceramic figurines against the wall and broken them. 

Even though Charlene thinks that because they have a lot of common interests, they are a good match, she is wrong. John does not treat her with respect. If his anger ever got out of control, there is a chance that he would be violent to her.

Charlene has inadvertently let this bad behavior continue by allowing it to. She has not set firm personal boundaries and said “No, that isn’t acceptable”. If she had solid personal boundaries, she would protect herself emotionally and physically. 

There is an old expression….”Give them an inch and they will take a mile” and that applies to boundaries, too. If you aren’t firm in your boundaries, and you give an inch, some people will continue to push at the soft boundaries you have, until they push them all the way back. The thing is, you have to let them do that…they are your boundaries, after all, aren’t they?

What Comes First in Setting Boundaries?

  • Know who you really are. When you have a clear picture in your mind of who you are and how valuable you are, whether in relationship or not, you won’t accept bad behavior.
  • Know that you deserve to actually have personal boundaries. Everybody does, you know.
  • Know that your feelings are just as important as the feelings of the other person. 
  • Know that it is okay to say no…not just for the sake of saying no…but if you feel like a personal boundary is being crossed, step back and say no.
  • Know that, even if you are in partnership with the other, you are a separate individual, responsible for your own life…as they are responsible for their own…

It can be hard for others to accept that you are setting limits especially if you have let them get away with bad behavior in the past. Be patient and set limits anyway. If there is a true bond of love, your partner will be okay with it, eventually, and your bond will grow. If they aren’t okay with you setting personal boundaries…well then… that is another story, isn't it?

A relationship is a meeting of equals who love and respect each other.  If you don’t have personal boundaries that your partner respects, your relationship is in trouble. If you take responsibility for their behavior, you deprive them of the opportunity to grow, to own their own lives so that they can learn.

There is an image and a stereotype of romantic love that is put forth by Hollywood and the movie makers. It isn’t real. In order for a real relationship to succeed, both people need to know who they are and have personal boundaries. Then, they can work together as two powerful individuals to create a real relationship, one that actually works.

"Drive your own life…you deserve to, don't you?"  Sherie Venner


Did you feel that you needed to be perfect growing up? Perfectionist tendencies are most often started when people are children. It can have its origins in the school system, in peer groups, or be handed down from parents through expectations.


Recently, on Grey’s Anatomy, there was a very brilliant scene. Mark Sloan, a perfectionist plastic surgeon did not want to allow Dr. Richard Webber to transplant a less than perfect liver. Dr. Webber insisted that the liver was good. This is what he said to Mark Sloan, the acting chief, that had such a profound effect and allowed the lifesaving surgery to continue.

“Well, I don’t need pretty and I don’t need perfect…what I need is for this to work” Richard Webber (Grey’s Anatomy).

This scene had impact and as a recovering perfectionist myself, it really made a lot of sense.

Signs that You are a Perfectionist

  • You routinely take on more than you can do
  • You have unrealistic expectations of what you can do
  • You have unrealistic time frames in which you want to accomplish what you want to do
  • You never think that what you do is good enough
  • You have higher standards of behavior or achievements for yourself than you do for others
  • You are always trying to prove yourself and have a hard time relaxing
  • You beat yourself up, usually verbally or through other self-destructive behaviors (such as gambling, drinking, overeating, overspending, sexual addictions, or other addictions) when you perceive yourself as having failed at your task

Just Say No to Perfectionist Tendencies

That sounds simple and it isn’t. The person who is a practicing perfectionist has a hard time saying no. They can’t say no to requests that are not in their best interests. They can’t say no to themselves when they set unrealistic expectations.

Let’s talk about Sally. She works full time, has a family to care for on top of work responsibilities. She has been up with her teething infant for two nights in a row. Just as she is about to sink into her couch and have a light nap, she gets a phone call asking her to bake 6 dozen cupcakes for her son’s kindergarten bake sale.

If Sally is a perfectionist, she will immediately think “Yes, I can do that!” in spite of her growing exhaustion. Her mind will race at break neck speed, frantically trying to find a way to manage it. If Sally is a realist, she will say “I really wish I could but no…not this time around…maybe next time.” Or if she really wanted to contribute to the bake sale, she could offer to make a donation of cash, in lieu of the cupcakes, or come up with another arrangement that worked for her.

Self-care is not a priority for people who have perfectionist tendencies. They look after everyone else’s needs first. The problem here is that no one looks after you, do they? If you harbor an idea in the back of your mind that someone else will do it for you, it doesn’t work that way…

Is Compulsion a Part of Being a Perfectionist?

It might be…if you feel that you MUST be perfect, if you feel that you have NO choice, then those are signs that it is a compulsion. In that case, just saying no will be very difficult for you. In that case, there are NLP techniques that can help…one of those is the compulsion blowout. 

The compulsion blowout technique can be done by yourself; however, because it involves intensifying the compulsion first, it might be better to have this done with an NLP practitioner as your guide. The compulsion blowout can be done quickly, if you do it right. : D

Letting the Idea of Being a Perfectionist Go

Surrender is an important part for the recovering perfectionist to embrace. For those of you who aren’t compelled to be a perfectionist, here is a simple technique. 

Visualize an event in the future, a small event where in the past you would have played the part of a perfectionist. Imagine yourself at that time in the future…see yourself in that event…hear yourself saying no…feel good about saying no…feel that power…deep inside… 

Imagine a world where you are important…where you can set time aside to take care of yourself…where you allow yourself to take breaks…let go of any resistance and struggle…yes, you can…just let it go…like a soft breeze that just passes through…feel that love that you have for yourself and let that kindness flow over you…embrace that calm…and just be…and realize that you are enough…just the way you are…

All you can do is enough…isn't it? Yes…strive for excellence…let the idea of perfection go. Once you see that there is a law of diminishing returns in being a perfectionist, that is isn’t doing you any good, it gets easier to just let it go…

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?”  Sherie Venner