Stop the bullying! It’s insidious and all too pervasive


Sharing your story can be powerful.

We started Hardlines HR Advisor in the middle of Covid, as we saw the investment in human capital, namely, your coworkers, come to the forefront. Covid fractured our psyches and bent our lives in painful directions. But through it all, we had to show up for work.

Our mandate is to provide information and intel to help this industry stay current and competitive. Through the pandemic, we realized we needed to address the people side of our industry as well as the merchandising trends and corporate takeovers and the latest product innovations.

So, we started sharing stories of companies and individuals on the HR side of the equation. Many HR leaders have stepped up to support us. Consultants and coaches have taken time to share with us their expertise and insights, including Sarah McVanel, chief recognition officer at Greatness Magnified. But one blog post she sent out earlier in the fall really stood out for me. In it, she shared a story of being bullied throughout her life. I thought: no way. Sarah is so together, so grounded, so professional. She didn’t get bullied.

Then I read the post. I was so wrong, my assumptions so off-track.

McVanel started out her post with this:

“The strongest injustices you experience in your formative years influence your life purpose. For me, it was bullies. Oh man, I cannot handle a bully! I was bullied my whole life. And I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to helping spread recognition as one powerful way to help create toxic-free zones. Let me share a bit of context so you can see why it’s an unwavering, non-negotiable, unchangeable mission of mine and everyone here at Greatness Magnified.”

She went on to share a litany of incidents that typified the treatment she received regularly from fellow classmates, first in elementary school, but continuing through high school. The ill treatment even carried over to the workplace, including one boss “who might have been Satan’s mother.” Wow.

I sent her a note thanking her and she replied with even more detail of the cruelty she faced. That resulted in another blog the following week. There, McVanel dug even deeper into her own story, and how pervasive and detrimental bullying can be—any kind of bullying.

(I encourage you to take a few minutes from your busy day to read her account.—Michael McLarney)