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When I Learned About Fear and Intimidation in the Workplace

Experience Submitted by Aaron

For me, one of the great joys of doing a spiritual work is to see positive changes within myself. As spiritual change is a gradual process, I have seen that changes are not necessarily evident, often they are unseen. Yet if I am working on myself, I can see these changes accumulate, and sometimes when I am exposed to intense emotional events I can be surprise by the level of change within. This tale is of one such incident…

Office Bullying and Intimidation

I used to work in the head office of a large corporation. It was a very hierarchical organisation with multiple levels of management. If one wished to climb the corporate ladder there were a couple of well-established formulas, one of which involved fear and intimidation, nowadays it’s commonly known as bullying.

To be the victim of a bully is a terrible experience. One can feel a gnawing fear, physical symptoms such as sweaty palms and a dry mouth and a general loss of mental clarity which makes it very difficult to speak lucidly and precisely. It appears the only people capable of triumphing over a bully are those heroic characters in the movies, certainly not a mere mortal such as me.

There was one particularly senior manager in the organisation who was a renowned bully. Stories of him turning people into quivering jelly were legendary. He had started his career in the lowest possible role and worked his way up to become a senior executive responsible for around a thousand staff. What he hated most was for something to go wrong in his division, this would draw his full wrath.

A Heated Meeting

Prior to the incident I had only met him once, at an awards ceremony. At the time I found him quite charming, but I was under no illusions as to his ability to turn on a coin. Well that time occurred a few months later. An incident transpired which, as I recall, made it into the media and his division appeared to be at fault. My manager was summoned to attend an early morning crisis meeting, as a ‘technical expert’ my manager requested my attendance.

There were several people in the lift heading to the executive floor, all looked very tense. Exiting the lift I entered a room dominated by a single large table designed to seat 40. It was crowded beyond capacity with besuited professionals, experts in their designated fields. In normal circumstances you would expect light banter, but the room was silent, faces were drawn, the fear palpable.

Over the years I had attended several such meetings, but this was another level. I was familiar with the attendees’ emotions, such meetings are intimidating events and no matter how knowledgeable you may be in your subject area, raw emotions, egos, are brutal and debilitating psychologically.

Into this meeting strode the senior manager and he was livid. Expletives flew as he shouted his displeasure at all and sundry. Some people visibly recoiled and quivered in their seats. Then the questions started, he barked them out one after the other in rapid succession. The gathered experts, controlled by fear, were incapable of answering clearly, stumbling over their responses. This only served to make him angrier.

The questions asked were actually quite logical and insightful, the gathered cast should have been capable of clearly responding, but the combination of his anger and their fear tripped everyone up and it was a shambles.

I was seated on the same side as the senior manager, though at the far end of the table from him. Strangely, every few minutes he would lean forward and stare around the people between us directly at me, something wasn’t quite right. Anyhow, the inquisition continued and it wasn’t going well. Nobody was able to provide the assurances he sought, the atmosphere got tenser, he grew angrier and everyone else more fearful.

Experiencing the Benefits of Belsebuub’s Techniques

Finally the questions head our way. The senior manager leaned forward in his chair and barked a question at my manager. My manager turned to me to respond, all eyes were now on me.

What was quite remarkable was my inner state. Having practiced Belsebuub’s teachings for several years, studying egos both within the moment and via meditation I had developed a degree of detachment to some of them. My answers came out clear, concise and considered, unlike my colleagues I was not controlled by fear. The senior manager appeared unsettled, he fired another question to which I responded with a similar psychological state. More questions followed, but with each question his manner softened.

Satisfied he turned his attention to others. Immediately his aggression returned as did the fear in my colleagues.

After the meeting I was filled with a sense of amazement. It had been fascinating on so many levels. I was amazed at how such capable people as my colleagues floundered so badly, crucified by their own psychology and ravaging egos. I was also pleasantly surprised by my own reactions, how the application of the techniques taught by Belsebuub had so profoundly changed my ability to control my inner state and react under pressure. The other thing I found fascinating was how the senior manager became confused when his egos weren’t met with a corresponding egoic reaction, he was genuinely unsettled.

Its experiences such as these which I find so rewarding. They make the difficulties one faces attempting to do a spiritual work worthwhile. To see fundamental change in one’s own psyche is truly rewarding.



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  • This was great to read in such a detail Aaron, thank you very much for sharing!

    To a lesser degree maybe, I experienced something similar with my former boss. He was generally a very good person, generous and intelligent, but he used to stress out when things were not going well, and similarly to your senior manager, “bark” his questions and orders at us. And just as in your case, towards the end of my work for him I managed to adopt a different way of behavior with him, based on the self-discovery work I learned at Belsebuub’s courses.

    I still remember one amazing phone call I had with him. In this phone call, he was very angry as I was late with some freelance creative work I was doing for him. But even though I knew he was right and therefore, from the ego-perspective had all the “right” to intimidate me and put me down, I remained calm and answered his angry and bossy questions in a practical way, apologizing, accepting my mistakes, offering solutions, and so on. I also let him talk about his worries, and how stressed he was about the work not being done on time, and as we were talking like this for a while, his behavior started to change, his voice started to sound almost apologetic, and the discussion soon turned to something like a psychology session, with him talking about his problems and me listening and here and there offering some encouraging words and understanding attitude. After the call ended, I was not drained at all as I used to be before. I felt a lot of love towards my boss, and felt genuinely inspired to work hard to finish that job as soon as possible. I was really amazed at how the techniques I learned on Belsebuub’s courses worked, and how even the next time I met my boss in person, his attitude towards me kept being different.

    • That’s a good example of how our response can influence others for the better Lucia. It’s funny how you became like a kind of counsellor to your boss, rather than immediately jumping onto the defensive, as most people would in the same situation.

      • Hi Michael,

        I think what may have helped in this case was the fact that I had done something objectively wrong. I knew he was right, and that helped to loose the grip of the pride/defense egos. So it was a bit easier to apply the technique of the elimination and stay in awareness. In the cases of righteous anger, when another person does something bad or unjust to me, I find it much more difficult to remain in a detached state and apply the elimination technique. 🙁

        • Yes Lucia, it seems like your objective point of view in that situation helped you to detach yourself from it and respond in a more appropriate manner.

          I’ve seen in the past how my defensive response to situations has clouded my objectivity and caused a worse outcome, but I can also think of instances where an overly guilty response has made me accept blame for something that was outside of my control. For example, sometimes mistakes were made, or situations arose, which I felt bad about and quickly accepted responsibility for. But in hindsight, I saw that these weren’t really a result of my own omission, but that I had reacted guilty, as my feeling of regret was increased once the finger of blame was pointed at me as the person who was “on the scene” at the time.

          I’ve often found it difficult in the past to get an accurate perception of myself, including my own strengths and weaknesses, as I’ve found that a lot of my self-image has been formed through the opinions and reactions of others, which I have then internalised. This has been particularly tricky when someone has identified a certain characteristic within me, which I didn’t associate with at all.

          However, by studying my own psyche more, I’ve found it easier to spot where someone has picked up on a genuine weak point within me and is being objective, or when the other person’s perspective has been clouded by their own subjectivity. For example, it can be fairly common for people to try and disassociate themselves from a particular flaw, by projecting the unwanted characteristic onto others, whereas an objective assessment can be a valuable starting point for inner change.

          Gaining self-knowledge can certainly be a long and complex process, but it’s encouraging to see some positive changes taking place in my daily life and to be less dominated by unconscious habits and reactions.

  • Thanks for sharing, Aaron. I liked how vividly you described the situation. It’s great that you were able to experience that accumulated effect of the self-knowledge practices and effectively be able to save yourself from the negativity of that poisonous situation.

    It also reminded me how it’s useful to have that intention to study about myself during the different situations of life. Then tough situations like that also become valuable opportunities.

  • That was an intense story Aaron. Glad to hear that you were able to detach yourself from the senior manager’s rage and the fear that was surrounding it from your colleagues and react so calmly and walk away from that meeting unscathed.

  • What I found interesting in your story Aaron is that it shows how in such a high profile professional world that may look respectable on the outside, people in suits and with credentials, knowledge in their field, status and everything, everyone is still controlled by the very same basic instincts and drives as people with less education and image in society. Being controlled by fear you lose all that respect and all the power you seemed to have, even though it’s the same with anger really, the power it tries to exert over others is held in contempt by them and is not true power or strength. The true power is in the control you have over yourself, like you shared, and it’s a unique and wonderful thing to have.

    I used to work in an office environment, though it was much less high profile and just a very basic job. Our project had three team leaders with very distinct characters and ways of trying to manage people. One was passive and quiet; another was explosive, loud and bully like; and the third was jovial and friendly.

    The most interesting was the difference between how people responded to the bully and to the friendly boss. The friendly boss seemed to actually care about you, he would joke around with you and made you feel like an equal, he treated you with respect and integrity, and so you felt the same towards him. When he would ask people to do things or change something, he did it in a friendly way even though sometimes sternly, but people were happy to oblige. Sometimes even when stern he was doing it with humor, and that seemed to have the biggest impact and people would comply immediately. He had true authority and I feel like just the example of his way of being somehow made a lasting impact on me. Whereas the bully type would use crude language and shout at people to make them do what they had to do, trying to make them feel like he had authority and power, but it actually seemed to have much less impact on them and they would comply grudgingly or even just temporarily, and it created a negative atmosphere, and made him look less powerful in the end.

    Or another office job I worked in where the team leader was very overworked and stressed out and would rage and shout at people regularly. It had the effect of your just wanting to keep out of her sight and being afraid to ask questions about your job and trying to hide or cover up mistakes! She repeatedly shouted at some people in particular and about some issues in particular, but there never seemed to be any change, but there was a lot of tension in that project and I was glad to get out of it, and people were leaving all the time. Again she didn’t have any true authority or power or impact, but just the effect of fear keeping people subdued but secretly carrying on with whatever they were constantly being told off about.

    But so your experience really shows how amazing self-knowledge and inner change is, to be able to keep your inner integrity no matter what the situation and what others around you are feeling, keeping sight of the facts and the truth and not be bullied. It was very nice to read it so thanks a lot for sharing!

    • Hi Laura,

      What you mentioned about the effects of those particular leadership styles is interesting. I’ve seen many variations on the three main styles which you mentioned, in various settings.

      I’ve worked in a lot of different places and noticed how the autocratic leadership style is actually counter-productive, as although subordinate people may put on an outward appearance of compliance while in the presence of the leader, they will often complain once the authority figure is out of sight and go about the task in a half-hearted way, as it’s something they’ve been forced to do, rather than something they want to do. Or as you also mentioned, those led under this style may even disregard the leader’s directives altogether and simply go back to their usual ways, once they have the opportunity to do so.

      By contrast, democratic leadership tends to be far more successful for all parties, as those who are subordinate feel they have a voice and are respected, so in turn often develop a willingness to take on new tasks, as it becomes rewarding. The leader also benefits, as it creates a much more harmonious and productive environment, where people feel they are a valued member of a team, rather than feeling pressured into doing things that they would otherwise not want to do.

      The same results were found in some studies in school, where those children taught by teachers with either an authoritarian or laissez-faire style tended to mess around when the teacher was out of the class. Whereas those who were guided in a democratic way tended to continue working once the teacher left the room, as they had a clear focus, but were included in the decision-making process (e.g. choosing which friends to work with, or how to complete a project).

    • Hey Laura,

      It makes me think of something I’ve heard before that persuasion is a spiritual force. I’ve also met people who’ve been naturally good managers, they’ve had a caring and respectful nature which comes through and that’s how they get a team to work well for them! I remember my mum telling me something similar, as she used to manage a team – she said something like, most people have an innate tendency to want to please others, and their boss especially, and if you’re kind to them in general then they’re much more easy to manage and much more productive!

      Good point about how everyone through all echelons of society are basically driven by the same forces. No matter how professional you are, how well paid, you can still be controlled by someone else’s moods.

      • Ella, I was going to add that in my comment but then didn’t : D Persuasion is a subtle spiritual force, and using plain violent force is what the dark side does in contrast.

        Mike, I think that’s a good way to put it concisely, a leader using force has people working in a half-hearted way and slipping out of it at any possible opportunity, whereas a democratic leader has people working willingly, even when out of sight, doing the best they can. And like Ella said, I think it has to do with respect, if you respect someone because of their integrity and kindness you want to please them and do your best.

    • Interesting points Laura, thanks. I’ve also seen some of this in action in jobs I’ve had.

      Also when teaching if I would set the atmosphere to be such that I would pit myself against a whole class of high school kids, and then proceed try to get them to do something 🙂 haha, good luck with that.

      Like Michael said I’ve also seen how a company that accepts democratic input can function more harmoniously and better than one where a single person calls all the shots all the time.

  • Thanks for sharing, Aaron. That sounds like quite the situation to remain calm in, especially given the fears of the collective group… and it sounded like a great learning experience.

  • Thanks for taking us on that trip into the lion’s den of the business Aaron, interesting world for me to read about.

    It seems a suit of armour might be more suitable than a suit on that occasion 😉 But all joking aside what stood from your account is that Belsebuub’s techniques on self-knowledge really do equip someone with the tools and means to face the situations of life. Armed as an inner scientist of oneself, like someone else mentioned, and able to see and change what’s happening within us. This is fantastic.

    It seems that situation is also particularly juicy to study all the potential roots and connections. Like why was that boss angry in the first place, what goals or ambitions of his were blocked etc. But also what does that fear make you do, what’s happening in the different psychic centres?

    That description, and the thought of the business world in general of ‘ambitious achievers’ actually seems like a very unpleasant environment to me. Sometimes you don’t have to look very deeply to see the resemblance to behaviour of the animal kingdom.

    I found the ‘you’re coming with me as a technical expert’ very funny. I’m not going in there alone! 😉

  • Thanks Aaron sounds like a rough meeting, I can really relate to what you say how if we are aware at how clear we can be in these chaotic situations, the difficulty is to try and remain clear, something really worth looking into

  • Interesting how you saw your colleagues unable to reply to the senior manager when it was clearly within their skill level and that the questions the senior manager asked were sensible.

    I also find that when put in a situation with strong emotions it is very difficult to respond to the questions and not the emotions. The technique of awareness and self observation are amazing in such circumstances. I’ve also had some breakthroughs in situations that I found difficult to face. These breakthroughs are amazing experiences.

  • This was amazing to read. I could almost see myself in that room, being yelled at. And yes, it is interesting that he felt unsettled by your response and lack of acting the way he was expecting you to. Maybe because his egos couldn’t control you. It makes me sad that he felt he had to yell and be angry with everyone. Causing people pain, really.

    Learning how to study myself has been wonderful for me as well. Just the chance to change.

  • Hi Aaron,

    from the way you describe the situation I can imagine it very well – I’ve met characters like that and been in similar situations, it’s very interesting to see the way fear turns people into a quivering mess, and I’ve been reduced to that state myself plenty of times, stumbling over words and all of a sudden feeling like my mouth is dangerously dehydrated! It must have been a powerful experience for you to be able to experience being ‘hermetically sealed’ and detached from the situation, especially one so intense. Also curious how your manager was glancing at you – perhaps something in him felt a different energy coming from you – and that he distinctly shifted when responding to you.

    I’ve also been on the other side – noticing that when I’ve been angry, the horrible energy of it that gets pleasure from domination, can just be encouraged when whoever I’m angry at shows fear/weakness. It’s the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of survival, the animal tests to see if it has superiority and if it’s met with resistance (someone ‘standing up to you’) then it backs down, if it’s given a clear path for expression, it gets inflamed. It’s like needing to show an aggressive dog that you’re bigger than it to make sure it doesn’t bite. When it thinks it’s got the upper hand it attacks. Of course the opposite is true too – looking in an dogs eyes can inflame it, and ‘standing up’ to a human can enrage them … in all this horrible mess the only real way out is to be able to stand in awareness. Thanks for the reminder to work on the inner reactions to be able to stand calm when a storm hits.

  • Thanks for sharing your story Aaron. It definitely goes to show what an impact gaining control over our emotional states can have in important situations in our lives. It’s great that by applying the techniques to study your own reactions, you were able to maintain your inner clarity, despite those around you being in turmoil.

  • Great story Aaron. It’s wonderful to be able to sit back and respond appropriately in these situations, even in the midst of others’ chaos. It is only when we are conscious that we are able to respond and not react like others. Also, it is interesting to watch how our own state affects those around us. Clearly in this situation, even though he was unaware of why, your calm mental state also impacted on the senior manager and he was then able to respond more calmly to you as well.

  • Thanks for sharing Aaron,

    Getting a handle on fear is amazing and it has to be experienced to be understood,
    Belsebuubs techniques are a real game changer.

About Belsebuub

belsebuub mark pritchard
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Mark Pritchard (Belsebuub) is an author and spiritual teacher that has been writing about and demonstrating practical techniques for self-discovery for more than twenty-five years. Read more

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