A few years back, I found myself in a toxic working environment.
I’d experienced challenging jobs before, but this was different. It was the first time I’d experienced what I’d call bullying. And it destroyed my confidence. Everything I did was picked apart, often my ‘mistakes’ raised in front of the entire workplace. Slowly, I became so anxious and unsure of myself I'd barely be able to write an email without physically shaking.
And that’s not me. Not at all.
A colleague, who had since left to join another agency, contacted me about a Client Director role. I should have been excited. It was a step up in terms of responsibility and seniority, and instead I was terrified. It was still hard to shake the feeling I’d been left with, that I was in fact, a bit rubbish.
She persisted and eventually I accepted, with the promise that she would mentor me. This new agency was lovely, but somehow I was a bag of nerves with a terrible case of imposter syndrome. The consequences of bullying are not easy to shake off.
What really helped was her quiet confidence in me, knowing when to push me, knowing when to step back. She was open and honest about her own self doubt and experience working with industry egos, which made me feel less isolated. Also watching her own a room, no matter how intimidated she might have felt, helped me shape my own approach to the way I worked.
It made me realise the strengths I bought to the workplace as a woman. My mentor was a naturally nurturing person, who had everyone else’s interest at heart. She never let anyone make her feel that was a weakness and seemed to take genuine joy in watching people around her flourish. It made me realise that I never wanted to make anyone feel the way I’d been made to feel in that previous agency.
Maddie, Client Director