Thyroid UK

Advice greatly appreciated

I have worked very happily in a charity shop for five shifts now. Today (Saturday) I arrived as usual (for my 6th shift) at 1pm; my shift was ending at 5pm. Within one hour I had been verbally abused & criticised at least three times by a male volunteer. Also, the lady manager who had previously told me how quick I was to learn, was very tetchy. Perhaps she was having a bad day. After one hour I went outside, contemplated, considered, analysed and knew I felt angry and upset. At 2.30pm I walked out. Later on, the manager phoned me but I didn't pick up. Two hours later she sent a text apologising for the man's behaviour & said she had talked to him about his demeanour.

I always seem to walk away. I said to a friend this evening that I've had emotional and mental abuse from birth (my father) and from two ex husbands. I walked away from all three and never ever regretted it. Now I've walked away from a volunteering job that I was really enjoying up until today. It makes me wonder if I have historical fear of abuse and I feel I have no alternative but to flee quickly. How do other folk stand up to bullies? It's now 10.15pm and I'm still angry and upset.

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Well, reading your posts, you had the nerve to travel to Iceland and visit the country. It sounds like you enjoyed it a lot. This shows you can be adventurous and brave.

When we've experienced thyroid disease it can knock our confidence. It affects our ability to manage relationships when hormones are out of whack. Maybe because we are so tired or because we experience life as more stressful than we usually would and therefore want to shut ourselves off from having to deal with others or perhaps a combination of reasons?

Because thyroid disease can fluctuate and a variety of things can affect or influence how well we use the replacement hormone, this can make it difficult for us to remain stable. Fluctiations are difficult to explain to people and difficult to manage. When you think about it, you've most likely dealt with a lot in your life and faced a lot of challenges. So in fact you must be a strong person who perseveres through difficult times. So I'm not sure why you think you run away? Sometimes we need to leave a situation for our own or another person's well being and that's a solution not an escape.

Maybe this volunteer role was just one challenge you don't need at this time? You'll probably find that everyone else finds this particular individual difficult too. You might try another volunteer role and find it perfectly ok.

You seem to have a strong sense of your own importance and value because you weren't willing to put up with being treated badly and that's a good thing. You'll probably find you're in a long list of volunteers this man has chased off.

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"When you think about it, you've most likely dealt with a lot in your life and faced a lot of challenges. So in fact you must be a strong person who perseveres through difficult times. So I'm not sure why you think you run away? Sometimes we need to leave a situation for our own or another person's well being and that's a solution not an escape." Thank you @Nanaedake - those words you said are very true.

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"After one hour I went outside, contemplated, considered, analysed and knew I felt angry and upset." - so there's the proof that you DO have an alternative to fleeing quickly. Or that is now the very very very slowest "quick flee" on record! That the manager was tetchy may have been because she was frustrated with the man repeating his bullying behaviour and knew she'd have to once again address it, "if" he is a serial offender; but in any case, what ever the reason for her attitude, that's not an excuse for her not effectively managing the behaviour of all the volunteers so that none feel they are free to abuse others, or free to take over her supervision duties by default. There's a mistaken view that because volunteers aren't paid, that they aren't required to carry out their volunteering work to an agreed standard, and that it can't be imposed through proper management. What should you do? That depends upon what you want to achieve - if you think the behaviour and attitude of both the manager and the volunteer can be changed, AND you want to return to the shop, then it might be worthwhile asking for a meeting with both the Manager and her line Manager to iron out where the problems lie and what will be done to improve things; otherwise if you think it unlikely, then notch it up as an experience and look elsewhere - with charity shops proliferating on every High St, I'm sure you could obtain another voluntary post elsewhere. Separately it could be worthwhile considering whether you might benefit from formal therapy to investigate and address any lingering impact of your father's abuse - as a therapist myself until I retired earlier this year, I would recommend that anyway because what ever the reality for you (contrary to popular modern belief, not everyone who suffers trauma is traumatised by it) there is a lingering question in your mind that you might have an "historical fear of abuse" and that it has had a deleterious affect on your life since. Often it is the fear of fear, rather than the original event(s) that can be causing the problem; but in any case, you could find it worthwhile to meet with a therapist.

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May be you could arrange to go back when this other person isn't around. Be a shame to stop when you enjoy it

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'He who runs away,

Lives to fight another day.'

Why waste your precious energy on arguing with people like that! I envy you your ability to just walk away. My 'fight' response is stronger than my 'flight' response, and it doesn't do me any good. I end up just as frustrated and angry as you are now. Unfortunately, the world is full of horrible people and bullies. And I don't suppose anyone ever finds the perfect answer to your question : how to deal with them. But it's not a reflection on you, it's a reflection on them!

And, if you really loved that job, and the manageress has apologised, why not just stick your nose in the air, hold your head high, and walk right back in! Show them you won't be beaten. I did that once, and I never regretted it. :)

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Thank you everyone for your kind and wise words. Today is another day now..... I doubt I will return, as the Manager woman was tetchy also. x

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Well, we all have our off-days. :)

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Hi there i know when we have to work we have to try and get on with a wide range of people from the damn right rude to the extremely arrogrant and god knows i should know working for the civil service in a court building and many times ive been spoken to in the most awful manner and had to give as good as i get!! But when you are working voluntary out the kindness of your heart i say "Sod them" im off- dont think about it anymore-2 finger salute to them. (Sorry administrators) youre worth more and there are plenty more of charitable organisations who would want you!! 😊😊😊

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I know now this morning I did the right thing for me. I'm now retired, & did not expect a challenging environment in a very well known charity shop; and it rekindled all the angst I got whilst working mainly in offices. I had to walk away from those working environments for my own sanity and of course suffered financially. It makes me wonder why I'm unable to stand up to those challenging personalities out in the big wide world. It also makes me wonder if it really is worth poking my head out of my door.

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From speaking to friends and acquaintances who have volunteered I think some places are much better than others and I think it would be worth looking around to find one where you feel happy. I know several people who have left because of the attitude of existing volunteers or one who left because she was stuck upstairs all on her own ironing clothes all morning.

I was very lucky when I started my first stint as a volunteer, our manageress was excellent but I got a full time job and she moved on and when I went back a couple of years later I only stayed for one day because I knew from things that were happening that I wouldn’t be able to work with her replacement. So I went from volunteering three days a week and running the place on the manageress’s day off and when she went on holiday, to only lasting a day with her replacement..

Volunteers are there for all sorts of reasons, from my experience some had learning difficulties, somehad psychiatric problems, some were there to get back into the workforce after having children, Some were just plain lonely, they were there for so many different reasons and you can’t tell by looking at them what they have going on in their lives.

If it’s a shop you want to work in, go round them all, more than once and on different days and see how happy the staff look, how they treat each other, talk to them, I chose my particular shop because it didn’t smell of old clothes (I know!!!!)

Actuality, I’ve just remembered I did a short stint with a local charity where I had to update their contacts register, I got in, dialled every phone number on the various lists that their advisers might be using, checked that the details we had were still applicable, if not alter them. There was another lady there who sat next to me, in silence, not even sure what she did but she never spoke. The two of us didn’t really meet the trained volunteers or the clients, I did that from 9.00-12.00 then went home having not really spoken to anyone else. It was no fun at all and I got to dread going.

Eventually after a couple of months I realised it just wasn’t for me, even though my efforts were greatly appreciated.

As you can see from the length of this - I need to be somewhere I can communicate with people and I really need to work in a happy, pleasant environment. So keep trying, there’s a job somewhere out there for you and good for you for not putting up with any grief 😉

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I think you did the right thing. Although your past experiences will affect how you deal with conflict, it doesn't mean you should have to. The manager was wrong to put you in that position. There are nice people out there and I think you should try and find a kinder environment. There is as much for you to gain from the right environment as you have give other people. I hope you find whatever is right for you

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Yiu have done the right thing- i dont give people my time who cant show respect for me, please dont think it is not worth going out- its good to mingle and i can tell that you are happy helping others, go after what you want and make yourself happy and dont let people speak to you disrespectfully, it does take courage and unfortunatley some people are uncomfortable with confrontation and biting back(not something i have a problem with-ha) but i think bunnyjeans idea of assertive training may help you, we do lots of training at work like assertive training and good complaint handling and dealing with difficult people and situations. You got nothing to loose.😊

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Please go online and teach yourself Assertive Training. I have naturally been able to do it.

Practice makes perfect and you will soon be able to stand up for yourself without running away. It might be hard for you at first but pluck up the courage and off you go.

Don't forget to be calm but firm it always help. I ask the question and repeat the question if no answer is forthcoming. i.e. Can you please explain to me (name of person) why you are always picking on me.

I hope this helps.

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I've bailed out of a few things where I felt no warmth or kinship - clubs, night classes etc. and a voluntary job is sort of similar... so I wouldn't be beating myself up about it at all.

When it's a paid job with a career path and you like the work it's worth persevering sometimes: I once worked with a team of real characters and many people found some of them completely intolerable as they had high IQ and probably low emotional intelligence, bless 'em. It was very useful that my boss sent me on a course of assertiveness training (he came on it too!) just so we could deal and I stuck it out and ended up really loving it... keeping calm, like you, was always best.

Generally, people who are bullying are socially awkward, belligerent blunderers and can't express themselves in a way that encourages or influences people and their own failings frustrate them, so basically it's not you that sets them off.

However, a bully can detect when they will go unchallenged and I think that may have been an issue.. It's not about fighting your corner aggressively, but holding up a mirror to their behaviour and saying, 'Can we talk about this another time, please. I have problems of my own too and a big headache and all I can hear is noise and I can't begin to help or understand you when you just seem to want to undermine me.'

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Two things jump out at me

i) The 'manager' of this place isn't worth the name. It is part of her role to nip sh*t like this in the bud. That she instead was antsy with you is woefully poor. Given the alacrity with which this odious reptile abused/criticised you, clearly he hasn't been censured when he's done this on previous occasions, with others. There is no doubt that he has, I trust you'll agree.

ii) He should be let go; why should volunteers have to suffer his misplaced wrath. It shouldn't be necessary for you to stand firm and suggest to him that he may find it unacceptable, were you to speak with him in the tone/manner he sees fit to speak with you. Tools such as this are in every walk of life. I don't care what disability he has, be it physical or mental and neither should you. We all have a perfectly reasonable expectation, most especially at the beginning of a new working relationship, to be treated respectfully and with kindness.

I'm so sorry that your worthy enterprise has ended up causing you upset. I think you did well, in the circumstances. Give him five minutes with me and he'd never, ever do this again, the @rse. :P

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Ha a woman similar to me!! No time for D---heads!! My dad always taught me to have balls.😊😊

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Love your reply Rapunzel .... The pathetic manager is a temp as the permanent is on long term sick leave...but due back this week. The temp manager is obviously panicking having had a new volunteer walk out mid shift. Turns out she's put up with this nerdy idiot with attitude despite his attitude towards her, but she has had to report him during her time in that shop. Following a fair number of long texts today, it seems the temp manager is doing everything possible to get me to return. I said I would wait for the permanent manager to return this week & have a chat with her. I've had sack loads of abuse and bad attitude, emotional, mental, physical & financial abuse from exes - walked away every time and never regretted it. I certainly won't hang around to receive it from a stranger :-) I really really admire and envy people who can stand their ground without walking away.... hey hum

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BUT - this episode has shown me that my health is excellent. My adrenals did go down a bit on Saturday evening & Sunday but I dosed up on various vitamins & minerals, went for a walk & sang !!

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I'm glad your health is good; probably why mine isn't so fab is because I'm a light the blue touch paper and I'll take your freaking head off...out of work. I really should get my cortisol levels checked...

Frock, Fogals and Ferragamos at the ready and there's a different ball game. I nonetheless admire your forbearance, Marigold :)

And BTW: if the manager of a charity shop gets hauled over coals for not meeting 'targets' the world's going to hell in a handcart and we're all doomed. That's a discredited and unhealthy corporate model gone a step too far, IMO.

Forge on, missus :D

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Yes, I've now realised from another reply that charity shop managers have targets.

Rapunzel - I used to be so so scary, when my son (now aged 35) was a teenager his friends were scared of me! I used to shout and scream in front of them, ranting on about teenagers and their behaviour.....

I'm the best I've been, possibly ever, and certainly since my teenage years. DIO2 problem, Hashi's. Currently eating high good fat... my brain actually works properly, can multi task, cook a meal without having to think how to do it despite years of doing it, not feeling suicidal. You must get bloods done & take your supplements. Try a week or two of eating double cream, full fat milk, avocados, nuts, any cheese, no carbohydrates at all, no sugar if at all possible. If you would like a copy of "my new diet" as recommended by my brilliant Homeopath, send me a PM.

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I think because this man upset you (father figure) it may have brought back unpleasant memories and as the woman was 'tetchy' maybe she was having a bad day and maybe didn't like how the male spoke to you. If you are a Manager you have to be able to 'manage' different situations and try to keep staff who they've said are reliable and quick to learn.

If you'd like to continue volunteering, you can either drop her a line and say you'd like to return but as you are not being paid for doing so you don't expect to be spoken to by other members of the staff as he spoke to you. Leave the ball in her court.

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A friend’s sister had a similar experience to you, and found the manageress of the charity shop where she volunteered was very pushy. She discovered from another volunteer that they are given targets every month, and if they fail to achieve them they get “hauled over the coals”. So maybe your manageress was being hassled from above?

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Yes very possibly. But she was also in a difficult position as she is a temp manager, dealing with an insecure nerd who is constantly criticising her and others. She has almost admitted today she should have told him to go but as she's only temp she has held back. I've worked out a way to deal with the insecure nerd now that I know he's had a warning..... take the piss!

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I also do voluntary work in a Charity shop and I think you should speak to the area Manager or the Manager. Iv'e just seen that he's had a warning which is good. It's in nobodys interest to have somebody with an attitude problem. The assertiveness training is a good idea. Iv'e often been bullied at work and often got annoyed with myself for not standing up for myself.

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Thanks. It's been sorted now. It turned out that the relief manager and the young man despise each other and I got caught up between them. I returned this Saturday, it was the assistant manager on duty and the young man was very polite and gentlemanly. They all know now though, that I won't tolerate Krap :-)

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