What Not to Do with an Office Bully by Cleon "CJ" Joseph


So you are a responsible adult, going to work in an office with people you do not know.  I mean, you know them as your workmates, but it goes none further.  You are just trying to do your job as best you can, and go home but you now have an office bully in your place of employment.  You've tried being nice.  You've tried befriending the person.  You may have told the person to stop the bullying and you are now ready to explode.  Stop!  If you were thinking about retaliating allow me to show you the pitfalls of exacting your personal revenge.  Here are three urges we all may want to put in effect and why they rarely work:

Returning Insults...

Yes, the office bully has been zinging you in front of your co-workers for months, but like me, you may not be as skilled or polished as the bully at 'playing the dozens.'  You hurl your built up comeback and you end up in trouble.  Why?  You are the one that came out of character and the attention is now on you in a negative light.  Here is why you'll lose this battle in a professional setting most of the time:

  • Two wrongs don't make a right
  • Bullies are pros at what they do, and you are not
  • Your workmates are immune, entertained or numb with fear to the bullies action, not yours
  • Many bullies may have no shame, insults will make it worse
  • Bullies are not always cowards, some can back up the talk
  • If Murphy's Laws rules the day, you'll be the one unemployed

Rallying the Troops

So you are the person everyone goes to complain about the bully.  People seem to look to you as a savior.  You end up taking the cause of the weak and weary.  You help develop a game plan for everyone to rise up at the right moment and the following happens...

  • When it is time to rise, you rose by yourself
  • Co-workers will turn on you at the last minute leaving you out to dry with the bully and the boss
  • Co-workers will change their story to stay in the status quo if they sense the revolt is not going well
  • You may end up the problem, not the solution

Physical Altercations

Like returning insults, but at a much higher level of danger, the bully has confronted you for the last time, in your mind.  This time he or she gets in your face and prods you into a fight.   You've seen this person cause others to cower but you have had enough.  You take the bully up on the challenge and "get it cracking!"  I share this experience in my book entitled, Navigating Through the Valleys of Success - A Perspective in the Thick of it.  Your ego may be satisfied in the short term but there points to think about:

  • Losing your job over one idiot
  • The bully can turn the story around.  Bullies are pros, you are not
  • Your co-workers may not stand with you, even though you provided temporary relief for them.  Remember fear, and status quo is a hell of a toxin
  • Win or lose, a bully will always resurface given the opportunity.  This is not grade-school where this act may cause an attitude adjustment.  The adult learning curve is more resiliently defiant than a child
  • The bully may just respect you, but no one else.  When you are not there everyone suffers
  • The bully already knows your weakness, he or she spent time researching your faults.  The reality is that bullies harass because they know they can
  • It may not end as you envisioned it. What good are you to your family injured or unemployed?

So what do you do? Take it to HR!

Guys, the answer is easier than you think, and that is going to your Human Resources Department (HR), especially if your boss refuses to act.  The difficult part is the vetting process of your actions, meaning anytime you bring a problem to HR or your boss there is an uncomfortable stage initially: the investigation.  Be prepared to accept that HR has to check out your story.  This can be frustrating for a moment but it is a necessary evil.  While you are waiting for the process to unfold here are the benefits when you take this action.

  • Everyone is on notice
  • The bully's livelihood is tangibly threatened, bullies have to eat too
  • Investigations are, for the most part, confidential and co-workers can be compelled to share their own experience along with what they observed on your behalf with the office bully
  • It documents the activity in case it has to go to civil suit, and no employer with common sense wants the headache of a lawsuit
  • It is a great time for your boss and HR to go over protections against hostile work environments policies

Many times we are so afraid to go to HR because of fear, and sometimes our ego.  We don't want to admit that we are scared, and we don't want to be looked at as weak for reaching out to higher sources.  Nobody wants to be labeled a snitch but we don't live under "hood rules" in office settings. I want you all to forget about what people think, especially at work.  These people are not your family.  They don't carry the burden and stress home like you do with yours.  I'm writing this because I've done it the wrong way and have also been able to turn it around and do it the right way.  Now as a supervisor at work and a CEO of a business, I've been on the forefront of preventative measures in regards to hostile work environments.  HR is one of my strongest resources when office conflicts do not subside with my actions alone.  Don't handle this by yourself, and don't let your ego or pride rule the day.  Get it off your chest and on to your bosses back asap.  I've seen it work.  Yes, there are some cases where there is retaliation, but many victims of this are now millionaires.




Click on photo to Purchase CJ's new book on Amazon!

Click on photo to Purchase CJ's new book on Amazon!

I Love You to Death

Years ago, a potential client walked into my office wanting personal training.  When he walked in I felt like I’ve met him before but could not figure out where.  He introduced himself and told me that I gave him a business card two years prior at a wellness seminar I was involved in.  He told me he could not afford a trainer.  He recalled me telling him that time was infinite and when it was time for us to train I’d be there for him.  I immediately remembered him then and my spirit celebrated the day’s encounter.


In the beginning of our meeting his motives seemed as sincere as when we first met.  He desperately needed to lose weight and his doctor advised him that if he did not change his unhealthy life style life he would not be on this planet much longer.  He even brought his best friend with him so he could save money and share the journey with him.  The consultation was going great.  I gave them both a full assessment and showed the steps that they needed to make to reach a healthier status and they appeared to be receiving the information well.  I even gave them a rate that I haven’t given since my early days as a trainer out of compassion.  All of a sudden, I needed to take a quick potty break.  When I was in the restroom I don’t think they knew how thin the walls were in my gym.  I could hear the friend telling my potential client, “Man this CJ is a joke! If you listen to me, we can do this our selves.  You are wasting your time here bro.  You know I got your back!”  When I came out of the bathroom I pretended that I did not here a thing.  I knew where this was headed so I accepted this as another learning experience.


When I walked back into the office I could sense a bit of hesitation that wasn’t there earlier.  The man that was ready to change his life was now ready to walk out of the door.  He said to me, “CJ I just need more time to think about this. I’ll definitely get back to you.”  Of course, I know what that meant.  On top of that the friend that he brought looked back at me and smirked.  Staying true to my personal values of not chasing clients I allowed them to freely walk out of my gym.   


Approximately two weeks later, I received a call from the same man.  He told me that he wanted to come in and meet again.  When we met, he apologized for the previous meeting and told me about his friend’s suggestion in the earlier meeting.  I asked him how his workouts were going with his friend and he said, “CJ the only thing we’ve been working out on is lifting donuts into out mouths at the local shop. CJ, I’m serious this time I’m ready to start now.” We continued our meeting; he was so excited that he wanted his wife to join him in our program.  I gave him a moment to call her.  I could hear a female voice yelling from the man’s cell phone.  When he got off the phone he had the most defeated look on his face.  He told me that his wife loved him fat and she did not want him to lose weight.  I so was perplexed that I had to get the truth out of him.  He told me that his wife has tried numerous weight loss surgeries that have not worked.  She does not want to do any physical activity and does not want him losing more weight than her.  I don’t meddle in marriages but I had to tell him how wrong that mode of thinking was.  I had to express how dangerous it was for him to listen to that toxic logic.  Here is a man that a doctor has ordered to live healthier or die suddenly and he is about to leave to satisfy his wife’s disturbing suggestion.  He apologized to me and told me that he would come back at another time.  I haven’t seen him since.


I applaud people that can turn their own lives around and I want that for all people, but when someone makes a clear choice to come to a fitness trainer they realize that at their current state in life they cannot motivate themselves and need an external source to help change.  This man loved his wife and his friend so much that he wanted to include them in his desire to get healthier for life.  His wife and his friend loved him so much that they wanted him to stay the same and potentially die with them.  They may never say it or mean it, but that is exactly what is happening.  I’m really hoping that this man is taking the appropriate steps in changing his life for the better, but from what I’ve experienced I can only pray.   


Prayer Alone Can’t Get You Healthy

Prayer Alone Can’t Get You Healthy


In the last few years of hard work honing in my craft, I have finally reached a mini-milestone after 12-years in business.  I am no longer a sideshow or the back up speaker at an event or speaking engagement.  I think back to my first speaking engagement.  It was at a church that was invited to.


Although the pastor knew I was invited he kept forgetting my name during the introduction.  I remember him getting so frustrated, he shrugged his shoulder and said, "Hey uh, fella… just do your thing.  By the way, your 45-minute presentation is cut to 5 min. Dr. “Such and Such” needs to speak, so he can get to his next engagement.” 


I could have let my ego get the best of me and just walked out but I didn't.  I swallowed my pride, left my power point in it’s case and gave them the best 5 minutes of my life.  When it was over they requested that I come every year.   Each year they remembered me a little more until finally, I was a main draw, instead of an under card.


A few months ago I presented for the third time at that church.   It felt good to know that I would have my full time with know interruptions.   This time, “Dr. Such and Such” would have to wait for me.  Once the respect issue was cleared, my eyes were open to a whole different issue.


As usual I arrive early for the church "heath breakfast.  We'd begin with prayer and then it was time to dig in before presentations.  The first part of the food table looked perfect; oatmeal, fruit and brand cereals.  As I moved down it got worse; pork bacon, pork chops, butter grits, white toast, fake orange juice, preserved fruit, sausage and pancakes with plenty of syrup and butter to go around.


At that time I was dealing with a sick father and older brother, both now deceased, suffering from preventable diseases.  With that also on my mind I got extremely upset.  I sat at a table with some familiar faces from the previous year and asked what changes they made since last years visit.

The responses were,  “Lord knows I’ve tried,”  “I’ve been praying about it,” and “I’ve been meaning to get on it.”  The comment that really set me off was,  “CJ, just keep us in your prayers.”


I then looked around the room and notice no physical change in anyone in the crowd.  On top of that the deacon that invited me looked frustrated that I did not finish my death plate.  He murmured, “Uh, CJ.  In my day we finished our plates!”  As he said that the tables around me nodded their heads in agreement.  I had enough.


I demanded to speak immediately.  I originally had this fun presentation that was supposed to entertain, but like every year I had to toss it.  What that church got was five minutes of a stern lecture from the angry trainer.  Instead of the usual message of hope and positivity, I simply spent a few minutes explaining how each one of them will die if their habits continue.  This time there was no standing ovation. You could almost hear a pin drop.


When I was done, I left the podium.  Like “Randy Watson.” I put the microphone down and started to walk out.  The deacon followed me.  I felt horrible and did not know what would come out of his mouth.  He put his kind hand on my should and said, "Well Mr. CJ you have our word when you come back next year you will see a change."


I think of all the tap dancing I did in the past had minimal results.  The thing that seemed to work the most was absolute directness.  From that point on, my message has been even sharper. 


A few months later, I saw one of the members of the church.  She looked a lot healthier than when I saw her last.  She walked up to me and said, “CJ, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you come back to present.  We realize prayer alone can’t make us healthy.”  That is what I call hope.


I am so sick and tired of our communities being labeled as the most susceptible to every disease known to man.  I am more disgusted with our ability to laugh in the face of educational information that will change your lives for the better.  What is even worse; we are doing nothing so God can do something.  That is not how God works


The churches are just one example there are plenty more. The excuses and empty prayers, without action stops today, because prayer alone can’t get you healthy.


You don’t have to be a fighter to feel like one.  So let’s train!


What Y'all Laughin' At?


Hey guys, I know a lot of you made that resolution to change your life for 2016. The problem is, for some of you, this is your first attempt of trying to lose weight ever.  This first article of the New Year provides you with a realistic approach when you take you first step to fitness.  I hope this helps you go in boldly.  Laugh at my pain, but be encouraged!

Years ago, before I became enlightened to Functional Fitness, I used to be a 230-pound bodybuilder type.  I was so massive I could not scratch the middle of my back.  I was not out of shape in terms of obesity but you could have classified me in the same boat.  My cardio was horrible and although I was strong as an ox I moved like a sloth.

One day, I went to an amateur boxing event for city employees. The fighters that competed that night were absolutely horrible.  It was almost like they went to a bar, had a few beers and decided to lace up the gloves and slug it out in front of thousands of people.  While watching in the audience I looked at my work buddies and said, “I’m no boxer, but I know I can kick their butts!” One of my workmates happened to be a former world champion kick boxer named the Blue Dragon.

Now the Dragon also had some professional boxing experience.  He gave me the most cynical smirk that severely challenged my ego.   It was like he was quietly trying to tell me that those, so called, bumbling fools in the ring were at a skill level much higher than mine.  I got the felling he knew something that I needed to know so for weeks I begged him to train me in boxing so I can enter a similar amateur competition in a few months.  Finally, after nagging him to death, he told me that he would train me.  He took me to a boxing gym in the valley and immediately put me to work.

I remember taking off my shirt at the gym so all in the gym could see my masculinity.  My trainer warned me not to but I really wanted to start off with a good impression, and that I did.  As soon as I removed my shirt, the guys in the gym casually glance at me like a pack of curious alpha male lions waiting to see what the new cat in the pride was all about.  The Dragon handed me a jump rope to begin my training.  I grabbed it immediately because I could not wait to show these guys what I’m about. There was only one problem…

Before I continue, I’d like for all of you to go back in time with me.  I was about 6 years old and bored to death sitting in the 3rd pew of my old church.  My Pastor, Reverend Warren. was just getting ready to preach.  Before he got started he wanted to invite a guest pianist to play for the choir.  The pianist name just so happened to be the same as mine.  I did not even think to listen for the last name.  I said to myself, “I had no idea the Reverend knew I could play the piano!”  The sad thing was I did not know either.  I figured that I’d just run up to the piano and God would take care of the rest.

As I saw the choir rise to their feet I also saw a man in my peripheral vision stand up behind me, but I figured he was headed to the restroom.  I ran up to the front of the church wondering why my older brother tried to pull me back.  I shook him loose and got to the piano and started banging away.  I noticed no one was singing and the church was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  I looked back to my family and they all were hiding their faces.  I played a little more with the same result.  I looked at the choir and yelled, “Sign damn it! Sing!  I looked back at my family and they were now under the pews.  I continued to bang away until the man that I thought was going to the restroom tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Get off!”  As I got off the piano all I could see was my sister’s finger raised from underneath the pew beckoning me back to my seat.  I heard the snickers of all the kids in the church.  I was so embarrassed that I cried all the way through service and all the way home.

Ok, back to the future...

Within 30 seconds of jump roping my calves were killing me.  I was exhausted and my shoulders ached immensely.  Even worse, when I tried to hit the heavy bag I fell over myself repeatedly from missing it.

I heard the snickers and laughs of the real lions in the gym as if they knew I belonged with the hyenas.  After one round of hitting the bag I was completely exhausted and all I heard was laughter around the gym.  I made it a point after that, not to quit, but to slowly stop the laughter.  I did a tour of numerous boxing gyms and tried everything over and over again until the laughter eventually turned into respect.

They say perception differs from everyone.  Initially I thought these guys were laughing at me because they though I was a joke.  If I had quit and never came back that probably would have been the case.  After getting to know some of the boxers I realized most were laughing because they all had been where I’d been.  Now let’s be honest; there were a few people that were laughing because they were just plain cruel; but they don’t matter.

I know it can be difficult to start on a program to lose weight.  I know how hard it is going into a gym for the first time wondering what people think about you.  First you have to assert that what your reasons for getting healthier have absolutely nothing to do with them.

You have to base your program on what your end goal is.  You really have no idea what people are thinking of you so you have to train yourself to stop worrying about it.  Allow me to share a secret on how you should approach life when you are ready to change your life for the better. 

I want you to imagine the worst-case scenario in your head. When your thought gets to it’s absolute worst inhale as deep as you can and hold it for a few seconds.  Then I want you to exhale and cleanse your self with more realistic thought.  Verbally tell yourself as you breath out what can’t happen.

Assure yourself that no one, of sound mind, will physically kick you out of a gym because you are out of shape.  No trainer, worth his or her salt, will turn you down because you are overweight.  No one halfway normal will physically harm you in a workout environment for trying to change your life.  No one will impede you from going for a walk to lower your heart rate. Start there and begin to grow stronger in your next steps.

To my readers, I am in support of you so much that I’m willing to share two of my most embarrassing yet funny stories to get you on your path to wellness.  “What y’all laughin’ at?”

You don’t have to be a fighter to feel like one! So let’strain!


For more on CJ and programs or to request CJ speaking engagements go to www.cjffla.com or call 1.424.456.7306 or email cj.functional@gmail.com

or follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @Cjfunctional.

Mamma Don't Want You Grievin'

Photo by somchaij/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by somchaij/iStock / Getty Images

Mama Don’t Want You Grievin’..

She Wants You to Thrive!

Trust me when I say it is extremely tough losing a loved one and walking around not being able to give that person a hug or even talk to them.  Grief is a process that we all will deal with at some time in life.   Some people are able to pick up the pieces and move on in due time. For others, it shut their life down to where they cannot be productive for themselves or anyone else. Depression, weight-gain, and poor food choices are the tangible and intangible crutches we run to when it comes to grief. I hope this article helps someone.

A while ago, I was training a client who had been dealing with a gravely ill mother.  There were countless days of missed sessions, some days were for trips to the emergency room and others were from depression and grief in preparation for the inevitable.

There was one period of time in particular when I did not see her for a month.  I was pretty much ready to write her off my client list when she called and told me that she realized that she needed to get back to her training regardless of her circumstance.  I was very proud of the decision she made.  When she came back for her first return session, I had to ask her what brought her back.  She told me that her dying mother told her too.  While the client continued to explain, her voice faded out as I immediately flashed back to my mother.

My mother has done so much for me in my lifetime.  One of the things she made me understand was the natural process of death.  My mother never grieved when family members or close friends died, especially if the member knew God.  She was also known to skip a few funerals because she did not see the point of it and If she did go it would have to be festive not sad. 

She made it clear that our role in life was to keep moving and be productive in life.  In her mind prolonged grief was a form of selfishness.  In other words you cannot share your gift when you are in a long-term state of depression.  She would even joke with us and say when I’m gone just put me in a pine box and move on.  

Her words became painfully real when she became ill.  Her sickness took hold of her so quickly that it took her strength and her voice.  I would visit her in the hospital and her only way of communicating was pen and paper.  Each time I would bring my grief to the hospital she would write things like, keep God in your life, take care of your family and love your wife.  She would make me read the bible to her.  Not for her, but for me.  She also gave me new insight as to who in my life will make life better for me and who I keep at arms distance.  When she told me why, I was not prepared for it.   

The closer it got to her departure date, the more she would tell me how ready she was to depart and be with God, but most important she wanted to make sure that I focused on what was important and not to worry about her.  She even made it clear to me that she did not want to be recessitated.

On November 15, 2006, the day after my birthday, Margie Louise Booker Joseph died.  I ran to the hospital to console my dad.  When I got there I saw the most horrific sight.  It was nothing like TV.  My mom was laid out on a table like a piece of meat.  She was half nude and disheveled.  There was no prep work done to her body to make her look decent.  I could not believe the staff at the facility let me see this.  I had every intention of turning the hospital upside down for the lack of respect.  In my anger I remembered what my mother explained to me about death and how when the soul leaves the body the body is nothing and the soul is with the lord.

I immediately prepped her as best I could before other family members came in.  For some reason I did not feel the need to cry at all at that time.  I took a week of from work and business, I went to the funeral and my brother and I made sure it was festive.  My pastor did an excellent job of that also because I hate “fried chicken” funerals.  Afterwards, you know what I did to honor her…  I moved on. 

The truth is my mother right now is not thinking of anyone walking the earth now because God’s love and beauty is too awesome.  Yes, she is in the deserving hands of God.   So what is there to grieve for?  I've only visited her grave once, felt great but what is the point she is not there.  I miss her dearly, but I understand the process and I also understand what she left in me.

As I came out of my flash state, I could hear the client once again.  I felt like I could finish her sentence because her mother was telling her what mine told me.  I was later informed that her mother had passed away from her illness.  I knew that she learned the lesson her mother taught her because she returned to the gym to resume her training so her own legacy can continue.   I recently walked the same path with my father who has now passed also.  An incredible man and who, unlike my mother, passed peacefully. Taking care of him gave me a more celebratory look a death.

Grief is a part of life but you cannot let it consume you. The reason is because you are still living.  There is nothing that our past loved ones can do for us but be in the past.  Keep them in your memory, let the good that they instilled in you bring a smile to your face and continue the fight of your life!  Don’t stop living, keep your body fit so you can impart to others.  Be well!      

You don’t have to be a fighter to feel like one! So let’s train!


For more on CJ and programs or to request CJ speaking engagements go to www.cjffla.com or call 1.424.456.7306 or email cj.functional@gmail.com


Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @Cjfunctional