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Handling Workplace Bullying and Stress: What Will You Do?

By Valerie Cade CSP

When one experiences the despair, confusion and challenge of workplace bullying, we will behave in a number of ways – some of them are conscious and some of them are unconscious.  Peace comes from the ability to feel a sense of perceived control over one’s circumstances and existence.  Just know it is our ability to make conscious choices that can allow you feeling more in control, and thus find the peace you are seeking.

To protect oneself during a workplace bullying situation, people tend to act in these ways:

  • Change – having the awareness and strength and resources to attempt a change in how the bully behaves (intervention) or how you react/respond.
  • Leave – Proactively deciding to separate yourself physically, emotionally and mentally from the bully.
  • Accept – Accepting the bully as a person with limitations in the way you need to interact, and realize you’ve let go of the need to try and change their behavior.  You’ve also let go of behaviors you do to try and change the bully’s behavior i.e. “If I sat here…”, “if I came early…”, “If I….”
  • Cope – You’ve decided you cannot leave, so you make a conscious decision to minimize your interactions with the bully and to develop your strength for when you do have to interact.
  • Escape – Finding something that takes you away from dealing with the issue at hand, that gives you the illusion of ‘I need to be here rather than facing the workplace bullying situation head-on’.

Here’s how ‘escaping’ works.  See if any of these are happening to you:

  1. Denying:  The best thing you can do is to admit what you are experiencing.  You cannot cure what you do not admit to.  Naming it “bullying” gets you back in the game.
  2. Delusion:  The next best thing you can do is to accept the bully will not change; so put a stop to the delusion that if you “try harder” things will turn around.
  3. Ignoring:  You “feel” things are not going well and you may not be sure of what to do, so you “get busy” doing other things, or you “zone out” or withdraw from the situation and pretty soon life itself.
  4. Excuses:  “I know the situation at work isn’t going well, but Phil’s retiring in 4 years…”  We delay protecting ourselves and taking action, because that appears to take more effort.

Why Do People Escape?

  • It’s difficult to see someone in a poor light; we tend and hope for people to change so we can avoid the possible conflict and uncomfortableness of setting boundaries.
  • Without a plan of assurance and peace (which you will not get with the bully), it seems easier in the short run to keep “putting things off”.

What To Do:

  1. It’s Not What You Think, It’s What You Admit/Know: Our mind, the ability to admit where we are at, and our current reality is 100% in our control.  Betraying what our mind, body and spirit are saying to us is a sure self-esteem destroyer.
  2. Values Win Over Needs Every Time: Make a list of your values and rate how you are living them on a scale of 1 – 5.  What could make something a 5?  When we fail to live to our values, this is a true destroyer of self-esteem and a sense of control.  You will gain strength here by making a few changes in a positive direction in order to help you handle your workplace bullying situation.
  3. Go Through Things, Not Around Them: Keep seeking, asking and building yourself and your self esteem.  It is a daily reconciliation.  What do you need to face? decide? do? let go of?
  4. And finally, a prayer that has traveled the world over:

“God, grant me the serenity to

Accept the things I cannot change

Change the things I can, and the

Wisdom to know the difference”.

Let’s take one step closer to be as conscious as we can to accept, change and grow in wisdom … and with this decision you’ve been given 100% control.

Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of “Bully Free at Work:  What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!” which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide.  For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to

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2 Responses to “Handling Workplace Bullying and Stress: What Will You Do?”

  1. teacher's aide Says:
    November 25th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Hi, just wondering if there’s any one out there in Australia who has been bullied in a Catholic school. I’m an integration aide and on 1.6.2011 I commenced work at a catholic school in Melb. (Still too scared to say who they are. I’ve been subjected to psycological bullying for approx 3 months. I have 12 years exp in this field, however at this school I had to learn a lot of admin also. I did learn everything associated with my job, but some bitches were jealous. They had it good with the boss (Ed. Support teachers, Ed. support co-ordinator, and that stemmed to the campus director and the principal. I went to docs got work cover, however when I rang union for advise I was completely insulted “WHY should you get paid for not working?” was one of the comments from a union rep I paid $250.00 for 6 mths to join. There were a few more insulting comments so this arsehole convinced me to go against my doctor’s advise and went back to work. This rep told me that I will not receive any payments. I want back and copped more bullying. I left work Thurs last week and went back to the docs. Doc gave me another two weeks on workcover. I’m a single parent of two for 11 yrs. I was told by workcover themselves that I will not receive payments if the case is not approved. I would’ve been employed for 6 mths on 1/12/2011. I went back on Wed 23.11.11. I noticed that it was too good to be true that no one had picked on me. I noticed that the office I occupied was very “lonely”(This is the usual syncronised arrangement before I am to be severley bullied.) This moring I recieved an email from the principal’s secretery that I was to meet with him at 12.30pm. was not told as to what the nature of this would be. Well i thought, I the past my superiors have lied about what actually happened in meeting they had with me in the past, so I thought “What do I have to loose, I’ll record it on my mob. The arswipe of as principal pretty much told me that he heard that I was unhappy and that there have been a few staff that have complained about my conduct and performance. I swear the teachers I’ve worked with have given me such positive feedback that I did not think that they had grounds to even consider going through with this. Today the principal said that He will follow “Due course” to have me dismissed. This is so wrong. I have learnt all the aspects involved with my position. I hate the bitches who have taken this job away from me for nothing. I just wish I could speak to someone elso going through the same thing. Any advise would be appreciated.

  2. Henri Says:
    August 28th, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    my name is Stephanie Schubert, and my struggle with bulynilg was as real as it gets. it all started for me in middle school when girls would gang up on me for unknown reasons and call me fat, make fun of me and never leave me alone. it never stopped until i moved onto high school. My freshman year was great, i didnt have too many problems, was pretty much on good terms with everyone, and had a few really good friends. But sophmore year took a turn for the worse and the mean girls started to come out once again. i thought to myself, I can handle this, ive done it before i can do it again. but i dont think i was ready for the bulynilg that was to come. It started out with rude comments in the hallways, or during class and then grew rapidly into death threats and physical threats. i belonged to a website called Formspring where you can ask people anonymous questions. instead of questions i was getting told to kill myself, that i was ugly, fat, and annoying. at first i brushed it off knowing of course that girls will be girls and i should just ignore it. ignoring it didnt help and quickly girls started coming up to me at school threatening to beat me up and one of the girls actually brought video cameras to tape the fight. my life was turning into a living hell all because these girls knew they could control it. the problems got so bad that i became really depressed. i would come home everyday from school balling my eyes out. me and my parents went to the principal and vice principal who did absolutley nothing and eventually to the police who wanted to help but couldnt. because the problems got so bad i switched schools. my problems havent followed me and im doing really well academically and i have great friends. you never know when somebody is going to bully you, and most of the time you probably wont know how to handle it. dont let yourself think you deserve it, or that its okay. nobody deserves to be treated like thier worthless. stand up to the the mean girls , tel somebody about what is happening and dont let them bring you down.