Taking on Bullies at Work
Are you ready to do battle with the bully who has turned your dream of a peaceful workplace into a nightmare? We’re not suggesting a physical battle, of course. But we know that at some point, targets decide they have taken all the mistreatment they can. They are ready to stand up for themselves.
Many warriors, in the business world as well as on the battlefield, find it helpful to do mental preparation. So, consider the following as a class on “Taking on Bullies at Work.”
Lesson 1: Expect the worst from bullies at work. You’re likely to face a nasty struggle. Bullies have honed their skills from many encounters. You’ll have a learning curve, as you discover how to fight a bully’s tactics. Expect:
- The battle might be a long one. Bullies in the workplace don’t give in easily. They know that both their job and their self-esteem are at stake.
- A bully changes tactics to keep his targets off-guard. For example, if the bully gives up easily, don’t trust what you see. She may be preparing to attack from a new direction.
- You will make mistakes. This is new ground for you, and you won’t do it right every time. Expect to make mistakes, forgive yourself, and persist.
Lesson 2: Expect the worst from yourself. When you challenge bullies at work, you are stepping onto their ground. That’s bound to make you unsure of yourself. Expect:
- You may lose perspective. IF you’re not nice or cordial, you may feel guilty and lose your momentum. Remember, the bully is targeting you. You must protect yourself each and every moment.
- You may feel like you’re in this struggle alone and may resent your co-workers’ lack of support. Understand that they may be too busy protecting themselves to help you.
- You may find this struggle harder than you thought. Expect to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Again, this is new territory for you, and there is a lot to learn. But it’s worth it to keep on task.
Lesson 3: You can win the war without winning every battle. The “war” is for your self-respect. By standing up to a bully, you have stood up for your own rights. That act will make a difference in your life, whether or not you choose to remain at your job. Here’s what you can expect:
- You’ll be a better judge of friends, co-workers and employees. In addition, your enhanced self-respect may help you set limits as you interact with others in the workplace.
- You’ll be better able to assess future workplace situations. Ultimately you may choose to leave your present job and look for a new one. When you do, you’ll go in with your eyes open to expectations and interrelationships you weren’t aware of before.
Taking on a bully is “no walk in the park,”–it’s both a challenge and an opportunity. Know what to expect before you begin, and you stand a better chance of achieving your goals at less personal cost. Remember, you are worth it.
Valerie Cade, Founder
Bully Free at Work