Speaking up to workplace bullies

Bullying is sadly very prevalent in the news these days.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories on forums across the web of people who feel intimidated by a manager, co-worker, or sometimes HR.

As an Ombudsman, I’ve worked with persons who felt bullied and managers/employees who had bullying behaviors.  My stance is that bullies can’t be tolerated but they shouldn’t be demonized either.  Most of the bullies I worked with in the corporate arena weren’t evil.

They were flawed. They never learned how to get their needs met in a good way; weren’t self-aware and probably shouldn’t have been made managers.  (A lot of managers get to be managers because they are good at their job, not because they have people skills or even want to manage.)

It starts with you

Like with most people problems, the solution starts with you.  Bullies can make you feel powerless but you always have control over your thoughts, actions and emotions (even though that’s hard sometimes).  Your first step is to take care of you!  Remind yourself you don’t deserve this treatment.

Next, decide to take some action.  That’s important to your self-esteem.  If you won’t stand up for yourself, who will?  Doesn’t have to be a big confrontation.  You can find small ways to tell the person that you don’t respond to that treatment.  Will they care? Maybe not, but you will know you spoke up for yourself-that’s huge.

One strategy that’s really helpful (especially if there person doesn’t care about you) is to help him or her see that their behavior defeats THEIR purpose.  Work doesn’t get done the way they want or when they want because of them. Just about everyone listens to WIIFM radio. (what’s-in-it-for-me!)

I was bullied as a child and my mom favored the ‘kill them with kindness’  strategy.  I hear a lot of folks suggesting that on the forums.  It’s an workable solution.

Trouble is, it’s not sustainable over the long run.  You’re using your energy to maintain a lie day after day. Not good.  I’ve seen people crack under the weight of ‘holding it in’, damaging their health.  Not worth it.  It’s healthier to find a coping mechanism you feel comfortable with using.

Try talking

Try to have a meaningful conversation with the person.  Sounds like an oxymoron- how can a conversation be meaningful with someone who bullies?  Yet, you can.  You can make an observation as a way of starting the conversation, something like:

‘Have you noticed that…’ or ‘Did you know that…’ then fill in the blanks with what troubles you, the impact it has on you and how it impacts that person  getting what he or she wants.

It’s not easy…

It’s by no means easy to deal with a work bully.  You know that if you or someone you know is being bullied.  I also want you to know that you’re not alone or powerless.  You can slowly develop your people skills and confidence to set the situation right.

I’m happy to help you think about it during my Retreat on March 16  You’ll have the time, safe space and expert guidance to get unstuck, look for solutions and take inspired action. (You’ll want to register soon as there’s limited seating)

One last thought to leave you with…

You yourself, more than anyone else in the universe, deserve your love and affection. ~ Buddha

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