You can’t be seen crying at work. The consequences for something like that are far-reaching. Imagine the new boss hearing about it, you tell yourself. That helps, the tears calm, but you’re still shaken.
What just happened?
For so many, this is a daily event. I hear it a lot with my clients.
“There’s this one guy in sales who makes me want to scream…”
“My boss wasn’t being mean, I know that underneath her false accusations, she was just giving me a chance to do better.”
“My project manager said that I’m an idiot. I didn’t know what to say back without getting into trouble, so I just kept quiet.”
It’s called bullying. From the blatant and grandiose (“She said I’m an idiot”) to the subtle and sinister (“He just wants me to perform at a high level”), I’ve seen it all.
And I hate to think that you’ve experienced it, but the numbers don’t lie – for every 3 people reading this post, there’s 1 who has been bullied by a colleague, manager, or worse, a client.
So, what do you do? How do you deal with this?
Step-by-step articles on this subject are all over the place. Google ‘workplace bully’ and you’ll get thousands of hits in return: how to handle the bully, what a manager’s role is, how HR should proceed with caution while getting involved. I even saw a few articles on how to fire a bullying client from your roster.
For my purposes, though, I want to start with a simple paradigm shift.
I invite you to ask yourself one question:
What do you want to say to the bully?
Careful, here. This isn’t about what you should say. Or what you’ve said to your friends. Or what your spouse thinks you should do.
Just close your eyes, go deep inside, find that place within that really moves you – you know, that gut-space. Then ask yourself, what do you want to say to the bully?
And then, get quiet.
There will be things to hear and understand that you may not like, at first. Keep listening. There may be internal thoughts about what to do. Keep listening. Listen until you hear the words you want to say to the bully.
For me, the words were, “Stop it.”
So simple. So powerful. So pure.
My quiet response was formed. I knew what I wanted to say.
Now, imagine this scenario with me: my bully begins bothering me – telling me my work isn’t valued, that I’m not doing enough, that he doesn’t care about the reasons, he just wants to know why I’m so… lackluster. He’s using emotional manipulation to try to draw out those tears he’s gotten in the past.
I do nothing – no anger, no response, just a curious look on my face. He pauses in the middle of a tirade and turns to check and make sure he’s got me.
And I respond simply, quietly: “Stop it.”
He laughs and starts his diatribe again.
I say nothing and continue breathing in and out, just observing him.
He’s gaining momentum, pushing ever harder.
“Stop it,” I interrupt him.
He’s taken aback now, losing steam.
“Stop it.” I say a final time. Then, “I deserve respect.”
He blusters, throws papers, says he’s only interested in getting a ‘quality contribution’ from me.
I raise an eyebrow. “Stop it.” And I go back to my desk.
This surprising exchange gave me the strength to continue using what I wanted to say to him. I was able to repeat this phrase to him many times over. And the more I used it, the more I was able to recreate my powerful stance.
You may not find power or usefulness from my ‘anti-bully’ phrase. But this isn’t a story about a phrase. And, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not a step-by-step.
It’s an invitation.
I invite you to see the solution within. You are your best ally. You have so much to offer yourself. You need only listen – in that gut-space that really moves you.
However you choose to combat the workplace bully, choose to avoid feeling guilty for “making waves.” Hold true to your strength and confidence as a capable working professional who deserves the same level of respect that all other employees enjoy. Refuse to accept guilt or responsibility for the inappropriate actions of others and stand tall as you demand better with class, grace, and dignity.
The belief that opened doors for me? Discovering I could serve others through making the right requests. The request itself became a vehicle for personal transformation. I became more courageous and more confident.
“I signed up with Annette's Irresistible Request Program because of her impressive record of success in coaching, but what is truly inspiring is her passion for helping women gain confidence. She is completely committed to your success. I never thought I was someone who lacked confidence, but launching a new business brought up lots of insecurities. Annette's coaching was invaluable for helping me launch my business with confidence, clarify my priorities and minimize my fears."
– Christina Caudill