Dealing with Workplace Bullying: Can Being a “Workplace Star” Help You Avoid Bullying?

Dealing with Workplace Bullying: Can Being a “Workplace Star” Help You Avoid Bullying?

Do you know how to deal with a bully? Do you think that hunkering down and working harder is going to help you?

If you think so, then think again. Being a better employee will not help you avoid the wrath of a Classic Workplace Bully. Classic Bullies targets a person relentlessly until the person quits or goes out on leave. And then the bully picks another target.

Workplace Bullies Target You for Your Competence

Sometimes I just want to scream when I read bad advice about how to handle workplace bullying. And sometimes I want to cheer when I read some research that supports what I know to be true. This is one of those cheer days, because now I have evidence to support my point of view that some targets of workplace bullying are targeted because they are experts.

The Workplace Bullying Institute just released some findings that indicate that most people are targeted by workplace bullies because they are good at what they do. They have technical expertise that seems to threaten the bully. Perhaps they are new to the department and have strong credentials. Perhaps they have been around for awhile and the boss is new. Whatever the particulars, it’s a good bet that some targets are being targeted precisely because of their expertise, not because they aren’t good enough or confident enough.

So, it’s a Catch 22.

If you are being targeted for being good at your job, what do you do? Should you do better or back off? If you excel, then you’re increasing the threat on the boss or coworker targeting you. If you stop producing, then you’re going to get busted (and feel bad about yourself).

Don’t Expect a The Bullying to Stop From Your Increased Efforts

I suggest you not compromise your career or your expertise, but I also suggest that you do not expect your boss or coworker to be respectful or grateful or appreciative. If he or she is really a classic bully, then you’re in for it no matter what you do. So, maintain your integrity but don’t expect a good outcome.

Classic bullying is not reasoned or reasonable behavior. Working harder, being more confident, or producing more results won’t protect you. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you will be able to shift your perspective and start helping yourself. And I do mean helping yourself.

Finding Another Way

Are you looking for other ways to handle conflict and bullying behavior in your workplace? You are not alone, and many other “workplace stars” feel exactly the same way you do.

For more tips on workplace conflict and bullying behaviors, exclusive content, and detailed reports, sign up for my free report on “Costs of Conflict.”

I’ve been a strategic consultant on workplace conflict to executives worldwide for more than 20 years. My work brings individualized solutions to your teams’ lost productivity, loss of key personnel, low morale, and the high costs resulting from bullying, abrasive behaviors and interpersonal workplace conflicts. You can contact me here.

I’m Kathleen Bartle, Conflict Consultant.