Targets of Workplace Bullying: How Did You React?

Targets of Workplace Bullying: How Did You React?

Have you ever felt bullied at work? If so, what were your first thoughts? “Why me?”
“What did I do?” Maybe even, “Oh, no! Not again.”

Have you ever witnessed workplace bullying? Did you try and separate yourself from that target by staying away from them, or maybe try to figure out what about that person was different and would make her or him an easy target for the bullying behavior?

Can We Control the Bullying?

The most common responses to bullying is to blame the target rather than assess the behavior of the aggressor. We blame ourselves and we blame the target in order to feel we have some control over the situation. We think: if we can find a way to behave that will stop the aggression, then we won’t be next in line for an attack.

But, the truth is, targets cannot behave in a way that will stop the bullying. It isn’t possible. True workplace bullying behavior is deliberate and calculated. Abrasive behaviors, by contrast, are more random and manageable, and can be managed and tamed. But bullying? It is just like domestic violence. It cannot be managed. You cannot shrink down into a tiny speck and therefore avoid the attack. You cannot. No matter what you think is possible, no matter how you hope to the contrary, you are not in charge of the bullying behavior.

What are the Options?

Well, if your employer has a policy prohibiting bullying behavior, or even has a policy about workplace safety, you may have some support from Human Resources. If you do choose to report the behavior, I’ve outlined some guidelines in a previous blog to help you make your case in way that is more likely to be effective in your situation. Even so, there is no guarantee that they will be able to resolve the issue.

If you cannot fix the situation or move past it, then document everything, and seek help from someone who can support you while you develop your exit strategy.

That’s the best news I can give you. It’s not your fault and move on!

I’m Kathleen Bartle, 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.

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  • David Smith

    Excessive bullying at work can certainly be unhelpful when trying to maintain an efficient, happy workplace. How do you deal with bullying? if you wish to take our survey and learn the results

  • Hi David, thanks for posting your workplace survey on my blog site. I hope you get the info you need.