Workplace Bullying: Avoiding The Trigger Trap When Handling Workplace Bullying

Avoiding The Trigger Trap When Handling Workplace Bullying

Do you start defending yourself at work when you are confronted abrasive or snarky comments? Do you find that it usually makes the situation worse? Then you may be falling into a trigger trap.

What’s a trigger trap? Triggers are all those unnecessary negative barbs communicated to you, often in email, but also in conversation. They often look like gossip, judgment, contempt, criticism, attacks on your reputation, or straight up insults. You know these attacks aren’t true, and you want to respond. But, what if your response won’t help you? What if responding and defending yourself makes things worse? There’s the trap. These barbs are meant to manipulate you into a reaction.

But guess what? You have a choice. that choice is to respond to the attacks OR NOT! That may seem like manipulating and maybe it is, I don’t know. What I do know is that if you attack in response, you are making things worse for yourself.

Here’s my suggestion: Instead of responding to the attack, focus on the business points being made. Ignore the attack entirely. Pretend it’s not there. Seriously. Think about it.
YOU can take charge of the communication by NOT reacting to the attack.

This may not protect you from further barbs but it will certainly help you to feel better. And in some cases the attacks subside. In other cases the person attacking is a “classic bully” and won’t stop ,and in other cases the person is unaware of their snarky comments so won’t understand if you complain about them.

One of my clients is learning how to avoid the triggers her boss is so good at putting into emails. In so doing she has become stronger and more self-confident. She sees the triggers now and vents with me rather than in writing. Recently she said she feels “victorious” because she has control over herself, even if she cannot control the unconscious abrasive behavior that comes from her boss.

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For over 20 years, my work has been bringing individualized solutions to individual targets of workplace abrasive and bullying behavior, as well as working with companies to stop 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.