Workplace Bullying: Hard Times Make Defending Harder

Here is a brief case study of the impact of our current economic circumstances on our perspective and therefore our confidence.


Just this past week I received 2 ’emergency’ calls and 2 inquiries from people who were having trouble with office bullies. The callers were struggling because things seem different now.

They said, in the past they tolerated an office bully situation because they believed they had an escape value: taking another job. But NOW they felt totally trapped because ‘there are no jobs out there’. Feeling trapped removed whatever coping mechanisms they had in place.


1. Become aware of the source of your feelings. In this case the shift from the ability to change jobs to feeling trapped.

2. Evaluate your options.

My guidance included reviewing options by using my Confidence Connections Perspective Wheel. Very quickly 8-10 viable options emerged. Everything from continuing to do nothing to quitting or retiring to filing a complaint or holding a public confrontation or doing absolutely nothing for 48 hours was on the table. This may seem obvious in retrospect but, when one feels trapped, oh boy, watch out, things get dark very quickly. Within one session more options than they had ever considered suddenly became possibilities.


Once the callers could see the plethora of options, we could get down to work to develop a uniquely crafted response to the situation using a set of questions to help focus thoughts and actions. Each caller answered the 5 important questions to using my Confidence Connections Focus Tool focus their actions. Each took action and within 48 hours and each situation showed some improvement. For some callers the path to slaying the bully is a long one of introspection and action but what I know to be true is that once a path is chosen, action happens and positive change takes place.


What was learned? Waiting until we’re trapped before we learn how to respond to a difficult situation is the hard way to live. Once we feel trapped we lose our power and have a hard time uncovering our options. Talking through the situation with a professional coach can open up more opportunities and options. Once we manage the fear and focus attention on a well-conceived action plan, it is completely possible to take charge of the situation and win the day. Likely the bullies will still behave like bullies but the targets will behave differently with their new skills.