managing the office bully (or bullies!)

we’ve all had to deal with bullies in life. back in my school girl days i was a bit of a mean girl queen bee myself (one of my nicknames was actually mean colleen). i THINK and HOPE i was fundamentally kind and didn’t prey upon the weak. yet i can specifically remember teaming up with the other alpha chicks and mocking/picking on others.

as a middle child and the only girl with 2 brothers it was important to me to stand out, be tough, be the best (at school, sports, & extra curricular activities) while still being perceived as “a cool kid.” have i evolved since then and developed more empathy, compassion and self-awareness, effacement and esteem? it’s all relative. somedays yes, somedays no. in some contexts with some people yes. with others, at other times, not so much.

however one thing IS certain: over the past dozen years in corporate america, being young and being a woman in workplaces ruled by “the boys club,” i’ve developed a more acute craving for justice and intolerance for bullying. the behaviors i’ve seen not only accepted as “normal” but even rewarded (and consequently perpetuated) are just so lame. i am mystified by people who don’t evolve as individuals and who remain locked in the same patterns of insecurity for decades. what a waste of life’s potential.

It’s never easy to deal with office bullies. They are often in positions of power so you have to tread lightly. The first step is to recognize bullying behavior when it’s happening.

– Repetitive verbal abuse
– Micromanagement
– Any activity that repeatedly demeans you or is discourteous.

Whenever you’re dissed, you’re dealing with a bully. Sometimes it’s inadvertent, sometimes it’s not. Bullies don’t recognize their impoliteness and they don’t apologize. They often sail through their careers unwittingly wreaking emotional havoc on others. What can you do? This article has some practical tips. For me? It starts by getting my head on straight. If you walk around in life with a victim mindset, you are more likely to become a target.

Secondly, I remove myself from the fray. Rather than actively offer myself up for abuse and drama, I try my best to steer clear and engage with douchey bullies as little as possible. Of course, this can significantly limit one’s career opportunities. To advance you often have to go straight into the eye of the bullying vortex. So if my hand is forced, I summon my old mean Colleen ways and play the Alpha game right back. Ultimately I’d like to create a business environment for myself and those around me that is positive, successful, and respectful … a place where bullies do not rule the roost and are routed out rather than rewarded. “Be the change!” as the saying goes … one girl’s humble dream.

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