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How To Transcend Workplace Bullying
I have recently survived a workplace bully. He was the manager of a group of 7 people, myself included. This was a group of people who loved what they did, thoroughly enjoyed working with each other, and did phenomenal work for the company. This manager took over when a previous boss left. His first use of verbal abuse and humiliation on me personally began at a section meeting about a month or two later. Others in the group had already endured bullying by that point. Four months after he took over as manager, he had made victims of every one of us many times over. He even tried to pit us against each other. All 7 of us remain good friends to this day, and more -- we are fellow survivors.
My mistakes: I went to the bully, to human resources, and to this bully's manager, and I tried to work it out in a reasonable fashion. This does not work. Companies always side with the managers. No amount of on-the-job strategy works with these bullies either. I was twice-victimized by retaliation as a result of "doing the right thing". HR et al did nothing about that either.
Finally, after a year of torture, when I was going to bed sobbing and dry heaving and waking up doing the same, my spouse's words finally got through to me: "You have one and only one true power as an employee. Use your feet and get your life back, then watch this jerk destroy himself." I found another job and my career is advancing beautifully again! I am thoroughly enjoying the new and exciting work I'm doing.
I was the first to leave. Three more left within the next 3 months. That's 4 out of 7. That's when the truth became unavoidably clear to this man's managers. The company asked the bully to leave. He now works somewhere else at a serious demotion level.
What I should have done from the start, and what everyone should do:
1. Don't say anything at work -- don't put yourself at risk!
2. Tell your family and friends immediately. Tell them how and why you need their support. They love you; they will be there for you.
3. See the bully for what he/she is: an extremely insecure and inept control freak. They succeed when they make you scared; but if you see what they really are, you won't be scared anymore.
4. Look for your next job. Prepare for this by determining where you want to go in your career and why a new job will get you there. Nobody will be able to question this!
5. You will get that job. Trust me. It may take some time and there might be difficulties, but keep trying. This is where the support of your family and friends is critical, because they will give you strength and help you keep your sense of self-worth.
Here is why this works, and why it is the ONLY thing that will work:
1. The best talent often tries to resolve the problem and that doesn't work. You can't fix a bully and it is not your obligation to do so. It's the bully's and his/her employer's responsibility.
2. Being top talent is the very reason why you should simply walk. Recognize your quality and worth! You deserve better than this. When talent leaves, it hurts the company. That is the only way companies listen and get the message.
3. It reduces the opportunities for the bully to retaliate. It improves your chances to find another job.
4. Getting out as soon as you've realized you've got a bully prevents further damage to your emotional and physical well-being. The bully's actions seem far more harmless and feeble when you've empowered yourself to move on!
5. Your fellow talented colleagues will soon follow. Each person that transcends the bully and takes back their life gives that much more courage to those that remain.
6. All this culminates in the bully's self-destruction. Don't waste your energy trying to fix the bully. Save your energy for yourself and your family.
We will not only survive, we will transcend!