Bullying is unacceptable anywhere. Im seeing more often with clients and these clients consist of middle, and senior management as well as junior workers.

Bullying in the workplace can start with small put downs or criticisms. Rather than challenging what is being said often those being bullied start blaming thelmselves. This self-analysis is quite defeating as you focus on a problem which may not even be yours. So here are some simple examples of how to stop criticism and nasty remarks.

How to Handle Nasty Remarks

  1. If a colleague says to you, “Do you really think you are capable of presenting?” Reply, “I didn’t hear that, can you say it again?” And often they won’t because they won’t like you standing up to them.
  2. But if they do, simply say, “Tell me, what do you mean by that?”
  3. Or, if someone says, “I saw you lead the team meeting the other week, perhaps you should think twice about doing it again.” Reply with, “Why are you telling me that, are you trying to hurt my feelings. I’m not going to let that in.” And don’t.
  4. Or if a work colleague remarks, “How did youget the manager’s job?” Reply with “I don’t understand why you are telling me that. Can you explain to me why you are saying that?” 

Nine times out of ten they will stop in their tracks.

Try it, and notice how good you feel dealing with the criticism there and then. It puts the onus back on the bully to try to explain. And no bully likes that.

There Can be a Pattern of Being Bullied.

Some who have come to me as a result of bullying have disclosed they have been bullied in the past. And they are concerned that this is a pattern in both their work and home life.

Early on in life, we photograph experiences and store them in our subconscious mind. Our mind puts meanings on these experiences, good or bad. To do this we use our representational systems, i.e. visual, auditory, feelings, taste and smell. Then we relive those when we are triggered, by a certain smell, or a certain behaviour, etc. For me seeing a certain wine label reminds me of a University field trip and the fun we had. And when I see that label, that feeling of joy comes flooding back.

But for some, these triggers/reminders are not so positive. A common trait for clients is they have stored experiences from the past, where they have formed a belief they believe to be true. But it may not be, or it may no longer be true. And they are living/operating from that belief.

For e.g.you may have had a teacher that told you were ‘rubbish’ at math. But the reality was the teacher was bad. But that younger you, without having the necessary emotional intelligence to know what was really happening then, stored a belief about being rubbish at math. That younger you decided the meaning of the situation (‘ I’m rubbish at math’, opposed to ‘if we had a better teacher, math would be easy’). Then you lived from that. So when it came to University you may have discounted anything with math because you were ‘rubbish’ at it.

How we choose to interpret something has a major impact on our lives.

So if someone is saying something like “You really shouldn’t be presenting.” Nip it in the bud straight away. Don’t focus on it. Say, “Thank you for sharing that. I’m not going to let that in.”And don’t. Remember you get to choose whether it is true or not, not them.

So What Types of People Bully?

  • People, who hurt, are hurt people. Criticising is a way to elevate oneself by diminishing others. Knowing critical people reserve the most criticism for themselves can aid us in handling them better. We can see them for who and what they really are, and then knowing this is about them, and not you.
  • People that are not confident in their jobs or themselvescan be bullies. They will harass people to get stuff done, by way of constant emails, and unreasonable timelines. Because of their own uncertainty they start to pressure those around them. By asking for a plan, tasks, timelines, and agreeing as to how you are going to communicate enables a much more transparent relationship.

By letting the bully know you have cottoned on to their ways, you can instantly put a stop to it.

E.g. I had to socialise with a particular person. I always felt uncomfortable in her presence yet I didn’t recognise why. Then I realised her light teasing(or banter) were constant put-downs. Then one warm summers evening before it started to sizzle, after the third jibe of the evening, looking up I held her gaze and said nothing. Mentally I was saying ‘I am recognising what you are doing and I will not tolerate it’. I was putting a mirror up to her behaviour.

I’ve hardly seen her since. When I do, she is very polite.

It’s all too easy to let friends or co-workers get away with comments that intimidate or diminish you in some way. Don’t let casual criticism undermine your work and home life. And don’t leave it until you have to get help for stress related issues.

Use the simple techniques above to, ‘Nip it in the bud’.