Doing battle with a bully is a little like wrestling. Wrestlers try to force each other out of a ring either by using superior strength or catching their opponent off guard. When targets confront workplace bullies, they shouldn’t use physical strength. But they can disarm a bully that is using intimidation—the bully’s strongest weapon—by catching the bully off guard with a positive mind set.
Nothing puzzles a bully more than a positive attitude on the part of his target. The bully is looking for a reaction. Imagine what happens when the target doesn’t react. Therefore, your challenge in taking on the bully is to act consistently positive. Your task is to react to every “blow” with a sense of detachment.
Leading in the “Ring”
Charlene was the new team leader for a manufacturing company. She had to learn about the company’s products quickly, and she was up to the task. Nancy, a peer and team member, however, displayed little confidence in Charlene. She verbally attacked Charlene, and criticized her leadership. She even sabotaged a sales campaign that was instituted shortly after the team came together.
When Charlene looked at her team during one Monday morning meeting, she saw she was losing them. She knew it was time to take on Nancy, the bully.
The weekend before Charlene put her plan into action, she “trained” by set aside some time for an attitude adjustment. She did things she liked to do. She took her children to the park on Saturday and took a long run that afternoon. She and her husband got a baby sitter and went out to a movie on Sunday night. Every time she thought of Nancy, she told herself she was enjoying himself now and would deal with Nancy on Monday morning.
Monday morning came and with it, the meeting that always started the week. This morning, however, was different.
Throughout the meeting, Charlene held the upper hand. Nancy saw she couldn’t shake her. Charlene maintained a relaxed posture and always responded positively. She didn’t show Nancy any enthusiasm, but she wasn’t rude either.
This wasn’t the end of Nancy’s bullying ways, however. Two days later Nancy came in “swinging” again. Charlene persisted. She continued to respond in a positive manner:
Most importantly, Charlene maintained her positive approach. Her face and body looked relaxed. Nancy and others saw it. Little by little, Nancy bullied less often. She never became an ally; occasionally, she still went on the attack.
But Charlene remained true to her mission. Like the victorious wrestler, her opponent could not force her out of the ring. Charlene had learned the advantages of a positive approach.
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Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to http://www.BullyFreeAtWork.com
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