Dealing With Office Bullies? Here’s How To Stand Up For Yourself At Work

Just because you work with these people for eight hours a day doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily the people you’d choose to be friends with, if you had the option. But just because you might occasionally feel like a doormat doesn’t mean that you have to be treated like a doormat. Standing up for yourself at work is difficult, but it’s the only way for others to realize that you’re a young professional and deserve some respect.

When you were younger, you were always celebrated for being different and thinking outside the box, but today it seems as if all of your ideas are shut down seconds after you suggest them. You feel bullied, which is a feeling you thought you had escaped once you reached adulthood. Not only can this lead to an awkward work environment, but it’ll lead to a pretty bruised ego.

Here are some tips on how to handle the bullying and stand up for yourself without jeopardizing your job — since, let’s face it, you need the paycheck.

Analyze your method of communication. Perhaps you’re coming off as a little too defensive to begin with, which can happen naturally if you’re expecting negativity. Are you delivering your message with a mean tone? Or maybe you’re just not being too clear in the first place. It might feel goofy, but try smiling before you talk, and make sure you don’t display any kind of uneasiness when expressing your thoughts and opinions. 

Dress the part. It’s true that you should dress for the job you want. Even if you’re at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, make sure to look like a CEO when you walk through the doors at 8 AM. Not only will it boost your confidence, but it’s a subtle way to express to others that you’re serious about the job.

Be honest with your feelings. If you feel like someone is talking down to you, kindly tell them that their unnecessary commentary came off as being hurtful. By addressing it immediately, you won’t allow these hurt feelings to bottle up. Something simple like, “Hey Coworker X, that comment kind of hurt my feelings a little bit. It’s okay if you don’t like my idea, but that read more as a personal attack” should firmly let them know that you won’t stand for cattiness. Hopefully it was just a miscommunication.

Don’t egg them on. Just like childhood bullies, adult bullies are taunting you because they’re looking for a reaction. They pretty much feed on the chance to completely break your spirit. Adding fuel to the fire means that they’ve won the debate, so your goal should be to shut it down before it escalates into a full-on war. The last thing you want is to be gossiped about throughout the building because you lost your cool.

Do the research. Whether it be work-related or something you say around the water cooler, make sure you’re well informed regarding the information you’re spouting out. If you’re about to do a presentation at a meeting, be prepared with plenty of examples about why your method is the right one. If you’re discussing last night’s episode of Survivor, make sure you’ve actually watched the episode first. Just make sure you’re credible. If you’re known for speaking without thinking, or without doing the research, people will eventually tune out.

Listen. You want people to listen to you, and they probably will if you give them the same respect. Even if you don’t agree with what they say, give them the proper chance to communicate.

Stop playing the role of the victim. If you keep viewing yourself as the victim, you’ll continue to act like one. Choose an upcoming Monday to change your whole perspective around, and see how differently your work week plays out. This change of attitude will definitely help boost your confidence.

Learn the power of “No.” It’s important to be flexible at work and help out your coworkers, but if you feel like everyone is using your kindness as an excuse to dump their menial tasks on you, you’ll never be able to get your own work done. If you don’t have time to take on more tasks, let your coworkers know. Don’t be taken advantage of. Regardless of what you think, being absolutely honest about time management and your workload won’t get you fired.

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