Bullied at Work? Don't Look For Advice, It Rarely Works

We've all heard the horror stories about bullies, mostly from our kids.  But adults can be big bullies, too, and what do you do when there's one in your workplace?

I was bullied by a manager for several miserable months when I spoke up to his boss and asked for more work because I was bored, and was afraid I wasn't doing enough.  The fragile ego came down hard on me, and from that point on, I was picked to get the donuts for meetings, never called on in those same meetings, and was not invited to department social events.

I survived but I never forgot this man.  Bullies die hard in our lives. But unfortunately, they're everywhere.

So, should you take advice from someone who has been bullied? Get over it.  Move on.  Don't get mad, get even.  Not very satisfying.

Now a new study is saying, forget the advice.  It generally doesn't work, according to newswise.com.

The reason is simple.  People looking for a rational response to what may be a highly irrational experience is probably not going to solve the problem.  And bystanders’ and advice-givers’ inclination to lead individuals to believe they are singlehandedly responsible for stopping a bully may only frustrate and anger you, and make you feel even more out of control.

While study authors acknowledge that the dilemmas and paradoxes associated with following advice related to workplace bullying are increasingly well-known, they note that the advice organizations receive to address bullying creates even more challenges as it “illustrated the constraints placed on attempts to operate more imaginatively and expressively within formal organizational boundaries.”

Study participants generally reported favorable views toward the advice they received from supervisors, co-workers, friends or family, or other resources, but also intense frustration when the advice was unrealistic, unhelpful, or downplayed their emotions and experience – which the authors say is problematic.

Ultimately, researchers argue that conventional advice is rarely sufficient to stop workplace bullying, especially as it fails to recognize the emotional nature of the experience and the need for a collective rather than individual response.

So what do you do if you're bullied?  Take some deep breaths and leave the workplace for a little while.  It won't end the bullying but it will help you get a clearer mind -- and see that the bully is really only hurting himself.  Who wants to walk around, hated by others, anyway? 


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