Building a Tool Box for Victims of Workplace Bullying

Are victim/targets really always powerless?

According to leading researchers Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik and  Sarah J Tracy “…Prior research typically characterizes targeted workers as powerless, as the term target might suggest. However, Lutgen-Sandvik (2006), Cowan (2009a), and Meares et al. (2004) all suggest that targeted workers resist bullying in many ingenious ways. These studies demonstrate the social processes involved in resistance as well as the forms of resistance most likely to result in providing relief from abuse. Taken together we see that communication scholars reconsider and critique the notion of the “powerless” target that heretofore has dominated workplace bullying research…”

Share What Worked For You!

Here are some of the things that worked for me — feel free to add your own:

  • Building alliances with people – be careful not to try to turn them into a psychologist.  The goal is for your co-workers to recognize that you are the sane one.
  • Staying positive & continuing to move forward – ok this is a tough one but every little bit helps.  And, again, it helps your co-workers support you if they see you as a team player who’s being screwed over.  It also helps undermine the “it’s just a personality conflict” argument that often comes with the bullying territory.
  • Try not to overwhelm your loved ones – they are often powerless to help you and if your livelihood is the mainstay for the household it will only create stress at home.  It’s hard to stay positive at work if you’ve depressed the heck out of the family.
  • Try to find ways to relax.  Force yourself to stop ruminating over and over about what happened at work today and instead try to visualize calmer images.  They may be fleeting at first but they are there.
  • When you’re out with friends for a relaxing dinner try to resist the urge to talk about your boss — even if they press you about it.  “I really don’t want to talk about that — it will only bring me down” is a pretty universal phrase that’s easily understood by dinner companions.  After all, they’re not really looking forward to a bummer evening either.
  • Listening to the radio on the way to work.  Listening to iTunes at work. Listening to the radio when I was finally able to go home again.  When I found myself enjoying Frank Sinatra I knew I’d hit rock bottom — but Ole Blue Eyes really did help me get through those tough days.  My secretary and I used to play “Jaws” when opening emails from my boss.
  • Keeping your eyes on the prize.  You’re hanging in there because you either need the job or love the job.  Figure out ways to stay engaged in things you like that your boss isn’t really interested in.  I was excluded from team tasks so I looked outside to find places I could use my talents to work with people outside the group.
  • DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.  I have tons of emails I sent myself that outline everything I went through.  It worked for me when I met with a lawyer who needed to know what happened when — there it all was complete with date stamps.
  • Checking the want ads can be comforting or depressing so this one is at your own discretion.
  • EAT
  • See you Doctor to discuss your health and how you relate to stress and the best options for you.

NOTE: ** Don’t rely on Internet or newspaper solutions or assume that they will apply to your situation – all too often these are geared to selling books and self-help DVDs.  Seek solutions with one-on-one counselors who can address your specific situation and needs.

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