I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I let everyone in the workplace, my boss, my peers, even my employees, bully me. I back down from every skirmish. Everyone tells me “I’m the best,” but then instead of treating me that way, they take advantage of me. When I hear those words, I cringe. I know they mean “you’re gullible” and “I’m about to manipulate you.” I’m working on Memorial Day weekend, while everyone else is off fishing and camping.
In the past, I’ve looked for a new job when I finally decide I’ve had enough, but that’s getting old. How does a person turn around a lifetime of giving in, putting others’ needs first and being bullied? Is it best to quit and start over at a new workplace with a new resolve?
Most of us give ground to bullies and manipulators now and again. Different people or situations intimidate us. We fall for the occasional con. When it happens repeatedly, it normally means others bullied and “played” you from childhood, leading you to discount your own rights when pressured.
You can quit your current job and start over; however, you need to start over inside yourself first. This begins with deciding what’s right, because from that perspective you’ll know what you need to hold firm to the next time someone tries to push you around. This may be hard if you fear that setting boundaries could jeopardize your work relationships; however, they’re already in trouble, and while you can’t run from your past, you can change your future.
Recently, I helped a client establish her “bill of rights,” focused on the areas where she felt others pushed her around. You might try this as well, as it is core to your learning how to train others how you want to be treated. Here’s what she created:
1. I treat others with respect and I deserve to be treated with respect.
2. I have the right to my own point of view and to express my opinions.
3. I have the right to judge my own behavior, thoughts and feelings.
4. I have the right to be successful.
Once you’ve made your list, decide what each right means you need to do. For example, No. 1 means you have the right to say, “I don’t allow that,” when someone treats you poorly.
Your next step? Put your rights into reality by acting on them. As you do so, you may find your instinctive reaction pulling you back into doormat compliance or other unwanted behavior. Don’t.
© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.