When I first started working in Corporate America (Yes, that’s a real place), I was so shocked at the amount of bullies walking around. Remember that feeling when you thought you were going to have a fight afterschool. The fear. Being on the edge of panic. Well there are people who are experts at causing those emotions in you in corporate spaces. They don’t’ steal your lunch money, but they do take your promotion. They don’t push you down, but they do belittle you and make you feel small. I met a few bullies, men and women, White and Black, young and old and every time they tried to play me, I called the only person in the world who would unapologetically have my back and develop a plan of counter attack so that her baby would not be pushed around. In honor of Mother’s Day season, here are some tactics my mom gave me when the bullies came to the yard – the corporate yard.
- Ask them to Repeat Themselves: When someone says something so crazy to you that you have to do a double-take, ask them to repeat themselves. Act like you didn’t hear them the first time. And then when they say it again, pick up your phone, turn on your recorder, turn it in their direction and ask them to repeat it again. At a minimum, they will think twice about saying crazy things to you. And if they are bold enough to repeat themselves on the record, you have something valuable to put on file.
- Write Everything Down and Keep a Bully Notebook: I wrote down all of the ways a person was bullying me and then scheduled a meeting to go over them. I asked how any of his actions had to do with our work. He saw my notes with dates and specifics and proceeded to whine about how he thought I didn’t like him. He turned himself around and directed his bullying elsewhere. Bullies don’t like to be exposed.
- Speak in a Whisper When You are Defending Yourself: There’s something about a whispering angry person that is quite scary. When you lower your voice and let a bully calmly know that you are not the one, it takes the emotion out of the matter and puts the matter squarely on the table for dissection. Also, when a bully sees how calm you are, they get confused and unsure if you have an ally or a plan that may take them out.
These tactics are about taking your power back. You deserve to be comfortable while you’re giving all of your precious hours to the enterprise. Let’s continue the conversation. What tactics are working for you to curb bullies and predators in the workplace? #MeToo #NeverAgain #workplacebullies