Any Advice On How To Bully Proof Myself?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a past of being bullied:

I will be starting a new job, and it seems in every job I’ve had since I turned 30, I have been bullied by female and male co-workers alike. Everything running the gamut from gossip, assault, getting fired, and I want to prevent this from happening at my new job. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

Signed, New Job Bully-Proofed

Dear New Job Bully-Proofed:

Starting a new job almost always is an adventure and its uncertainties can make those first few weeks stressful. You say you have been bullied in past jobs; gossip, assault, and being fired. Of course from here, we cannot know what prompted what you briefly describe as bullying, but I’m sure that you could recreate the circumstances that might have IF you take the time to reflect on the what, who, when, where, and whys that precipitated each bullying episode.

Undoubtedly you have worried yourself before finally falling asleep about them, but the important question is what have you learned; learned about yourself as victim and/or possibly unintentionally as an aggressor, learned about who bullied over you –what and when, and learned about the culture of the work environments you were in??? Doing such a self-appraisal and possibly soliciting answers to those what, who, when, where and why questions will be of much more help than we might be from a distance.If you look for advice about how to come across as likeable rather than as a victim, it is out there.

For example, Unique Opportunities site has good advice: Seven Habits of Highly Likeable People So I’ll not repeat that kind of advice. Rather let me point you to The Bully Bulletin, a site dedicated to prevention and coping with bullying:

You do not say anything that would make you a victim, but possibly, you were bullied for reasons that fall under the law: “Hostile work environment claims are a form of federal workplace harassment violations that fall under the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was further amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. Each state also generally has its own statutory scheme for workplace harassment.” You can read more about that on this site and about coping in and with a hostile work environment. Or if you come across at one extreme as annoyingly obnoxiously aggressive or as the other as a doormat that invites others to clean their feet, you might need a personal coach.

Our Archive is full of advice about dealing with bad bosses and troubling co-workers. Type in the word “bullying” in our Archive Search and you will find dozens of Q&As, such as Verbal Bullying To Make Me Cry Or Quit

Workplace Doctor Tina Lewis Rowe has a wealth of advice for those who need to reflect on how they come across. One recent piece on this topic, “Is Your Spirit Simmering?” is worth your time as are many of her other essays: For example she suggests that we each look at co-workers and especially our selves as we might monitor a pot on a stove: “Keep your spirit on simmer most of the time and boiling when it needs to be. You will present yourself to others in a way that is most likely to inspire confidence and admiration. You will also be able to sustain your energy and enthusiasm in a positive way.”

After you check out these resources and do a self-analysis, please spell out what you learn. Then do keep us posted. My last piece of advice is take care not to impugn malicious motives to those whom you see as bullies; instead see them as intending good. See how that works for you. My signature advice is summed up in Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

Follow Up: Thank you for your prompt reply. I think my experiences had more to do with the type of environment than how I came across. For the most part the instigators or ring leaders are the only people I have a problem with. I get along and always have with other co-workers and management. I usually get bullied by the same personality types. Insecure, self-absorbed, lazy, incompetent, personality types. They virtually zero in on me almost since day one.

They usually have been working there for quite sometime as well and even though they hold lower positions they seem to think they are part owner or management.Almost all of them thrive on office gossip. They usually attribute to me the malicious intents even though I went in thinking good of everyone. They almost always try to isolate me by feeding me negative stories of everyone even though they exhibit those very same bad qualities they are gossiping about.

I will visit the sites you suggested and I will definitely keep an open mind as to how I am coming across. I started out at one job keeping to myself and when the alarms started sounding off I made it a point to talk to everyone and learned I wasn’t the first and only target. I don’t see how bullies manage to keep their jobs. If I were a boss I would make a ZERO tolerance policy. Best regards,

P.S. I’ll also keep you posted on how my new job is coming along. Thanks again! Two-Days Later: I will definitely keep in touch. I checked out the sites and I’m really glad that you lead me to them. The more I read on the subject, the further I am able to detach myself from the experiences and not take it so personally, but then again I still feel angry so I’m not really sure if that is even possible to not take it personally and be angry at the same time. I am still working on seeing my role in all of this. I know that is part of being a responsible person and sometimes it is hard to accept that we are less than how we like to believe we are viewed by others or think we truly are. I just got home to an offer letter I’ve been waiting for and I’m thrilled at the prospect of starting this new job. I have been looking since December, so you can just imagine my joy. It is also the job I initially had wanted and I’m so glad that nothing else panned out for me! I might have missed this great opportunity! Best regards,

William Gorden