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Workplace Bullying (8) - Damage to Self Image

When you are bullied to the point where you stop believing in yourself, the bully has probably achieved his/her goal.   It is true, though, that for most bullies, the effect on the victim is a side issue, it is all about personal power.

I have recently finished a novel called The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.   One of the central themes is that we carry the damage from our youth into old age.  Once our self image is unstable, the process to rebuild confidence in ourselves and our abilities, is intense.

The reality of low self esteem impacts every area of life.      When it hits you in your skills and abilities, day to day effectiveness is a challenge, let alone applying for promotions.

There is no "one size fits all" answer, and it really does require courage and commitment.   If it is financially viable, therapy is a key part of rebuilding self image.   If it isn't, there are steps that somebody who is being victimised can take.   However, it is a reality that people in management often do not have the skill set to deal with entrenched bullying, and victims might be seen as wasting management's time.

One of the most effective methods is to document the bullying behaviour.   I believe the following method can help put the matter into perspective, as well as indicate a plan of action:

  • Define a time frame for documenting the bullying
  • Commence documenting the behaviour, in writing, with dates, times, and facts
  • If appropriate, enlist a colleague to do so as well
  • At the end of the period, sit down and read carefully through the documentation
  • Ask a friend, mentor or trusted person in your private life to read through it, and give an honest assessment
  • Should you decide that the behaviour is extreme enough that it is causing a serious drop in your confidence and ability to function in the workplace, set up a meeting with the relevant management to discuss your concerns
During my years in management, I have seen that documenting in this way has very positive results.   In some cases the victim realises that the behaviour is not specific to him/her.   It is a confidence issue, and the person who feels victimised needs to work on building up the confidence to react more assertively.   In other cases, the documentation has underpinned that the bully's behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be addressed directly, either by management or the victim.   Management are able to evaluate the problem from the documentation, and take constructive steps.

Do ask for help quickly if you are feeling dis-empowered and ineffective at work.    A company culture that builds a positive, motivated and empowered workforce has to be in everybody's best interests.  


Links and References

Accsys Website



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