Bully-Proof Yourself. Another Fresh Perspective By Patrick Maina.


Bully-Proof Yourself.  Another Fresh Perspective      By Patrick Maina

Article Commentary by ABC

ABC would like to Welcome back  Patrick Maina, guest author, who is presenting his second Fresh Perspective article “Bully-Proof Yourself”.     Patrick’s articles are presented in a unique energetic style with a contagious enthusiasm which is both entertaining and informative.  These are must read articles which shouldn’t be missed.   Don’t miss his premiere article, “Life After Workplace Mobbing, A Fresh Perspective” published in Jan. 2009.  See author’s bio at the end of his premiere article.   In photo on the right,  Patrick says – “Boooo!” to all the big bad bullies out there, while trying on a much larger and more intimidatng body while on vacation.

(( Boooo! ))

(( Boooo! ))

Bully-Proof Yourself.  Another Fresh Perspective.  By Patrick Maina

I am no longer a victim of bullying.

Bullies / Office mobs no longer intimidate me. Whoever said knowledge is power wasn’t kidding!

Let me share with you some practical bully-proofing techniques that really work! No more pep talks or theories – these techniques, if used consistently, will free you from bullies and mobs PERMANENTLY.

The mistake most decent people make is to accept their role as victim. They find it hard to believe that other people can have evil objectives. The seeming lack of a reason (what did I do to you to deserve this? You barely know me!) makes it more painful to cope.

The other mistake we make is to over estimate the power and influence of bullies – simply because of what they say or do. Your bully is most probably not as powerful as you think!

Another mistake is to overestimate the value and importance of keeping your job in your company. Do you really believe that only one company can hire you? Did the company do you a favor by hiring you – or was it a mutually beneficial arrangement where they pay you in exchange for your talent?

As long as you fear getting fired you will have a weakness that bullies can exploit. You need to be aware of your value to your organization – and deliver tangible, documented results to prove your worth.

Take charge of your personal finances to remove dependency on your job.

Most importantly: Understand the labor laws of your country. Understand your company’s Employee policy manual. Know the legitimate grounds for dismissal (usually very explicitly stated) and ensure you never do anything that would provide such grounds. Also know your company’s grievance procedure.

Every move you make to counter bullies must be well informed, legal, and within company policies. This either guarantees your job security or increases chances of hefty legal damages in case of unfair dismissal.

Know that good things are not easy to get. High returns come with high risk. Hence you have to be ready to walk away to a new life or follow through to the end if you are dismissed (court case and all subsequent appeals if necessary, media/public support etc).

OK. Now lets start!

Mobbing is not a new phenomenon. Even animals do it. Take birds for example. .they will mob any perceived predator encroaching their nests or babies or injured mate etc. Since the victim is usually bigger/stronger, the birds use psychological harassment techniques to confuse and make it less appealing for the predator to move forward (noise/chaos, vomiting/defecating on the predator etc)

Now… humans… unlike bullies (who just enjoy what they do), most mobbers perceive the target as a means of achieving a certain self-preservation objective – e.g. “better him than me”. Just like the birds.

Given this understanding of bullies and mob behavior, it is possible to devise counter measures that turn you into the HUNTER rather than the HUNTED.

Lets go back to the birds example: clever hunters have devised tactics that take advantage of mobbing behavior to draw birds into a trap. Google it.

Here are tactics that I have used successfully. Be sure to combine them all as they are not mutually exclusive:

1. Take charge. Become totally unpredictable. Change your behavior frequently. At will. unexpectedly. one minute very friendly, the next very cold. Friendly with x, cold with y. Ignore some attacks, respond to some jokingly, respond to others seriously. Mix responses – one minute you brush it off – then after the person is disarmed, you raise the subject to him/her separately and say you wanna discuss behavior x, which occurred at date-time x, formally as an issue that is disrupting work. Note down his response and follow up by email to document the incident – including date/time and place.

This starts a guessing game. They try to figure you out .. to understand what you are up to.

When “mobbers” hold “conditioning conversations” indirectly targeting you (i.e. you are supposed to overhear and feel hurt/frightened etc). Simply walk off beyond range of hearing. Or wear headphones and focus on your work – totally ignoring them. Make them know that they have just been ignored big-time.

Suppose they try to chat you up – just say you are busy and can you talk later? Be extra nice and smiling…

If they send an emissiarry – to plant some rumor or veiled threat or misinformation cut him/her off mid sentence (soon as you notice whats happening), say you are busy, ask the person to write you an email so that you can look at it later and walk away. Repeat as often as necessary.

If you expect some output from them as your input, request formally in writing. Follow up stating (1st 2nd 3rd follow up etc).

If taken round in circles, such that your request starts at point “a” and goes round b, c, d, e, f, before coming back to a who then does it.. document it. Send a message to “a” and show how you went round in circles and how it resulted in delays and time wastage. Get “a” to promise it wont happen again.

Suppose they try a nibble (small direct attack) – to understand your motives, Don’t look hurt or offended. Look BORED. Take a notebook and ask whoever just made the nibble to repeat what they just said. Note it down. If they don’t repeat – repeat it for them and say you want to have it on record what exactly they are saying. Write down each of the mob’s comments.

Then quietly continue with your work. Try not to show any emotions (hurt or offense even if they say something nasty). Let them leave first before you make your move.

Next respond to each of the mob IN WRITING, as INDIVIDUALS and state the inaccuracies associated with his/her statement. Ask him/her to clarify and substantiate the issue with specific incidents – with dates and times and with no generalizations or ambiguities. State impact of his/her behavior on your work and ask him/her to stop. State that you are copying your boss or his/her boss and that if it happens again, you shall be compelled to escalate further. Keep it factual, brief, to the point, polite and business like.

If, when you are noting down comments, they react violently or you feel unsafe then get away to a safe place first then write to HR and cc your boss immediately about the threat!

2. Prepare for battle. Collect evidence left right and center. SEEK to be mobbed or bullied – then get it documented. Feign insecurity to make the bullies arrogant. Then when they cross the line (e.g. making derogatory statements or false accusations or generalized statements); pause the conversation thus:

“Lets talk about what just happened.” Provided you don’t feel physically threatened, insist you cannot continue with the conversation unless you first discuss “what just happened”.

If its not safe simply find a way to excuse yourself gently or just run out or scream for help (especially if you are a woman – this is an excellent age-old tactic even when you don’t really feel physically threatened but what the bully is doing would appear threatening to an outsider and the bully is a man!).

When you are in a safe place, note down the time of the incident and write a formal email to the bully stating what happened and saying how you felt in danger because of their behavior. Say that you are copying HR and his boss because you believe what just happened is against the company policy. Say politely that you are requesting for him to stop this behavior as it distracts from achieving the company objectives (always focus on how the behavior affects your ability to work on the task at hand). Ask for a commitment that the behavior will not be repeated. Once you get the commitment – DOCUMENT IT (even if it was verbal)

Most likely the behavior will stop – the first time you do this. However it can resurface after a few months.

Now don’t deal with the next incident as a new incident! Thats another mistake. It is CRUCIAL to establish a pattern. and with each repeating incident – escalate to higher management.

Also keep in mind that the bully has committed another offense. He has BROKEN A PROMISE made earlier to stop the behavior.

So your letter for Bully tantrum #2 would refer to the first letter you wrote 6 months ago on the same subject and say this is the 2nd/3rd/4th time etc that the behavior is recurring. Then refer to the PROMISE the bully made and show your concern that the bully DID NOT KEEP HIS/HER PROMISE. Say that its now more difficult to trust the bully on these issues because he/she has shown that he/she doesn’t keep promises. On this basis – escalate higher (or if at highest level, maintain).

Show the impact to your work. State possible impact to others. State he impact to you (do you feel safe etc). and ask “again” for the behavior to stop.

3. Attack from the heavens. Having collected damning evidence, write an objective research paper on bullying/mobbing – in your free time – with credible references, and submit to the most senior HR person in your organization. List the tactics in your paper an compare them to certain incidents you have seen in your organization (you will have evidence in hand at this point – e.g. written correspondence etc)

Ask the HR person for help. Document the request. If HR does nothing, and the offense is repeated, then write again to HR and refer to the PREVIOUS correspondence on the same. State you concern that this is the Xth time that you are writing about this issue and that the behavior is still recurring. Restate the impact of the behavior to your work and to the work environment. State any safety concerns etc. Ask again for “urgent help and intervention”on the matter.

More likely than not, the bully will be disciplined or fired. HR will know you are building a case and most likely will not dare touch you (especially if you already have evidence of their not taking action early).

4. Follow up with ground troops: Do you know former victims of the bully? Get them all together (those who are willing) and all of you simultaneously start a grievance process – if one exists – against the bully.

Now, at this point the bully is no longer in control of the situation and is probably confused… he/she may try to play victim and may spread rumors that YOU are harassing him/her.

To counter this, take any opportunity to talk about the harassment incidents that the bully took part in. Stick to facts and don’t exaggerate. Let people casually know you have escalated to HR – but don’t give details, don’t sensationalize, don’t speculate etc.

Keep doing the above and you will be the least desirable target for bullies and mobs.

Finally, If you see victims being bullied, help them in whatever manner you can. Else you become just as guilty as those who sat and watched when YOU were the victim.

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Life After Office Mobbing – A Fresh Perspective. By Patrick Maina


Patrick Maina

Patrick Maina - Positive Words of Encouragement

Life After Office Mobbing – A Fresh Perspective.

By Patrick Maina

Article Commentary by ABC

HAPPY NEW YEAR!   Here is an excellent idea for your 2009 New Year’s Resolution:  Resolve to channel the energy of your anger against bullies into positive action this year.    Read the four step plan below and learn how you can fulfill your destiny and win the war of life despite lost battles.  Do you have a bigger purpose in life?  Read about this and more in the following article written by Patrick Maina, a reader of this weblog.  Patrick originally wrote this article as a “comment” in response to the article “Revenge, Getting Back at The Bully Boss”.  With Patrick’s permission, I am presenting his “comment” as a feature article to insure that all my readers can easily find his words.  Patrick has a very positive perspective, that I wouldn’t want anyone to miss.      Read “Author’s Bio” at the end of his article to read more about Patrick.

Patrick Maina, on December 31st, 2008 at 9:33 am Said:

Fellow Victims,

Revenge against past bullies will only consume your remaining energy and possibly backfire to hurt you or your family even more. You will learn nothing from revenge – hence you will still be open to future attacks from smarter, wealthier and more powerful mobs or bullies.

That said, don’t suppress or deny your anger. List all the accusations on paper. It’s painful – but list them all. Let the anger grow inside you. Feel it. Let it burn inside you. How could they even dare say what they said? You want to do something, anything to make them pay – right? You feel energized – right? GOOD. Keep reading.

NOW channel all that energy to positive action that will benefit YOU. Yes, that’s right, action that will result in something good for you.

First make a plan:

1. Keep that list of false accusations somewhere you can see it every day. It’s going to be your source of “fire”.

2. Take stock of your positive things and your strengths. Don’t look at negatives – you’ve had enough already. Try and think beyond your career. Are you good at organizing parties (Event management)? did you successfully juggle a job, motherhood, marriage/boyfriend (Time management skills!)? Have you raised children who are on their way to success (leadership / mentoring / counseling skills) etc…

3. What do you really enjoy doing? Is it related to your past job? Most people are extremely adept when it comes to their hobbies. What they don’t know is that others can pay for their skills! Can you bake a pie like no one else? Are you into Art? Can you sing? etc. Losing a job can be an OPPORTUNITY to do what you love!

4. Still prefer employment? Update your CV and make it a daily Job to find a Job. i.e. get up every morning and spend 8 hours looking for a job. Every day. Try freelance and short term assignments in related areas. It doesn’t have to be the job you used to do.

Example: As someone who has been bullied before, I am contemplating doing seminars about the effect of bullying to HR managers. You could team up with a professional speaker and be the “walking case study”.

Remember, what doesn’t destroy you only makes you stronger!

In strategy, a good general can differentiate between a battle and a war. You can lose a battle – and still win the war. Focus on the war (your life) and learn from the lost battle (your lost job).

Historically some of the greatest people on earth were victims of bullying or mobbing. Jesus Christ was mobbed and crucified – and he was God’s son. Moses had to run from Egypt after confronting a bully. Daniel was sexually harassed and thrown into jail on false accusations. Job was bullied and harassed by Satan. Noah was ridiculed and psychologically harassed when he built the ark.. the list is endless!

Yet these “victims” were great people specially chosen by God for a BIGGER PURPOSE IN LIFE. They lost many small battles – but eventually, they won the WAR.

Channel the anger and hate into positive action. They wanted to shatter your confidence – be MORE CONFIDENT THAN EVER! They suggested you are incompetent – be even BETTER at what you do. Never put yourself down.

One day, after you fulfill your destiny, you will look back and realize that despite losing many battles.. you WON the war… and ultimately, that’s what really counts.

Do you like what you just read? Do you agree with the suggestions? Good. Now, don’t start immediately. Treat yourself to a HOLIDAY for the next 3 days – starting tomorrow. Spend time with you and your closest loved ones. Doesn’t have to involve spending. Quality time is what matters. even reading your favorite book or arranging your favorite flowers or playing music… Just forget your troubles and enjoy like never before. Soldiers do this before battle.

Then on 4th Jan., wake up early and start working on your plan for WINNING the war! It will be hard – but as long as you have your list of “accusations” every morning, you will have some fire to channel to positive action in your life.

God Bless!

Author’s bio and more thoughts from Patrick Maina

Patrick Maina is East African, born, raised and educated in Kenya. His interests include reading useful non-fiction books, software enginering, electronics, watching movies with intelligent/unpredictable plots, African theatre, danceable music, dance, media production, travel, nature, hanging out with friends….and so on.

He does not describe himself in terms of his profession. This is deliberate, he explains by writing, “Many people allow their professions to define who they are and their worth in society. This self-labeling is the biggest mistake someone can make. Bullies are aware if this and thats why they easily humiliate people. The bully/mob uses the victim’s career/job as ammunition for his sadistic goals – to crush the victim PERSONALLY.

If you believe *and know* that your job only represents 1% of WHO YOU ARE and what you are WORTH, most of the bully/mob tactics will just “bounce off” you with little or no effect.”

More Thoughts – Patrick writes;

Several times I have been asked to “prove myself” to a new internal customer who doubts my capabilities. Hmmm… Reasons for doubting? Well.. it’s just a gut feeling he/she has that I might not deliver hence he/she is not comfortable with me on the driving seat…

Wow.

Apparently, passing my interview, having a solid track record within the organization, and consistently delivering all my earlier projects on time, within budget and to expected quality levels, does not count to some people.

Cheers!

Patrick.

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