Being Bullied At Work: Write Your Own Script

by Jul 21, 2012

Being bullied at work is hard on us. It tears us down, it rips us apart, it takes away our dignity. We don’t need to reach very far inside us to notice the inner damage we feel when we tell yet another chapter of the bully-at-work saga to our loved ones. We don’t need to dig very deep to feel pain while we re-live Friday’s ridiculous bully-encounter as we lay in bed early Monday morning wishing we didn’t have to go to work.

In re-living these horrific stories either within our minds or with our confidants, it becomes easier to tell ourselves that things are beyond our control. Your manager won’t help, others are being bullied right along with you, and the bully seems to keep getting promoted. Before you know it, discouragement has settled in along with a hefty decline in self-esteem, and we can’t see beyond the situation. To us, it seems hopeless.

Now, have you ever noticed that you talk to yourself? We all do it. We all carry on conversations within ourselves while we’re driving, brushing our teeth, or having a fresh cup of coffee. And not only do we talk to ourselves, but we tell ourselves stories. We re-live things that have happened to us, and we verbalize those stories to others.

Stories create our sense of self. They help us understand who we are. They give us an identity. They create a “you”. They help us organize the things that have transpired in our past so that we can function in society as we move forward toward the future.

For example, you’ve told yourself the story of the doctor’s appointment you attended last week, haven’t you? Next time you go the the doctor, you know about what will happen, because it will likely follow the same script as the last appointment. The story you created in your mind provides guidance for the next time you attend the scenario of a doctor’s appointment.

Now take a closer look at the other stories you’ve created in your mind most recently. Regardless of what’s happening to you in your life at this moment, you’ve woven some narratives that explain where you’ve been and where you’re going, who you are and who you’re becoming. It’s easy to presume that life’s events dictate those stories, and that things are beyond our control. Right? But you write the script. You’re the author. Things aren’t out of control because you can change the script just as easily as I can hit “delete” this very moment and start over on a new blog entry.

Whatever you tell yourself is the indicator of how you will respond to life’s various scenarios. Imagine what you could do if you tossed the ol’ bully story in the garbage and started on a fresh piece of paper.

We have the power to make choices. We have the power to write our own stories. We are not characters in “The Devil Wears Prada,” where the script has been written for us. We are our own authors. That means we have to make decisions about the direction of our stories and what happens to the characters within them. Continue to replay that same old story about being bullied, and guess what will happen?

Start fresh with a new story about a fantastic work-life, and guess what will happen? So open up a fresh new Word doc, pick your favorite font, and begin your new story.

We are not idle passers-by in our own lives, and we have the choice to change things for the better. Be proactive, not reactive, and your scripts will have a Hollywood happy ending.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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