Friday, January 2, 2009

Stretch your mind

Wayne Dyer, infamous self-development author and speaker, once stated, "What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds."

Think about that for a second. And then think about this: Things are the way we think they are because we think they are that way.

I've been writing a book chapter for a new book coming out in 2009, called Understanding and Addressing Workplace Bullying (keep your eye out for it). As I've been reviewing my what feels like millions of research articles sprawled all over my office, I find myself becoming more and more annoyed.

One article mentioned that researchers hesitate to include targets in the research on workplace bullying because that would mean targets play some part in a bully's antics. Another mentioned that we should be careful to include targets because they are not necessarily part of the equation, and that research should focus on the bullies and organizational factors specifically. I've also noticed most of the websites out there claim that victims are just that. One in particular mentioned that there's nothing wrong with you, victim, but everything is wrong with the bully.

But here's the thing. It takes two to tango. It takes two people to interact. And why do some people go home crying and wailing that they are bullied at work, while others simply go home feeling like their boss is a jerk? The answer is perception, the ability to stand up for yourself, to maintain self-confidence even when something is pushing you down, and to verbally match a bully. Those things mark the difference between a victim and someone who doesn't feel bullied.

I know this might be harsh. But I was once a victim. I can look back on the scenario and blame the bully. I can hate him and what he did to me for the rest of my life.

But I'd rather learn from my experience. What could I have done differently? Why did I let him take my self-confidence? During those arguments in his office what could I have said to change my situation?

The answer is a lot of different things. But the answer is certainly not that it wasn't my fault. I certainly wasn't an innocent bystander. What I felt about my situation determined how it played out. In order to change my life, I needed to stretch my mind, my assertive communication and my ability to stand up for myself.

And moving forward, I intend to do just that. I hope you will join me.


Melissa Paulik said...


This is always tough to say to someone who feels they are being bullied, but I always want to ask them if they are being just a bit too thin skinned. Many time the criticisms, although poorly delivered, have a grain of truth.

To me, the trick is to pull out the useful information, without letting it affect our ego, and throw out all the other junk that gets thrown our way.

All the best!


Anonymous said...


With all the respect intended, it might not always be that simple. You might have a different understanding and different abilities then others. Some people are truly victims and feel that they do not have a voice... and your bully knows that. A bully might sense that fear in you. That is why Catherine is here, to let people know that they are not alone. We all like “constructive criticism”, but ego has nothing to do with this. If you are a professional you should know how to fix a problem without criticizing…. Come on? Lets get to the truth here… there is a huge difference in a person not preforming the way you predicted, but we are talking about people who preform to their best always and get shut down and abused, then their ideas are taken credit for by the person that wanted you to do a better job. And really let me ask… do we need to make someone feel inadequate for not preforming to standard or can we explain what standards are?