June 10th, 2009

Avoid Repeating Workplaces with Bullies

We have two ways to avoid stumbling into one bullying workplace after another.

First, screen the next potential employer during the interview process.

• Ask why the job is open and how long the predecessor was there. If asked why you ask, answer "just curious." (Turnover is the key indicator that bullying happens there.)
• Ask what is the hiring manager's attitude toward "workaholics." (If they say it is expected, lots of unpaid overtime, abandonment of family, etc. know what you are getting into.)
• Ask what policies or codes exist to ensure a "Respectful Workplace." If they answer with that naturally they have and enforce anti-harassment rules. Push farther for the presence of a code that makes unacceptable abusive, cruel, destructive conduct regardless of illegality. If they answer that they rely on "common sense," that "no one like that" works here, state that the best places to work recognize that out-of-control people are destructive and have clear guidelines and punish offenders. More important to you than the absence of a policy is the response they give to the question. You decide how risky it is to work in a place that denies it happens. During the interview, you may actually have to say that you left an employer because they refused to protect workers from unsafe people. It is imperative that you take the next job with your eyes wide open. No more surprises. No deer-in-the-headlights paralysis for you.

Second, restore your health before looking for a job. Try to establish new personal boundaries that strangers will not cross, making slight changes as described in the book The Bully At Work. Limit your openness and desire to disclose so much of yourself when others reveal nothing personal about themselves. Make them give first, then reciprocate slightly. Depending on the severity of the harm suffered and the nature of your departure (in your control or involuntarily disgraced), rebound time can be long.


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 11:44 am and is filed under Tutorials About Bullying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. Rand says:

    When I first started working with our new hire, I didn’t recognize the signs right away. I was required to orient him and get him started being productive. In a very short time, he started making little insults. I figured this was normal simply because people are different. Some people require you to work harder to get along. Then his insults became blatant and out of control. One time he yelled the same statement over 10 times to me at a customers office. In fact, in hindsight he was not technically accurate, but it was so aggressive and foward, my only response was hey knock it off. From that moment on my anger was peaked. I thought, how dare someone yell at me like that the same phrase ten times in a row. Where I grew up that would invite a fist to the mouth. Sort of a way of saying, I will shut up that pie hole. Well, I didnt and continued to let him insult me day after day. I never realized because I thought it was me. I was trying to cooperate with him and adjust my behavior. Finally, I stewed over it so much one night I was fit to be tied. I wrote my boss a long letter explaining all the details. I made the mistake of including the emotional impact it had made on me. It did stop him temporarily and lessened the frequency. However, I found out later that during his meeting with the boss he managed to introduce the thought, you have to consider the source. In other words, he implies I was unstable person and he was innocent.

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