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Assertiveness and Bullying in the Workplace

Jul 13, 2008
Even the best of us has one of those days - or a memory of one of those days when we dread going to work - not because we don't want to work, but because the sheer thought of having to deal with one personality is enough to exhaust and drain us of energy.

Yep, the bully you were scared of back in your childhood days seems to have grown up, too. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to have changed. And now they haunt your working days just as badly as they haunted your school days.

Assertive Behaviour in the face of the Workplace Bully

Successfully dealing with the workplace bully sometimes leads to the intervention of the company or organization's personnel and human resources department. Also sometimes it can be more effectively dealt with, on a more personal level. It makes sense that if you report negative bullying attitude to the appropriate higher-ups, you have the help and support of company policies on inter-office management.

Human relationships being what it is might likely get adverse reactions from the rest of your workmates for being a "snitch." Now this may be an unjustified observation, but it can happen. And because it is so probable, you might want to consider that perhaps the best way of dealing with the conflicts surrounding you is by learning to assert your rights on your own.

Assertiveness is a learned skill

Being assertive means that you stand up for your rights even in the face of what are controlling or manipulative behaviors from others.

Being assertive also means that you are can freely and honestly express your opinions and feelings about a particular situation without the fear of reprisals or being punished because of such honesty.

The important thing to remember is that assertiveness is a learned skill. Thus, if you lack assertiveness, you can and probably should learn it. You'll find that each assertive act only serves to reinforce your assertive "muscles," so to speak.

The backbone of good assertive behavior is your own appreciation of your personal rights. These are rights which others should also respect. Thus:

- You have the right to say "no" when somebody asks you to do something which you are either not responsible for, or something that you judge is asking too much from you

- You are not responsible for other people's problems and it is not your duty to solve them

- You have the right to express your disagreement or difference of opinion from others without being punished for such self-expression

In many ways, a good grasp and understanding of your own rights, and the rights of others is a fine starting point for a confident expression of those rights. You express these rights in how you deal with others and in how you express yourself, especially in how you act in conflict situations. Just be mindful in your manner of self-expression and see that you don't cross the line into aggressive behavior instead.

The consistent application of assertive behavior can be a rewarding experience in itself. Not only will you be able to breathe easier after having been able to express your own opinions and feelings, but you might find that most people actually appreciate you better for knowing how to draw healthy boundaries in your working relationships with them.
About the Author
Benedict Smythe recommends PDL Courses for training in most professional skills including assertiveness skills and Supervisory Management skills
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