Even in toxic workplaces, senior managers' goal is to function as a unit — even if it's a horribly dysfunctional or even corrupt unit. Functioning as a unit requires support of the top, even if support doesn't come from the top, in a system with a drastic asymmetry of power.
So once targets speak up, no matter how justified they are in their claims, they put bullseyes on their backs.
Extremely infrequently, filing a lawsuit or complaint with an outside agency, union, or HR, direct confrontation of an abuser, and intervention from the abuser's boss help targets stop the abuse — making all of these strategies nearly equally effective as doing absolutely nothing.
In fact, doing absolutely nothing can at least prevent the abuse from escalating and preserve a target's reputation in the industry.
But the most effective way to stop the abuse is for targets to remove themselves from the rigged game. We're talking quitting (standing more in one's power than waiting to be forced out, also known as constructive discharge). Transfer and termination can also take a target out of the toxic environment but with less positive outcomes on targets' self-worth.
While the target is the one put out the majority of the time simply because his or her boss or coworker is threatened by his or her competence, the alternative is health damage spiraling out of control — a form of targets choosing to hand over power over their lives to abusers in the name of fairness.
Imagine being in an abusive partnership and fighting for it out of fairness. Moving on is not weakness. It's strength and fighting for targets' own best interests: what they deserve.
Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage.
Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s behaving. At best, the bully’s sidetracking the goals of the organization. At worst, the bully’s threatening or maybe even destroying your life by abusing you: your health, your family, your career, your finances, and your happiness.
You know it’s not a personality conflict. You’re not too sensitive. You’re not thin-skinned. It’s downright abuse. You expected your work environment to support you to do the work you were hired to do. You expected to be treated with dignity and respect.
The organization doesn’t care. They think it’s in their best interest to ignore the problem — meaning you — and make you go away. When you speak up, you’re the problem. You’re treasonous. If you fight them, they’ll fight harder.
Meanwhile, you’re stressed out and angry, and it gets worse the longer the bullying goes on, making you an easier target for the bully. Your physical and mental health are depleted. You consider or take stress leave.
Find out what workplace bullying is, why it happens, what's worked — and what hasn't worked — for hundreds of other workplace bullying targets, and how to start the path to healing in this comprehensive online course drawing from the greatest minds in workplace bullying.
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