Is there a jerk where you work? Have you ever worked with an honors graduate from Bully Bootcamp who intimidated, threatened, humiliated, or dominated other people?



Yes . . . and no.  Although it’s true you need to protect yourself from potential negative actions of a bully, a key to your freedom from bullies is to understand who they are underneath the frightening mask that can trigger terror in your heart.

The first step is to debunk two myths about bullies and their victims. Understanding what you’re about to read will escalate your personal empowerment. Your confidence and self-esteem will rise when your anxiety about potential abuse and mobbing decline. Your inner critic and the self-criticism it creates will slip away when your stress disappears.

Myth #1.  Bullies are powerful.  Victims are wimps.

Truth:  Bullies are wimps

Bullies sometimes seem to flex mighty muscles, but it’s not because they feel powerful.  Bullies feel so insecure, even when they’re in high-level managerial positions, that they generally use undercover control tactics.  Examples include spreading rumors or publicly discrediting a coworker in an effort to gather group support. If you’re self-employed, a competitor who fears your competency may try to sabotage your success by gaining access to information or clients. 

Myth #2. Bullies target the most vulnerable (the weakest).

Truth:  Bullies generally target very competent people.

Bullies feel so powerless to successfully compete with talented people that they usually target the people who threaten them the most.  They try to sabotage the mental health and performance of the most capable personnel. These targets are often also the most popular workers or competitors.


Reframe your perception of reality

If you’re being bullied at work, instead of feeling like a wimp, understand that you’re perceived as being so competent and well-liked that the bully feels threatened. Really let this truth sink in because this is one of your best defenses:  Bullies are more afraid of you than you are of them. Otherwise, they would relate to you in a direct, collaborative manner.

No matter how it may appear on the surface, the bully is like a frightened child with poorly developed social skills.  Most bullies only know how to relate to people by telling lies, spreading rumors, making demands and threats, or using other attempts to gain power over others.  Many sulk and pout in an attempt to induce guilt and manipulate others.

Like children who bully on the playground, most adult bullies recruit supporters (cheerleaders) because they can’t maintain their bravado without people who reinforce their game.

Since bullies target competent people who are well-respected, you are perfectly capable of gaining your own supporters. Build a solid support network of objective colleagues, leadership personnel, friends, and family.  As long as you’re being proactive instead of whining, it may also serve you to develop a support network with others who have been bullied by the same bully. Support is important because bullies try to isolate their targets.

Take steps to ensure your well-being

Bullies will play the role of victim to anyone who will indulge this cover up. Although some bullies become explosive, most act in passive-aggressive ways. Either way, you need to take steps to ensure your mental health and your well-being.

Avoid inadvertently reinforcing bad behavior by caving in. For a point of reference, notice that effective parents don’t reinforce a child’s temper tantrum by giving into every whim. Instead, own your personal power in a safe and constructive way. Since you are not a wimp, don’t act afraid of a bully. Avoid unnecessary interactions without being submissive.  Don’t let bullies know their behavior disturbs you.  Since a bully’s goal is control and power, if you refuse to be a target, most will seek another more cooperative prey.

If you work in a company, carefully document situations in which you’re bullied  --  preferably with witnesses.  Talk to your Human Resources manager. If you don’t receive the support you need, continue to document abusive situations until you gain a good listener. Always speak in a factual, non-emotional way.

If you’re self-employed, disengage from customers and vendors who bully and seek the support of other entrepreneurs. Even during tough economic times, the toll on your mental health caused by unreasonable clients never pays off.  Practice self-respect by saying “No thank you” to business that doesn’t feel right to you.  At a minimum, significantly raise your rates for the extra problems caused by working with a person who could cheat you out of happiness at work.


Once you understand the reality of the bully who is hiding beneath a frightening mask, you’ll get in touch with your personal power. You deserve a work environment that supports your peak performance. Take action now to gain the joy on the job you want.

Asking for help when you feel stuck is a sign of high self-esteem. You're saying to yourself, "I’m ready to create a life that includes everything I want, including excellent compensation for work I love to do and rewarding relationships.” Would you like assistance from a coach recently named “One of America’s Top Ten Coaches” so you can overcome the blocks to your happiness and success?

Author's Bio: 

Visit now. Claim free ebooks and videos so you can conquer your inner critic, discover happiness at work and turn painful experiences into personal empowerment. Doris Helge, Ph.D., “Your Joy on the Job Coach,” is author of #1 Bestselling Books, including “Joy on the Job,” “Conquer Your Inner Critic” and “Transforming Pain Into Power.”

© 2013. Permission to reprint this article is granted if the article is in tact, with proper credit given. All reprints must state, "Reprinted with permission by Doris Helge, Ph.D. Originally published in the #1 Bestselling book, "Joy on the Job."