you're dealing with heroes and villains in a movie, the plot is simple. The
hero has to find the villain and take him down (and in most cases, indulges
in a little romance on the side). There are several ways the hero can confront
his nemesis, but the most common method is total annihilation machine
guns, hand grenades and the obligatory car chase through New York City. Of course,
the hero emerges unscathed and still able to rattle off a couple of humorous
Over the course of your career you've probably had more than one villainous
colleague or manager someone who delights in bullying, belittling or
sabotaging a coworker. But how many times have you seen someone stand up to
the villain and play the part of the hero? Unlike the movies, in real life (and
especially at work) we tend to give the villain the upper hand. We assume we've
done something wrong if a colleague or manager is picking on us. Or we go home
and stew it over, but we don't actually confront the person.
So take a tip from the movies if you're being bullied or victimized
at work, it's time to take action. Remember the action movie plot
the villain and take him down. Your coworkers will thank you for it, and while
your aim certainly isn't a company-wide blood bath, a peaceful, pleasant working
environment is a pretty worthwhile thing to fight for!
The most obvious workplace villain is the bully. Just like the bullies you knew
in elementary school, these people use intimidation and threats in an attempt
to demean you and build themselves up in the process.
stop a bully in his tracks, remain calm, but don't be a wimp. Instead of hiding
out in the photocopy room after a run-in with the company bully, stand your
ground. If the bully is ranting and raving, look him straight in the eye and
firmly but calmly say, "Please don't speak to me like that. We're both
professionals and I'd like to resolve this issue in a professional manner."
If he continues, say, "I'm sorry, I refuse to discuss this issue any further.
Please stop by my desk after you've calmed down." Then walk away.
Nothing is more infuriating to a bully than someone who refuses to listen.
By walking away you've asserted your position, and you've let the bully know
you refuse to be intimidated by him. And don't be afraid to confront a bully
in public. Most bullies spread their nastiness around, so others are bound to
support you if you call a bully on the spot.
Back stabbers are just as vicious as bullies, but they shy away from confrontation.
If you find out someone in your office is talking about you behind your back,
the first thing to do is verify if it's true. If it is, you have two options
you can ignore the gossip or confront the person responsible for starting
the rumors in the first place. As a rule of thumb, if the gossip could affect
your career, you really can't afford to ignore it. Try approaching the back
stabber and saying something like, "Jane, I understand you've been telling
people that I jeopardized the Allan account by missing the advertising deadline.
I did no such thing, and I'd appreciate it if you stopped spreading unfounded
gossip. In the future, please approach me directly if you have a problem with
The key here is to be calm, factual and firm. State the exact rumor (if you're
vague, it's easier for the back stabber to deny it) and explain in no uncertain
terms that you won't tolerate gossip in the future.
These are the people who are totally apathetic about their work. But instead
of just affecting their own careers, their apathy spills over and kills the
spirit and enthusiasm of everyone around them. Their favorite phrases are "that
would never work", "we tried that a couple of years ago and it was
a flop." or the old favorite "you really don't understand how things
work around here."
If an idea killer is a colleague, he or she is merely a drag. If your boss
is an idea killer however, it can be deadly. An idea killer can block your efforts
so much that it looks like you're as apathetic and incompetent as they are.
Upper management may view you as a non-performer they won't see that
you pitch new ideas all the time.
The next time you pitch an idea, anticipate the idea killer's objections and
come prepared to counter them. If you want to instigate a rebate program and
you know the company tried one ten years ago, go in with facts and figures to
highlight the different market conditions that would make the campaign work
this time around.
If he still won't come around, tell (don't ask) him that you're going to pitch
the idea to a more senior manager.
Explain that you want to hear their reaction "just in case their thinking
has changed since you last spoke with them." The idea killer's biggest
fears are confrontation and change. So don't be afraid to stand your ground
if you're trying to get around an apathetic boss.
Whoever the villain in your life is, don't be afraid to confront them. But
remember, the good guys are only successful if they're truly
good. So don't confront a colleague or manager without a good
reason, otherwise you'll end up playing in the villain!