A year ago I wrote about how to stand up to a disrespectful coworker. I had just gone through the terrifying process of telling someone how I expected to be treated with the hope of creating a peaceful coexistence. In the end, I was so proud of myself.
The good thing about it was I was able to bring the issue out in the open so he knew how I felt.
The bad news is some people just don’t care how you feel.
The worse news is that we can’t change these people.
And sometimes, body language and tone of voice can feel like a punch in the gut. I know…I’ve left meetings feeling like the wind (and courage) was knocked out of me. I was never bullied in school, but I imagine this is what it feels like. In the process, I learned that even if you do the right thing and acknowledge the issue, you can’t always stop it. The only thing you can do is change how you let it affect you, or leave.
I figure there are always going to be people in life who talk down to you and treat you as if you were useless and invisible. I tell myself that dealing with them is just practice for learning how to tap into my own confidence and believe in my self-worth. I have to, or I’d fall prey to this too often. If it’s actual harassment, you should file a complaint with your manager or HR to intervene immediately. Otherwise, here are a few things to help you ignore the office bully.
Be kind to yourself. Realize that you’re adding to your own hurt by giving other people’s opinions so much weight and attention. Not everyone is going like you, and that’s ok because you don’t need to like them either. You’re just mature enough to not let them know it.
Realize that some people are not very skilled at realizing how they make others feel, or aren’t very delicate with how their actions and words come across. You will not be able to change these people, so your best option is to remember that you like yourself and they are just another (imperfect) human themselves.
Try not to personalize it. Do this by envisioning what you would say to your younger self. For example, “Yes, 7-year-old me, it is very odd that they are acting like that but you did nothing wrong and should not worry. Some people are just different in how they communicate.” The idea is to soften the blow. You would be very logical with a small child in explaining someone’s negative actions. Apply the same concept to yourself.
One way to stop worrying what people think of you is to realize their actions could have nothing to do with you. Maybe you remind them of someone and therefore they talk to you a certain way. It doesn’t excuse rude behavior, but it allows you to realize you may not have anything to do with this at all.
Remember that you are not this person, thank heavens. All you owe them is respect. You can try two or three times to reach out, but if that doesn’t work let it go. Think of the people in your life who love and support you. These are the people you should focus on.