I grew up in a tough neighborhood in Paterson New Jersey where a high school principal had to carry a baseball bat to make a point. I have stared down the barrel of guns and survived a knife fight or two as I watched my childhood friends fall one by one to the hopelessness and misery that can so often be part of living in poverty.
While I’ve had my share of battles I also learned when it was time to take the back way home. The path around obstacles and challenges that may take a little longer, but can ultimately get you to your destination of choice. The same thing applies in the corporate arena. There is a time to fight and there is a time for avoidance and knowing the difference between the two can pave the way to success.
Corporate bullies dominate the landscape these days embolden by pre-existing relationships and benefactors and filled with an overwhelming sense of entitlement and arrogance as they wreak havoc on your psyche and the environment around them. I learned during my early years how to read and interpret behaviors very quickly. When your life is on the line and your next action can quickly become your last, you develop an innate ability to read and predict behavior in others.
Bullies also have that ability, they know who to pick on and they are aware of the scope and breadth of their reach into the organization. They succeed more times than not because you cannot fight back, the rules in the work place favor the bully, not you. Your recourse in those situations is to chart a path around the obstacle by taking the back way to your desired destination.
So here are some steps that you can take to ensure you have an alternate route:
1) Never become complacent in your current assignment. I cannot tell you how many times I have come across people who do not keep up to date resumes.
2) Use it. That resume is not just for self-affirmation. Interviewing internally and externally should be a part of your networking activities. Even if you have a cozy relationship with your boss it does not hurt to see what else is out there.
3) Don’t get baited into the wrong reaction by someone else’s insecurity. Take a step back refocus and engage individuals in a professional manner and do call them to the carpet when they cross the line
4) Contrary to some advice from an executive “taking it” is not a solution in the long run. I didn’t survive all of those battles in the hood by not fighting back on occasion so don’t just settle for silently walking away
Above all else, focus on doing an exemplary job in the face of the challenges thrown your way and be proactive in charting different paths around bullies. I promise you will get there if you avoid the dear in the headlights reaction to your current circumstances – so let’s get moving.
About the Author
Gary Garris has spent twenty plus years working in the insurance and financial services arena leading voice of the customer and sales initiatives. He has a well rounded operational background in underwriting, sales, auditing, claims and application development. Gary has a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and received his Master’s degree from Thomas Edison College. Gary is the author of Odd Man Out Fighting for Visibility in Corporate America. You can contact Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org.