Be assertive, say no to bullying


A tactful way to turn down a task is to say, 'I'd like to help and wish I could say yes. But I don't have time do the job.' Setting the...

A tactful way to turn down a task is to say, "I'd like to help and wish I could say yes. But I don't have time do the job." Setting the boundary, politely yet firmly, will stop such behaviour

I am a hard-worker but my colleagues exploit me. I feel inferior. What do I do?
- Rajan, Tirupati

Helping others is an admirable trait but if it is taken as weakness by others, it inevitably leads to burn out and resentment in us. Due to this non - assertive behavior, some people deliberately try to overload us with their work. A major survey conducted by the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology showed that the effects of workplace bullying (exploitation) are estimated to be responsible for one third to a half of all stress related illnesses. The person who feels exploited or bullied by others experience psychological health problems such as depression, anxiety or low self-esteem, physical health problems such as stomach problems, or sleep difficulties and their performance at work place can also be affected.

Signs of stress
It's important to be aware of signs of stress to learn to manage them. The signs of stress include:

• Trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep once awakened
• Feeling inferior, poor self esteem and lack of confidence
• Overeating, or having no appetite
• Withdrawing from family or friends
• Stomach pain, upset stomach, or nausea,
• Lower productivity at work

Exposure to non - stop negativity can also disrupt learning, memory, attention and judgment, says Robert Sapolsky, a prominent author and professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. The brain, he says, can only handle so many stimuli at once before it begins losing ability to concentrate or remember—especially if that steady stream of negativity sparks distressing emotions.It can be extremely upsetting to be on the receiving end of what you perceive to be harassing or bullying behavior.

How to be assertive with such people:

Saying “No”:

There are three basic interpersonal styles that we can use when interacting with people. These are: passive, aggressive and assertive. If you are passive and voice your concerns, often people take advantage of you and you end up with feelings of inferiority whereas aggression also does not help. Though at times, it can be beneficial for short duration, but in the longer run, chances are there that you will alienate with people, which will prevent you from eventually attaining your needs.

Being assertive always helps us to regain control over the situation and confidence in ourselves. Assertiveness also helps us solve problems since the needs of both parties are taken into account. A tactful way to turn down a task is to say, "I'd like to help and wish I could say yes. But I don't have the time do the job."

One option here is to make it clear you liked being asked, “Thanks for asking me, but it is not possible” or “I’m pleased you asked, but I cannot”. You could acknowledge the other person’s needs. You can give a clear reason for why you are saying no. For example, “I have too much work” or “I already made a commitment”. You can make a suggestion to help resolve their difficulty: “Maybe you could do it tomorrow”. If the person keeps doing it over and over, use the ‘broken record’ or ‘cutting the sound’methods to deal with him.
Broken Record: Simply keep repeating what you have said and include slight variations you like. For example, “Yes, I know, but, like I just said …”, then, “No. I really can’t”. Cutting The Sound: If leaving the situation is impossible, let the other talk without paying attention

Other options:

Setting personal boundaries:

Being part of a group doesn’t mean we must lose our sense of individuality. Setting a boundary means having the courage to say no to new tasks when you’re already too busy. Many of us fear saying no will suggest a lack of commitment. Some of us are people-pleasers and don’t want to incur someone’s negativity by saying something they don’t want to hear. But saying no when you’re over-loaded shows others that you possess self-respect and that you want your work to remain at a high standard rather than taking on too much and letting people down.

It is also important that when dealing with colleagues who delegate too much and try to dump their work on us or others. Setting the boundary, politely yet firmly, will stop such behaviour from this other person, and give you more time to do your own work properly.
Work relationships and career politics can be complex, but paying attention to your own behaviour and maintaining our own integrity can only strengthen our identity at work. Usually many organisations have their own policy of dealing with work place harassment. But in the absence of such policies, we have to explore ways to deal with those issues.

Improve your communication skills.

Strengthen your ability to convey the message that you want to say. Prepare and rehearse making these assertions with someone at home. Role play with a trusted adviser will help. Learning to speak up will help you to enhance your self - confidence and self - worth and enable you to ask for support when you need it.

Tips to overcome the problem:

• If you suddenly show the ability to resist their manipulations, this may encourage them to try harder and test your limits. Don't give in; respect your limits as you have a right to live as well.
• Do lot of activities to boost your morale
• Find smart ways to avoid getting exploited again. Don’t fight, walk out; point out their inappropriate behavior, refuse to tolerate the behavior and set the rules of engagement.
• Trust your gut feeling, protect yourself.
• Don’t be naive.
• Don’t try to change those who harass you. It’s difficult. Distance yourself from the person if possible and protect yourself.

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