Bullying that Can Kill Your Career

Bullying that Can Kill Your Career
In my last blog post, I talked about workplace bullying, which is experienced by 35% of American workers. What if I told you there was another kind of bullying that folks face, one that is more pervasive?

Sadly, virtually everyone is a target of this bullying. What’s worse, everyone is also a perpetrator of this act.

What am I talking about? I’m referring to that inner voice that intimidates you, pushes you around, convinces you that you are less than your colleagues or that you couldn’t possibly provide value to others.

You know what I mean. We’ve all had those moments in life where our inner bullies dominate our minds. They persuade us to not try for that promotion because it would be too much of a stretch. Or to doubt our competence at our existing jobs. Or to fear challenging ourselves to do more at work because people would then know that we can’t really do it — we are imposters.

Why do we believe the self-bullying talk? I think it’s largely out of habit — any time that something comes up that would push us to the edge of (or beyond) our comfort zones, we get a little jittery. Our desire to save face kicks in and the messages start flowing:

“You’ve never done that before.”
“Are you sure you can handle it?”
“How embarrassing if you fail!”
“They’ll all know you can’t be trusted to do a good job.”
“You’ll ruin your career!”

But stop and think for a moment…

  • Haven’t you ever taken on tasks that were new?
  • Have others been willing to help when you are learning a challenging aspect of your job?
  • Don’t people encourage you to try again if you stumble a bit?

In many cases, the answers to these questions will be “yes” because we’ve all been there and appreciated the help that others have given when we are faced with a task that is new. In general, folks don’t expect perfection because they know that they themselves are not perfect. Inherently, we are far harder on ourselves than others would be.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. You will have the jerks of this world who will try to bring you down, and there may be merit in honestly evaluating whether there may be a kernel of truth to what they are saying. Or not.

But don’t let your inner bully bring you down before you have even had a chance to try something! The negative self-talk would keep you from trying new things or growing your career. If you listen to it, you will find yourself never going beyond what you currently know.

Is that really what you want for your career? For yourself?

Image courtesy of Tien Hoang Dinh

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