Standing up for Yourself

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Bullying. Being intimidated. Being treated unfairly.

I’m sure it’s happened to most of us at one point or another in our career, or even before that. I’ve worked with bullies and hard balls. I’ve worked with people who think they can be-little me because I am young.

Here are tips that I’ve picked up from dealing with these types of people.

Stay Calm and Reflect

Before you get worked up and say something that you may regret. (esp. at work) Stop, take deep breathes and count to 10. Then think about if this person has a point. If that’s the case, figure out a possible solution.

If it is something that you felt wrongly accused of, or injustice or you were just plain bullied. Then think about why and how it happened.


If you figured out that you have been wrong fully treated or bullied, I always find it best to approach the individual who bullied you. Unless you feel scared for your safety. Do not approach the individual if that is the case.

Otherwise, I would approach the individual first, and talk to them before approaching your boss, their boss, then HR (in that order).

Practice saying out loud what you would say, maybe even to someone else. They can let you know if you’re being clear or just rambing on. Are you being clear about what happened? Are you sticking to the facts? Are you clear about what your expectations are and how you’d like to address this problem.


After you’ve practiced and know exactly what you are going to say and how to say it, approach the person. Ask if now would be a good time to speak with them, in private. Talk with them in a more private place, maybe in an empty cafeteria instead of their cubicle. Watch the person’s reaction – you don’t want to come down too hard or too soft. You just want to get your point across.

Finish off with something like, I prefer to get things in the open, so that we can communicate more effectively in the future. Try to end on a positive note.

My Example

Working late and snide comments

I worked with a co-worker who worked 24/7 and expected everyone else to do the same. Too many times, they approached me with “something that had to get out” at 5:00pm.

One particular tine, I stayed late and worked to meet their deadline but explained that I had to leave by 8:00pm (since they let me know at the end of the day), and I had plans. Instead of saying it to my face, I get an email saying, “It’s so hard to find good help these days.”

I was mad but I knew that I was too angry to clearly articulate myself. I went home and ranted to my sister, my roommate, whomever would listen. Then, I practiced saying out loud what I wanted to say to my project manager. I practiced for probably 3 hours saying out loud before it sounded right to me (I did this while folding about 3 loads of laundry).

Then, I went to work and spoke with my co-worker when I had a chance. I pulled them aside and asked to speak to them in private. I started off by reminding them what happened, and told them that last minute requests are difficult to complete and do well. If they had told me earlier, I would have worked on it in the afternoon instead of scrambling. Lastly, I told them their snide comment was not appreciated.

My co-worker apologized. And even better, I noticed that they stopped coming to me at the last minute for work to be done. Sure, sometimes last minute things happen, but it was no longer a regular occurrence.


The first time I confronted a co-worker, it was so hard. One of the hardest things I’d have to do. But after that, it was a gazillion times easier.  The next time my co-worker bullied me, I didn’t hesitate to stand up for myself.

Just like no one cares more about your money than you, no ones cares more about your well-being than you. If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?

What are your tips for standing up for yourself against bullies? I would love to read your stories of standing up for yourself.



Filed under Career

5 responses to “Standing up for Yourself

  1. I’m not nearly as tactfull as you. I think the last time I felt wrongfully treated was an older woman in a more senior position asked me to do something for her – I don’t work in her department nor do I report to her, this was merely a favour that I would do for her. The favour was a question about a legislation. After I answered her question, she called me back and was very bitchy. It’s not that I didn’t answer her question, or that she didn’t answerstand the answer, but because my email answer just provided a quick answer, it wasn’t in an essay format so that she could directly plug it into a memo, which is what she wanted for her records (she never told me this before asking the question). So I write her back with an essay-type answer, and told her that I had no time for the otehr project she had asked me to help her on (because it turns out she expected me to do the entire work for her even though I’m doing her a favour and she would label my labour as hers). I told her that I needed to support the members of my team in addition to my own work, and she wrote back in a snide remark “oh ok, who are the members on your team” – so I answered her email, told her what was on my plate, and let her know that if she wanted to escalate this issue (e.g., we both go talking to our bosses) I’d be happy to, and she backed right down. Our relationship isn’t great now, when I see her she often has some kind of snide remarks toward me or “helpful” (read: bitchy) hints about my outfits … It’s unfortunate because we had an good relationship before, but I’m glad I stood up to her.

    • My way might not work for everyone, the important thing is that you stood up for yourself! Koodos to you for that, it’s tough to do.

      It’s too bad that your relationship had to change but maybe she wasnt as good a friend if that was how she treated you.

  2. Kay

    Wow!! Very nicely handled! I’m absolutely not very good at it and I get very tensed and brood over it for weeks..

    I really like yoru words” I prefer to get things in the open, so that we can communicate more effectively in the future.”… Mind if I borrow it?
    Also, Can you please share some more of this very tactful sentences ?

    I was not really bullied, this was a different situation.. but yes, I do definitely need to learn how to stand up for myself. I am planning to request meeting where I need to bring up some very sensitive issues. Somebody misunderstood me because they werent aware of the events that triggered it and as much as I need to clear it, I’m dreading the meeting.

    • Good luck with your meeting. You will do great, just think about what it is you are trying to achieve. And of course, you can definitely use that sentence! I’m glad that it’s helping someone else! I will try to think of more 😉

  3. Pingback: Misrepresentation of Women in the Media | fabulously fru-girl

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