30/08/2012 14:31 | By Eve Menezes Cunnigham, contributer, MSN Her

Don’t let bullies get you down

Psychology writer Eve Menezes Cunningham gives tips and advice if you're feeling bullied in the workplace.

Cher Lloyd walking off the stage as a bottle of urine is thrown at her (© Yui Mok, PA Wire, Press Association)

Cher Lloyd walking off the stage as a bottle of urine is thrown at her

I imagine most people were horrified to read about someone throwing a bottle of urine at Cher Lloyd when she was onstage recently. Just as she hasn't let it stop her and has continued with her plans to go to America, you can learn to use the times you've felt bullied and humiliated make you stronger.

"We did a national study on bullying in the UK," says Cary Cooper, President of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University and the author of Bullying at Work.

"Unfortunately, quite a lot of women keep silent about it. They think they did something wrong, that it's their fault. In all probability, the person doing it is probably doing it to other people. Check with work colleagues. Frequently, the bully does it quietly and bumps off people one at a time. If so, as a group, go to a more senior person or HR and report it.

"If it's just you, it's about your relationship with that person. Find a time, when that person is not overly stressed and to talk to him or her. Let them know what you perceive them to be doing by giving specific examples. Keep a diary of bullying events so you can say, 'Last Wednesday, when I had that idea in the meeting, you put me down.' Be very specific and say, 'It's having a negative effect on me. How can we resolve it?' If it continues after you've given the feedback in a patient and quiet constructive way, go to HR or the person's boss."

Cher Lloyd (© Doug Peters, EMPICS Entertainment, Press Association)

Cher Lloyd has spoken out about being targeted by internet bullies

"Usually, in the workplace, it's psychological rather than physical bullying," says counsellor, Linden Rosam. "Gain some perspective by looking at it in the grand scheme of things. Think about the things you're good at to bolster your own ego and gather all your resources. Talk about it to people in your support network. It's the stuff that stays hidden that eats us up. Talking about it, no matter how painful it seems, makes a difference."

You might also use it as an opportunity to think about your personal PR. "When we become visible, we have strong opinions at our work," says Lyndsey Whiteside of Inspired PR. "Some people will love those opinions and want to buy from us and support us while others will want to knock us down. We need to realise that our job is to help the people who want our services. We can help some people but we can't help everyone. Jon Bon Jovi said something a long time ago about having bottles of urine thrown at him - he said dodging them was how he learnt to dance! Good advice on brushing it off from a seasoned rocker."

When you think about your own experience with a bully, what did it teach you? Maybe it made you a better dancer. Perhaps surviving it helped you realise that you were stronger than you'd thought. Maybe it was a lesson in asking for support when you felt unable to speak up on your own behalf.

If you're going through something similar at the moment, think of all the different ways you can support yourself. It's easy to feel like a victim but there's much more to you than the part that's feeling victimised. Away from the stress, give it some more thought. Does this situation remind you of anything from your past? Maybe even childhood? Recognising that your past experiences are having an impact now can help take some of the sting out of the current situation.

If you feel unable, as Professor Cooper suggests, to have an adult, quiet, respectful conversation with someone you might feel a little scared of, ask yourself what would help you. Comparing yourself to colleagues and others who don't let things get to them is unlikely to help you feel better. The last thing you want to do is add to a bully's taunts with negative self-talk of your own.

If you can't summon up the stronger, more assertive, powerful parts of yourself immediately, imagine the bullying was directed towards a loved one, child or pet. You'd do everything possible to make it stop. Let yourself feel the power of indignation you'd feel if it weren't directed towards you. Now that you're feeling stronger, you can approach the person in a quiet, patient manner and discuss resolving things. You can support yourself. You're worth it.

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