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Beat them at their game

india Updated: Jun 27, 2010 00:30 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

If life worked this way that the louder you raised your voice, the more right you became, all we would ever need for success is an mplifier. Thankfully, it doesn’t work that way. And that’s what I want to tell this week to Ranjan Sahu, who wrote to me about the stress that’s taking the life out of him. ‘I’m stressed as hell,’ says Ranjan, who works in a publishing house. ‘There’s this guy in my office who is a big bully. He cuts me in the middle of meetings to put forth his point aggressively. He’s so loud and intimidating. What’s worse, he also spreads malicious gossip about my personal life, behind my back.”

Now Ranjan, why does that sound so familiar to a lot of us? Because almost everyone has come across such bullies in their work life (in fact, in school and college, too). These are people who live with the theory that they can shout their way through life and emerge winners. The truth, however, is that there are no bigger losers than bullies. It is because of their insecurity that they try and gain an artificial sense of power by trying to intimidate others.

Many years back, I had a colleague who, apart from thinking that he is God’s gift to this planet, also took immense pleasure in pushing around co-workers and coercing them into agreeing with him on everything. People generally avoided debating a point with him during meetings, as he could turn anything into an unpleasant argument. In one such meeting, however, a newly-joined co-worker — a rather timid looking girl — got into a disagreement with him over an issue. The moment this guy, true to his habit, raised his voice, complete with swear words and loud hand gestures, the girl got up, stood tall to her five-feet humble frame, walked up to him, looked him straight in the eye and in a measured, firm tone said, ‘I want you to stop shouting…NOW’. While we got busy with picking up our jaws that had dropped to the ground, this man, completely taken aback by the woman’s firm stand, quietly picked up his file and walked out. We enjoyed the pleasure of not hearing his voice for days to come.

So my friends, if you feel tense and threatened by someone at your workplace who’s coward enough to hide behind an aggressive façade, here are some calmness tips.Remember that nothing annoys bullies more than not getting any reaction from their target. So, if you act detached and don’t show them you’re hurt, you will beat them at their game.At the right moment, catch the bully off guard by confronting him or her in clear and firm words. Don’t argue or explain, just tell them that their attitude is unacceptable and they must stop.

Ignore the bully and his/her yelling. Just walk away from the argument with your head held high and say ‘we’ll resume this conversation when you’ll return to sanity’. That is sure to irritate the hell out of them. Be aware of your rights to complain about intimidation or the constant negative attitude of a certain person to your superiors. Finally, pat yourself on the back each time you take on a bully, since it is not really a walk in the park to give it back to an obnoxious person in their own game.

Eleanor Roosevelt had once said, “No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.” So, why let any insecure, inept moron in life give you stress? Think about it. Sonal Kalra once confronted a person who she thought was bullying others. The wimp burst into tears and complained to HR. The bully got sympathy and the bullied got a warning. Such is life. Send your calmness tricks to her at sonal.kalra@hindustantimes.com.

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