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How to build confidence to stand up for yourself


Are you dealing with a difficult situation in the dental office? Learn how you can take action.

"Dear Lisa,

"I am sick and tired of being bullied and harassed at work. It's so unbelievable that bullies continue to torment their victims into adulthood. I thought it was bad when I was a child, but this is worse. What I do know is that I'm sick and tired of being a punching bag for hostile, nasty cracks from my co-workers.

"Standing up for myself isn't something I'm good at. I tend to stay quite and hope that I'll be ignored, but that doesn't happen. Instead, I'm ridiculed and made fun of not just behind by back but to my face."

Are you dealing with a similar situation? Nobody thinks that he or she is a bully. In my experience, bullies feel very justified that they aren’t doing anything wrong. Sometimes they were bullied themselves as kids and survived by developing the skills of intimidation and harassment. Then there are the victims who just get picked on. How am I supposed to tell my kid how to deal with the bully when I can’t even do it on the job? Doesn’t that make YOU stop and think? What a mess!

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The way to develop confidence so that you can handle these issues is to take action. I’m not talking about confronting the bully initially. Instead, think about what you can do to start to believe in your own self-worth. This isn’t mumbo-jumbo therapist talk; it’s simple.

Taking steps to feel better about yourself is where it starts. For some, it’s losing weight. For others, it might be taking on new responsibilities not necessarily in the workplace. Get involved with a nonprofit or an organization like Girl Scouts, PTA, a homeless shelter, Little League, community theater, or a women’s networking organization. The more leadership roles you take on, the more you’ll have to deal with life and the personalities of a whole slew of people. Face it, there are politics in everything you do. The key is to learn how to handle yourself as a confident adult. That will prepare you for dealing with your bully.

When my daughter was young, I got really fed up with an organization I was involved with. I stood up for myself, and then decided that I really didn’t want to be a part of that organization. I told a friend about the situation, who encouraged me to become the president of our congregation at synagogue. It was a brilliant move. By running an organization and dealing with all the personalities within it, I was forced to come out of my shell and stand on my own two feet. We would have more than 100 people at all our events and I had to work the room. This meant going up to each adult, welcoming them and developing a rapport with them. Sometimes I had to do unpleasant things, but I did them. The importance of my role was more important than my shyness.

My point is this: take your anger, frustration and stress and do something constructive with it.

Another idea is taking up a hobby and getting good at it. Have pride in what you do! My vice is baking. I LOVE to bake amazing desserts. If a dessert doesn’t come out perfect, then I don’t serve it. That may make me sound like a bit of a perfectionist, but the truth is that I feel good about myself when people “ooh and aah” over something I’ve baked. The question here is what makes you feel good about yourself? Whatever it is (barring illegal activities) do it!

You know what makes you happy. You know what makes you proud of yourself. The real secret is this: you don’t need the accolades from others. You just need to give them to yourself.

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If you need help to figure this out, then ask for assistance. There are a million and one organizations everywhere that are geared toward empowering women. If you don’t have one in your small town, then start a mastermind group. This is a group of people who meet on a regular basis, perhaps monthly, and help you to achieve your goals. Imagine getting 30 minutes a month to have three or four peers give you what you need. Perhaps it’s to talk about the bullying. Maybe it’s to role play how you can handle the situation. You can practice asking for a raise from your boss in a safe place. This is a group of people who are making a commitment to each other to help you achieve your goals. If you’re interested in starting a mastermind group, email me at diana2@discussdirectives.com and I’ll send you a link how to get started.

The point is this: bullying doesn’t stop on its own. YOU must stand up to the bully, but to do that YOU need to feel better about yourself. I know it sounds like a Catch-22, but it isn’t. You can do this! You might need to go see a professional counselor to work with you. You might want to talk to your supervisor about it. But in the end, I believe that you can change your life. You can’t change another person directly, but you better believe that you can change yourself. The ripple effect changes others and those situations. I believe in you. Don’t you think it’s time you did too?

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