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    4 ways to deal with a workplace bully

    Standing up to a bully can seem intimidating, but it could drastically improve your work environment.

    Do you ever feel bullied at work? Is there someone on the team that is constantly targeting you? Perhaps it’s the employer themselves, and it appears that they treat other team members differently. Do you cower or relent when treated that way? Guess what, this isn’t high school, and it’s time to fight back at the bully.

    You don’t have the right to be treated as a target, and this may sound blunt, but it’s time to build up your confidence. You see, bullies like to seek out the ones they see as weak.

    Related reading: Do you have a dental practice bully?

    I have seen this several times in practices, and in my early days as a novice dental assistant, it happened to me. I knew it was going to be a chronic issue unless I did something about it. Bulking up your confidence level isn't going to develop overnight, so don’t get discouraged! It can be somewhat unsettling at the thought of actually sticking up to your boss, but you may be surprised that you may gain some respect!

    First, and this may sound cliche, but look people in the eye, stand tall and be conscious of your body language. If you slouch, look away or downward, that’s a sign of submissiveness. Nervous habits such as biting your nails and being fidgety makes you look apprehensive.

    Second, just because you may be lower on the pay scale, or perhaps spent less time in school than your teammates, doesn’t mean you should be shown disrespect. You are a valuable member of the team and bring your own unique qualities to the practice. Ask the intimidator what qualities will be beneficial to them and the practice; this shows you are confident in yourself, and it shows them that you genuinely want to help the patients and practice.

    Third, speak with eloquence and enunciate your words well. If you struggle to get your thoughts through clearly, it’s a sign of self-doubt.

    Fourth, “interview” the intimidator. Tell them that you feel targeted, and ask what you could do to improve the situation. If they are responsive and tactful, they will be receptive to your questions. If they are disrespectful and castigate you, then they aren’t someone you want to be employed by or as a teammate.

    Related reading: 4 tips for handling conflict in the dental practice

    Lastly, confidence doesn’t mean exhibiting a big ego or bad attitude. Have confidence with humility; you ARE a valuable member of the team, but arrogance will negate your good qualities.

    So start walking tall and remember, don’t take any ridicule from anyone!

    April Sluiter, EFDA
    Sluiter began her dental assisting career back in 1996. She has written industry articles and web content, and teaches dental assisting ...


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