A shocking number of the workforce have experienced workplace bullying. I have heard so many stories of mean girls and jerks. What helped me deal with a bully? Feeding the right wolf and having the right mindset.

I have worked for different companies over the years but I will never get used to the whole job-hunting and application process. You go out there putting your best foot forward only to realize that most of the time it’s still not enough. I also have this thing about landing the same position when in fact, I have been there and have done that. I was always on the lookout for better offers in terms of compensation and benefits not to mention the more appealing corporate titles. Money was a factor, yes, but it was also because of pride. I wanted my peers to respect me and I wanted my boss to trust me. That is only possible if you have bigger responsibilities, right? Or so I thought but we’ll get to that.

So yes, my mindset was to always aim for that next designation and accomplishment even with the knowledge that I will and I am going to meet people who are downright rude and disrespectful along the way. What mattered to me was to get the job and I did. I was ecstatic.

I can still remember how excited I was on my first day of work. The company was a well-known employer and I was so determined to reach my full potential with them. My new role was equally exciting.  No more repetitive nor menial tasks – finally! I was so positive and confident to the point that I was blowing my horn.

It worked at first. You see, I love my job and did I mention that I was confident? Mind you, it’s a winning combination. It can take you to places and it took me to some.

Places that benefited me. Surprised me. Hurt me. And changed me.

Benefited me.

Meeting different people of the same wavelength, interests, opinions, and ambitions is empowering. It was wonderful to know the many struggles they had to face just to be where they are now. There are so many stories about money, relationships, and personal issues and how the choices they made either helped them or break them. It was uplifting to know that I was not alone.

Surprised me.

It’s funny how people can inspire and disappoint you at the same time. There’s this office clerk who was so nice and helpful but was also spreading gossip like wildfire. Not to mention the friend I’d like to share lunch with turned out to be someone toxic. The bully who laughs at the newbie and a cutthroat who allows no one to get in her way. They say that how you treat people is who you are. It made me wonder if I am starting to mirror what they are.

Hurt me.

You’ll never know the real story unless you experience it. I was so focused on climbing my way up the corporate ladder that I failed to notice the many others who were with me on this journey. Workplace conflict has become a daily thing and people are becoming disrespectful and mean. Bullies seem to thrive as well. It’s as if the only way for me to survive is for me to be a bully myself. I started to think of ways on how to get even. Like a cycle with no end and it’s sickening. It made me anxious, exhausted, and downhearted. Work has become a burden and the once positive environment I was in has turned cold, dark, and dreadful even. I hated it so much that I wanted to run away. Again.

Changed me.

People can be difficult but they are beautiful too and something wonderful happens when you focus on the latter. Besides, you can always choose whether you want to carry on or change course. Did I mention that I love my job? Loving my job involves hating it just as much. My feelings and frustrations are glaring signs that I care and I was far from giving up. I told myself that I can’t just go through the motions and survive the day. I need to pause, reassess and think things carefully.

So I did.

I realized that I can inspire, surprise, and disappoint people just the same. I hated bullies but my reaction when a coworker failed to deliver showed that I was impatient. I hated foul words and curses but I was shooting daggers at someone in my head. I do not like gossip-mongers but I was all ears when a certain story was confirmed even though it was none of my business. I was getting tired of my subordinates when I wasn’t even sure if I had been understanding and kind enough to them.

The key to surviving the corporate jungle despite the monkeys and the monsters is by having the proper mindset and the right work ethics. It will never be easy because I am a monkey and I can be a monster myself. But when someone starts a fire in an attempt to destroy the jungle, one can choose whether to fight it with fire or extinguish it. I choose the latter. And I don’t need a position nor a title to succeed.

When everyone else is failing, I should call it upon myself to be the better person. There will be detours and roadblocks along the way but I love my job and for as long as I feed the right wolf within, I can always strengthen the part of me I hope to win. My confidence should not come from my position or my abilities. It should come from the fact that no matter how challenging people can get and how difficult situations can be, we are all grown-ups here who should act like one – focused and driven, but   respectful and kind.  Grown-ups who allow each other room to breathe and a spot to thrive.