Targets of persistent workplace aggression experience a great deal of emotions and stress at their place of employment. They are regularly the victim of vicious attacks by one or more of their colleagues. This is very demeaning and disparaging. They have more than likely complained about the persistent workplace aggression without avail. Thus, leaving the target feeling more disempowered.  As such, there is a great temptation for targets to participate in workplace aggression themselves. To “get back” at the aggressors and bystanders by being aggressive is in fact very empowering. At times, this behavior feels good to targets because all other course of action has been unsuccessful in stopping the persistent workplace aggression.

As a target, I fell prey to this temptation and did display workplace aggression in response to being targeted by my co-workers and supervisor. I would occasionally send an unprofessional email, make a snide remark, or roll my eyes when the aggressor or a bystander was talking. It certainly did not resolve the issue, but in the moment, I felt I had some power and control. Although it gave me temporary satisfaction, it certainly did not work in my favor or improve the situation. I may in fact have made it worse by allowing myself to stoop to their level. This made it harder for me to justify my grievances about the persistent workplace aggression that I was experiencing since now the aggressor could also point to my own bad behavior.

I strongly encourage targets to resist the temptation at all costs to participate in workplace aggression. Targets should not lower themselves to the level of the aggressor. This type of behavior can and will be used against the target by the aggressor(s) and/or bystanders. Given the dynamic of the work culture, this type of behavior puts the target at greater risk for retaliation, increased aggression, and supervisory discipline. Targets need to develop strategies or scripts that they can immediately use when the temptation to react aggressively occurs.

Targets do not have to react in the moment.  There is power in maintaining a high quality of professional behavior and doing what is right in the workplace.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.



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