Workplace Bullying: Making a Strategic Exit, Part 3

This is part three of a series on surviving workplace bullying. Have a read of part one Part 1 & Part 2 before reading further.

There is wisdom in standing up for yourself and also wisdom in knowing when to walk away. Remember that your mental, physical, and financial well-being is more important than your job and more important than proving you were right.

Before you leave have your plan B in place and a collection of references from your last job. Letters from superiors are best and letters from colleagues are useful if your superiors refuse. You may need a little time to clear your head, however, start looking for your next job quickly. Having a temporary job that might not be a 100% fit is easier to put on your resume than long gaps. Working in a new environment with a supportive culture may actually help you to recover from the psychological toll of your last job. It can be a good reminder that you’re actually good at what you do and can accomplish a lot when you are supported.

In the interview, be pre-emptive about why you left your last job. Your next employer will want to speak with your immediate supervisor. Be upfront and factual about what happened before they ask. Don’t focus on how difficult it was. Be factual and then state that your looking forward to being able to get back to focusing on the work. If you’re still angry about your last job state that you aren’t happy about happened but you have learned a lot from it. State at least one positive thing that you’ve learned from the experience and avoid being resentful or sarcastic. If your interviewer is experienced they will likely be aware that bullying does occur and will delve past the bullying to get a sense of you as a person and how well you would fit in the new role. Many human resource managers detest bullying as much as you do.

For many people, going through bullying can be one of the most stressful experiences of their career. Remember to gather your resources, recruit allies, have a plan B, know what your motivations are, and know when to walk away. It is unfortunate, but often true that the odds will be stacked against you. Know that you’re willing to put into your fight and what you’re not. From a broader perspective, this is only one aspect of your life. Face it with wisdom and courage but also remember what you value the most in your life.


1Bullying at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job, Second Edition (Namie & Namie, 2009).

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