Is Your Workplace A Lion’s Den? – Outsmart The Office Bullies

office bullying, workplace, career, iamicareer

A lion’s den, probably the number one place you would not want to find yourself. I am definitely not a lion or wildlife expert; however, I do know that lions usually live in groups that are called ‘prides’. And each pride protects its own territory. Therefore, being trapped in a threatening situation is often described as a lion’s den; an unpleasant situation where a group of people turn against an individual (or trespasser).

How does this apply to your workplace?

A workplace that’s described as a lion’s den does not necessarily have anything to do with the employer or the company. However, it speaks of the people or certain cliques that have developed over time. For example, you might be working for a great company, but are facing the following issues:

  • You feel extremely uncomfortable around a specific group of colleagues
  • You feel like your colleagues have teamed up against you
  • You’re having difficulties being productive due to the current work environment.

The typical lion’s den ‘work environment’ is often created by a group of individuals who have formed their own little territory. When you’re perceived as someone who does not fit in that particular group, you are often faced with a lot of challenges, when dealing with these types of colleagues.

So… if you’re in this kind of situation, how do you survive? Well, let’s look at the story of someone who lived this out.

The story of Daniel

Daniel was a successful man appointed as administrator, with two other colleagues, over 120 provincial governors in the Persian Empire. According to his story, Daniel distinguished himself among all his colleagues. He had exceptional qualities, so the King (his employer) at that time, King Darius, planned to set him as head over the whole kingdom.

When Daniel’s colleagues heard of this, they felt jealous and teamed up against him. They sought many ways to negatively influence Daniel’s job and work. To cut a long story short, Daniel found himself thrown into a lion’s den, due to his colleagues’ jealousies and false accusations against him (Daniel 6: 1-28).

Using this story, as an illustration, here’s what you can learn from being trapped in a similar situation:
You can’t escape the haters

Not everyone is happy with your success at work.

You’re talented, good at your job and extremely hardworking; no doubt you’re standing out at your job. However, standing out will not always work in your favour. Let’s face it. Not everyone is happy with your success at work. In fact, not many people are grounded enough to see you thrive, while they remain at the same level in life and career. Also, choosing to be different in the workplace has its sacrifices. For example, if your colleagues like to gossip and you’re not the type that joins in, you eventually become a threat. You can’t escape it!

They are going to talk, a lot!

The gossiping, backbiting and lies, you’ll have to accept that this is what you’re going to be faced with. The truth is you can’t control what other people choose to do. Luckily, what you do have control over is your own behaviour. The sooner you accept that people are always going to talk, whether good or bad, the easier it is to outsmart them.

You have to master your emotions

One of the most crucial things you would have to learn is to master your emotions. You can’t afford to give in to how the situation makes you feel. Most of the time jealous colleagues act based on their agenda, and this might be to make you feel uncomfortable. They will definitely try to push your buttons – Don’t let them win.

You have to keep calm to gather (enough) evidence

In Daniel’s story, there’s one characteristic that proved his innocence. He knew when and how to stay silent. He never took ‘an eye for an eye’ approach. However, in due time he finally spoke up. Daniel answered, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” (Daniel 6:22).

So what am I trying to say? Don’t confront these types of colleagues with the goal to ‘show them who they’re messing with’. They are actually ‘skill full’ in playing these types of games. Don’t become prey to their schemes.

The best advice I received when faced with this kind of situation was to keep a record of everything that was happening. One day they will make a mistake, and that will be the right time to speak up.

Speak to your manager or HR department

Based on the info you gather, speak to your manager or HR department. Make sure that the info you give is actually factual. The ‘they did and I feel’ complaints don’t make the situation any better. In fact, it only makes it worse. Again, here’s where keeping a logbook and evidence is crucial and will put you in a favourable position.

Please note: If your privacy has been invaded or you’ve been faced with physical abuse in the workplace, don’t wait, report this immediately.

Sarah Johnson

Sarah is Founder and Editor of IAMICareer. She currently holds a BA of Commerce and has a strong background in Marketing. Sarah is passionate about seeing millennials thrive in career and the workplace and is dedicated to helping millennial women bridge the gap between university and the corporate world.