Standing Up to Trolls in the Workplace

A company, at its basic sense, is a group of people interacting day by day to produce a desired result. In those interactions, there is bound to be conflict. There ought to be a least one person that doesn’t want to see you succeed and actively tries to bring you down – I call those people "trolls". They can be nasty, frustrating and, unnecessarily suck energy from you but there are ways to crush them. Trolls are at every level of the organization and tend to target the most competent. Why? Because they are the most threatening to them and their progress. Power through….here is how:

•      Reframe the Behaviour: People tend to project what they carry inside of themselves onto the world around them. In most cases, the troll and the way the troll treats you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them, their own insecurities and the pain that they are feeling inside. For some reason you may be triggering an insecurity or have something that they want more or less of in their lives. When you have a rough day and are internally thrown off, are you more likely to explode on others for things that you otherwise won’t explode at? We all do this. How we perceive ourselves is what we project onto other people. These trolls are in pain and coming at it from a place of compassion versus taking the feedback personally can go a long way.

“Fill your brain with giant dreams so it has no space for petty pursuits.” ~ Robin Sharma

•      Be Real and Be Vulnerable: People relate to people that are like them – look like them, have similar challenges, goals and interests. Look for opportunities to find common ground with the troll and this includes vulnerabilities. People need to see that you are human and need to relate to you by understanding that you experience similar feelings, challenges, pains and frustrations. When you don’t know something, say it. When you have made a mistake, admit it and do everything that is within your control to fix it.

 •      Build your Network and Advocates: When you build relationships with key leaders and influencers in the company, the trolls tend to back away. The trolls see that you have supporters and advocates and naturally back off. Strengthening your level of support from leaders and influencers can go along way to reducing the trolls; they will have your back and anyone that trolls you will be put in their place very quickly.

 •   Set Limits on What you will Tolerate: Set boundaries and don't be afraid to speak up if these boundaries are violated. Have a conversation with the troll to communicate the unpleasant behaviour, how it impacts your work and clearly ask them to stop. If it persists, engage human resources as required.

Don’t allow a troll in the workplace to threaten your health, happiness or your career.

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