Work Life Hacks: Be a Survivor, Not a Victim.

Workplace Issue: Why are some people better able to cope with being treated poorly, while others carry that hurt with them for years?

Several years ago, I conducted research to determine why some people were able to cope with the experience of being bullied at work, while others simply could not overcome the mistreatment. My research resulted in the Theory of Enlightened Transformation, which determined five behaviors that separate victims from survivors.

Survivors possess self-confidence. They know that what happened to them does not define who they are or what they can accomplish. Victims continue to search for reasons they were treated poorly and wonder if they did something to warrant this. Survivors become advocates for others, as they reach out and ask, “How can I help?” Conversely, victims look to others for help, but they try to change the other person. Survivors realize they do not have the power to change others, and they cannot change what happened to them. Their power comes from changing their reaction to the situation, and they strive to let go of blame and anger. Finally, instead of seeking revenge for the person who hurt them, survivors tend to develop empathy for the other person.

Moving from victim to survivor does not mean condoning the bad behavior of others. However, practicing enlightened transformation allows us to not only survive, but also to thrive.

About the Author:


Dr. LaVena Wilkin has served as Sullivan University’s Ph.D. Program Director since June 2013. She holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and is certified as a mediator, conflict coach and employee engagement facilitator. Dr. Wilkin is the editor of the Journal for Conflict Management, co-author of a book entitled Organizational Conflicts: Challenges and Solutions and a regular contributor to Louisville Business First newspaper. Her articles on employee engagement originally appeared in Business First’s “Consult the Experts” column.

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