Are You Being Baited?


Baiting is a favorite tactic of bullies and toxic individuals. It’s one way that they get to play the victim, while making you look like the problem. They provoke you (lure you) through “joking around” or bullying , in hopes of getting you to react. If you react, in an emotional manner, they will use that to show everyone else that the problem is you and not them.

I have a former coworker who tried numerous times to bait me. He was successful on one occasion. But, most of the time, I refused to get lured in.

The first time that I realized that I was not dealing with someone who handled interactions, fairly, he and I had just had an interaction about company policy, where I tried to show him something that he had done incorrectly and walk him through how to do it properly, in the future. We spoke to one another politely and respectfully. I did not get the feeling that there was any animosity between us. Unfortunately, as I got off of my shift, that afternoon, with a number of customers within viewing and listening range, and as I was walking out of the door, he yelled, at the top of his lungs, “YOU ARE NOT MY BOSS!” Stunned and embarrassed, I just left the building. But, I tried to avoid dealing, directly, with him, in the future.

Once, he tried to bait me via a third-party; our boss. My boss actually came up to me, in his presence, and told me that this bully, portraying himself as my friend, had informed her that I was willing to give up some of my work hours, on one of the days that he and I had to cross paths. Initially, I was ready to freak-out and respond with, “This guy is not my friend! Why on earth would I be willing to give up some of my income to accommodate him? Why on earth would I give up money when I have bills to pay?!” Instead, I, calmly, pointed out to her that “I had specific tasks that needed to get done on those days (and nobody else was trained to do them). I didn’t know where the bully got the idea that I was willing to give up those hours, but he was most definitely mistaken.” She dropped the idea and it never came up, again. I decided not to face off with the bully, so as not to give him the satisfaction.

There were dozens more incidents of him trying to bait me, either directly or through third-parties, but the one time he actually got me to react, was after I had gotten really good at practicing Gray Rock (link: around him. I stayed out of his way and he stayed out of mine. But, some unknown reason, he walks onto the job site, with several customers within viewing and listening range, and addresses me, directly, in a condescending tone, by starting a statement with, “We’re all adults here, aren’t we?” If he said anything else after that, I didn’t hear it, because I flew into a rage. I started showing him the receipts regarding incidents where he proved, himself, to be childish. He tried to step up to me, to intimidate and silence me, but my partner, who was nearby, stepped in between us. My partner, being two-heads taller than the bully, got him to back down and silenced him. I was embarrassed that I had let him get the best of me, particularly since I had gone several weeks practicing Gray Rock, successfully.The bully never tried to bait me, again.

It was likely due to three reasons:

1) I practiced Gray Rock. If I did respond to his baiting, I typically did it calmly and professionally, regardless of his tone, towards me. This is likely why he initiated that last incident between us; to test my resolve.

2) I practiced No Contact. If I didn’t need to speak to him, I did not. I avoided eye-contact.

3) Just having one person (namely my partner) who could witness his bullying and report it to third-parties, meant that he would not be able to pretend that the bully was me.

He was not winning in his attempts to bully me, so he quit trying, because there was nothing for him to be gained from it (if he was trying to get me to quit: he failed, if he was trying to get me fired: he failed. I stayed around for two more years, after the last incident).

Baiting is despicable. In all honesty, if a bully or a toxic individual is breathing oxygen within earshot of you, be prepared for this destructive behavior.

This is when the gray rock method is SO important. If they cannot get a rise out of you, they will eventually give up because they can get no satisfaction from poking fun at your outbursts (if there aren’t any) and if you only address them in a respectful and professional manner, then they can’t run go tell anyone how rude and disrespectful you are to them. They can’t play the victim or the victor (telling people how they put you in your place for disrespecting them, for instance).

The gray rock method, in the workplace, is your best bet for minimizing baiting attacks towards you. But, there are a few other things that you can do to help stop baiting in its tracks.

1) Gray Rock. Keep your head down and your mouth closed. Once you discover that a coworker is a baiting you, defending yourself will make you a ready target for their continued abuse.

2) Breathe. Practice the 4-7-8 breathing method. If a toxic individual is pushing your buttons, before lashing out or defending yourself, try taking a deep breath, through your nose, for 4 seconds. Hold it for seven seconds. Then blow it out, slowly, for 8 seconds, through your mouth.

3) Keep your cool. If you must respond to baiting, remember, approach the attacks with a respectful tongue. Keep it professional/stay on topic. Keep your responses short and to the point. Walk away if you feel you are getting heated.

Other posts in the series:

On this site, I will continue sharing my experiences with a toxic workplace and offer advice, based on my own practices, on how to stick it out, if you can’t leave, right away. So watch this space, as I hope to make it a permanent feature.

Feel free to send email to with questions, comments, concerns or to share your own story or to get advice.

Published by Diva

Trying to live my best life, but chores keep getting in the way!

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