Picture this: You’ve worked hard to prepare for an important meeting: researching the data, studying the numbers, and compiling notes. Come meeting day, you open your mouth to make your first point when your co-worker jumps in—speaking louder than you. When you finally do get a word in, your boss corrects your numbers, puncturing your confidence like a deflated balloon. You feel your enthusiasm diminishing and you withdraw from the table, feeling like you don’t have anything of value to contribute, or that there’s simply no use in trying.

This is not an unusual scenario. While the specifics may vary, everyone faces situations such as this that threaten their confidence in the workplace. Oftentimes, these behaviors come as a result of what we refer to at ACI as “Bonehead Behaviors”: Thoughtless, destructive behaviors that put your confidence on the line. But while these behaviors may indeed threaten your confidence, they absolutely don’t need to derail it.

We’ve compiled 3 of your most important questions regarding these Bonehead Behaviors—and our advice about what to do when confronted with them—to maintain your kickass confidence.
What are the most common “Bonehead Behaviors?”

These behaviors can take many shapes and forms, but some of the most recognizable include: Someone interrupting or speaking over another person, being indifferent by acting detached and disinterested in what’s going on (i.e. texting or looking at their phone while you’re talking), gossiping, or correcting someone else (a.k.a acting like the “smartest person in the room”).
Why do these behaviors occur in the first place?

If you look at the behaviors we’ve listed above, you can see that they all have one thing in common: They all serve to make the “Bonehead” feel bigger and someone else feel smaller – definitionally bullying. This is because they originate from a place of insecurity. At our core, we all fear failure, regret, and rejection—it’s human nature. So when our brains feel one of those impending threats seeping in, it’s natural to act in a more impulsive, emotional way that our brains believe will help us reclaim safety and security. Just as nervous fidgeting, avoidant eye contact, and closed off behaviors can be signs of insecurity, so too can these “Bonehead Behaviors” indicate insecurity—on the opposite side of the spectrum.
How can I navigate around these behaviors?

There are strategies you can employ to maintain your confidence in the face of these Bonehead Behaviors. The first step is recognizing that these behaviors are stemming from a place of insecurity, and therefore often have nothing to do with you. We call this “labeling” and it’s a tool that can help you nip anxiety and insecurity in the bud by shaking it off, rather than internalizing it. So, before you start spiraling into a loop of self-doubt when someone dismisses what you have to say (“I’m not interesting”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I don’t know what I’m talking about”), label their bully, insecure behavior for what it is—an attempt to assert control over a situation (and often a reflection of their insecurity)—and move on with your own confidence stable and intact.

Check out our Real Confidence podcast for more cool confidence content
Special thanks to Elior Moskowitz for her research and editorial contribution to this post.