Are you dreading to go to your workplace because of a certain individual, or multiple individuals? Do you think you are working with an office bully? Do you feel intimidated when in the presence of another coworker, or do you experience yells, they talk down at you during meetings, or they constantly criticize you?
Chances are that you have been on the receiving end of an office bully when you answer these questions in the affirmative. No one likes dealing with unpleasant people, and you might think you have left your bullying past in school – but you realize that adults are even worse bullies because it is so subtle, yet so powerful in its effects.
If your employer refuses to help you out, because chances are high that they will not – it is time to take action to deal with the workplace bully.
Bullies are everywhere
Data from the WBTI (Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute) show that 19% of Americans (about 60 million) have experienced bullying in various forms – humiliation, threats, work sabotage or verbal abuse. The percentage of people who are aware that it happens is much higher averaging about 61%.
Most bullies are unfortunately the bosses, especially if they are men. In addition, because of the stigma attached to bullying, and the fear that one does not want to expose the person, 29% of the victims choose to stay silent about their experiences, leading to depression, anxiety, panic attacks and loss of their job.
However, you need to keep in mind that office bullying is a problem you must address ion your own, no matter how difficult or awkward the situation may be. Otherwise, it may end up becoming a more difficult situation for others or for you. You cannot just dismiss what is happening and hope for the best – the behavior of bullies gets worse the longer you take to address it, just like a drug addiction that rehab centers such as AZ Recovery Village can help you with.
Dealing with the problem
Set your limits
When you set this limit in your mind, make sure you exercise your rights – tell the bully to stop the behavior, and stand up for yourself. If it helps, you can rehearse it in your mind with a friend to make you comfortable with responding.
When telling them to stop, make sure you are objective – do not say how the bullying makes you feel (meaningless commentary that is unrelated to the job), simply inform them that it is interfering with your job, and tell them that you will not keep up with that behavior in future.
If the behavior persists, it is good to take up confrontation as a last resort – do not allow them to get away with that behavior.
Confront them with their own behavior
Let us be honest – every time you are forced to confront a bully, it is a scary situation. However, remember something important – bullies are only effective in one situation, which is being on solid ground. That means that you can remove that solid ground and make them stop.
For instance, when they are yelling at you because of a mistake you made in your job, calmly tell them that you will speak to them when they have calmed down, and leave the room. If it is over a phone call, you can hang up.
The point here is remerging that you are an adult who is dealing with a tantrum. Wise parents do not coddle their children or give in to their fits, because that leads to more fits. Bullies just want to get a rise out of you, so refuse to engage with them or give them room to attack you more. Make sure that you call out the bully on your conditions, and refuse to allow them to ruin your work or your reputation.
Note their actions
When you feel as though you are going through bullying behavior, note it down – document the time, date and details. If another employee has seen the occurrence, note it down too.
You will eventually need this information when seeking help from the HR department, and they will assist you on that. After all, the bully is not only sabotaging your career growth, but also are sabotaging the growth of the business or brand as well.
Are your co-workers targets too?
It is also important to know whether the bully targets your coworkers as well. When they can, inform them to note any bullying incidences and whether they see it happening in other instances as well.
This will help in building a solid case against the bully – when reporting them to HR or the other senior management officials, they can deal with the bully effectively. It can also help with evidence if you decide to take the bully to court. This is increasingly common, despite the low historical prevalence of employees suing their organizations or co-workers – mostly due to the increasing prominence of office bullying.
In addition, if you end up in the situation of employment termination or physical threats from the bully, this evidence will be helpful in suing them and bringing them to justice.
Inform the management about the behavior of the bully
If facing up to the bully is not helping, it is time to get external help. Ensure you report the behavior to the HR department, or go to the senior management.
Make sure you show them the impact the bully is having on the business and the brand itself, and file formal complaints as required. In all of this, always hope for the best conclusion to the problem, but also be aware of other options you can explore in case it fails to go through.
Part of those options may involve resigning from your job and moving somewhere else, for peace of mind. Sometimes, getting away from the bully is the best option for your safety, especially if they threaten you after you file a complaint.
Dealing with bullies is generally not an easy thing – they are intimidating, and your self-esteem may be too low to deal with them. However, you need to face it head on, and that means you take measures to ensure it does not happen again.
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