Bullying – We can’t control the behavior directed towards us, only the behavior we return. If someone in the workplace is out to harm you with words or action, confrontation or public condemnation may make matters worse.
Take heart, there are things you can do!
Unless you work for yourself, chances are you’ve encountered a difficult person at work. Few things are worse than the feeling of dread that creeps in each time you have to interact with that certain someone who is routinely negative, critical, or even downright hostile. Except maybe if that someone is your boss.
There are those in authority who may closely watch others with the sole objective of exposing errors and correcting them. We know this as constructive criticism. But, sometimes the intensity with which they act and the delight they get from demoralizing you goes far beyond a critique of your work. It becomes a personal, venomous attack. You are being bullied.
How do you fight back when you’re dealing with bullying @work?
Victims of bullies can ultimately take action to affect the relationship and extricate themselves.
Action and Consequence:
- You can confront your boss who is bullying you ….. But it can also cost you your job.
- Band with others ….. But if you are a lone victim you now may have more to deal with than just your bully.
- You can tolerate it as if you are unaffected….. But this only validates the bully – you are agreeing to accept the abuse. More of the same only leads to more of the same.
- Endure each encounter. Don’t argue and end it as quickly as you can….. But it takes two to tango. The bully is apt to increase the bad acts and behavior to draw you in further.
- If there is an HR department, find someone with whom you can speak; if not, someone in authority….. Unless this is an aberration they are already aware of it. There may be some sanctioning and a short respite, but it may also continue.
- Go on record (in writing) that you have been bullied and harassed. Protect yourself from what might be if it continues….. But you may have also a created your “scarlet letter” that can follow in your search for the next position if and when it come to that.
I once heard said that many physical ills can be cured with the right diet.
Many mental disorders can be fixed with the right thinking.
Therefore, it seems logical to me that harmony in a relationship (in this case alleviating the bullying) can be achieved by ‘right acting’; so don’t despair just yet. The bottom line is that you have to behave differently – “right acting” – in order to change the behavior and ultimately break the pattern. Changing your behavior and that of others is not a “quick fix”.
It takes study, planning, and application over a period of time.
Quick Tip: Remind yourself that no one has the power to control how you feel. Negativity can be contagious, don’t allow yourself to get sucked in!
Breaking the Bullying Pattern…
The first step is to understand the bully’s viewpoint. It takes an open mind and a big heart, a VERY big heart, to view a situation through another’s eyes when h/she is you boss and wants to cause you hurt.
Nonetheless, this is where you begin.
Instead of an eye for an eye, we forge ahead and try to exchange a good deed for a bad one. Understanding, helping, forgiving, sympathy, patience…. these are all good deeds.
You can understand why this takes a very big heart, yes?
To understand a bully’s perspective, you need to first analyze the circumstances of your situation:
- What brought on the bullying in the first place?
- Was it “bullying” when the behavior first began?
- Was there a precipitating event in the company that may have brought on the first encounter?
- Did you do something to set the stage for the bullying?
- Are there signs that bullying may be an accepted practice in your workplace?
- What action or behavior direct, indirect or inadvertent might you have returned during an encounter that could have contributed to it?
Every situation is different so there’s no one question/answer or piece of advice that will work for everyone.
The answers to these questions and others are a good start to understanding.
Have “the conversation”…
The next step is to have a private conversation. Your body language is very important here. You are engaging in a conversation with someone who’s agenda is not a rational one but an emotional one, and as such feeds on weakness, fear, and despair. Acting submissive or apologetic just throws fuel on the fire. You may not be able to control what your boss might do but you can control what you do. Focus on what is, and not what might be and keep it short and concise. It can be as simple as this:
- Explain in fewer than 30 seconds how you feel
- Give him/her the benefits of the doubt and suggest that there may be a misunderstanding and you would like to correct it, and
- Ask for advice on how you might improve the relationship
- If this does not improve the situation, it’s best to start planning your exit strategy – no job is worth having a target on your back every day.
Your Options in a Nutshell:
1. Band together with others and make a case against the bully.
2. Take it to HR or in the case with there is no HR department, to “higher-ups” to either sanction or remove the bully.
3. Quit at the first sign you’re being victimized.
4. Have “that conversation”
5. Tolerate it as long as it takes you to get prepared to leave the company.
We understand that there may not always be others with whom you can (1) band, and (2) complaining to HR or other may only stoke the fire for in the end you still have to deal with the intrinsic behavior of an irrational and emotional mind so, I’m inclined to auto-nix Number 2, but I wouldn’t (3) quit just yet. Have (4) “that conversation”. If that doesn’t work, make haste with Number 5!