Handling a workplace bully can be tough – but it seems to be a pretty common problem. A 2011 survey by CareerBuilder found that 43% of women have reported workplace bullying, and most didn’t know how to deal with it. Who do you ask for help with handling a workplace bully when you are the adult? Here’s the top tips on dealing with a bully at work…
The signs of bullying can be confusing, and they can easily be mistaken for just having a poor mood, or a difficult co-worker. Typically, though, bullying is frequent and consistent, but a bad day isn’t. Bullying can take many forms, from yelling to intimidating or humiliating behavior, angry criticism, personal insults, vicious gossip or even taking credit for someone else’s work. Even things like a quick glare or obviously turning away to talk to someone else can be bullying behavior. The first step in handling a workplace bully is to acknowledge that they are one.
If you think you are being bullied, your first response will probably be to get upset. That’s totally normal, but it’s not helpful. Staying calm and rational has two main benefits: it doesn’t give your bully a reaction, and it puts you in a better position to deal with the problem. Try to look calm and professional, even if you feel like screaming.
There has been a whole host of studies into workplace bullying, and all of them conclude the same thing: bullying is a projection. It’s a problem with the bully, not the victim, and the bully is trying to win by playing a manipulative mind game. Don’t lose confidence, or decide that you must be incompetent; you are not. Keep your cool, because it’s the bully with the issues.
Think about the people in your office that you could go to for support. Being friends with your co-workers can give you release and make you feel happier at work, and an approachable, friendly boss is always a bonus. Friends from outside of work that can talk to you and help you relax will also be beneficial. Talk to people, and you’ll feel much better.
From glares to snide comments and criticisms, keep a journal of everything. Note down times, what happened and who witnessed it, and keep it somewhere safe, ideally not at work! It’ll be invaluable if you report the bullying to HR, because they’ll have a log of various incidents to work through. Keep any emails or notes that support your case.
Bullying can have a big effect on your self-esteem, and even stop you from looking after yourself. Exercise is an excellent release, and will help your body get rid of stress. Eat well, and try to get a good night's sleep. Don’t be afraid to seek out counseling, either, or investigate whether your work offers mental health services.
Don’t keep the bullying to yourself. Get help with handling a workplace bully, and speak to someone. A mentor, advocate, experienced friend, union advisor or legal advocate are great ideas, and they’ll help you formulate a plan to approach HR. Speaking to your boss can be a great way to get support in the short-term, too, and they may be able to tell you about the company's bullying policies.
Finally, remember that handling a workplace bully is tough. It can take time, and being bullied sucks. Be kind to yourself, and seek help if you need it. Speak to people, and confide in friends. You will come through this okay! Have you got a tip on handling a bully? Please share it with me!
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