Bullying in the workplace is sadly prevalent. As common as it is among younger children and teens, you always hope that by the time a bully becomes an adult, he or she will outgrow the tendency toward being mean and harassing others. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. If you're dealing with bullying in the workplace, these tips should help you cope with the situation without stooping to the bully's level.
You have to know the definition of bullying in the workplace. There's never any excuse to be mean to a coworker, and harassment has no place at the office. However, you just want to make sure you're being bullied. Sometimes it's tempting to ignore context, or to get hurt by what might simply be constructive criticism delivered in a not so gentle way. Always think about context, tone, and the person you're dealing with – but remember that you don't have to put up with any behavior that makes you uncomfortable.
Above all else, you have to stay calm. Bullies thrive on conflict, even in the workplace. If you react negatively or try to behave the same way, your bully's tactics will escalate. Stay calm and try to seem as indifferent as you possibly can, even if you have to vent to your support network later.
Although you shouldn't stoop to the bully's level by being mean or insulting in return, you shouldn't cower either. Some advice across the Internet encourages bullied victims to show their emotions, to cry, to demonstrate how hurt they are, but all too often bullies simply use that as extra ammunition. Bullies are glad when they hurt you, and while adults are more likely to feel ashamed of themselves at some point, you don't need to suffer more until then. Stand up straight, hold your own, and do not submit to bullying.
Whether you keep a notebook or a log on your computer, make note of every instance of bullying. Use as much detail as you can muster, include the date and time, and if anyone else saw you being bullied or experienced it themselves, write down their names too. You'll need this evidence later.
Although you shouldn't cower before your bully or mimic his or her behavior, feel free to call it out – preferably in front of others. When your bully puts down your work performance, your clothing choices, or anything else, say so. Tell the person, “You're being a bully. Your behavior is disrespectful and unprofessional.” That's kind of embarrassing, right? As a result, it might be enough to make your bully feel ashamed.
You know that log of information? Take it to your boss, or to HR. Your office has its own special protocol for reporting behavior like this, and you should take advantage of it. You'll be glad you documented all the details, and by speaking out, you can help keep someone else from suffering the same abuse.
No matter what, don't let your work bully bring you down. Keep doing your best at work, and keep being yourself. If you change, the bully wins – and besides, there's absolutely no merit to whatever nasty things he or she says. You're awesome.
Bullying is a problem for too many people. Adult bullies are even worse, so they should know better. Have you ever encountered a bully at work or at school? How did you deal with the issue?
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