How to Deal with Bullying in the Workplace

picture-9It is a weekday morning. You know you have to get out of your bed so that you won’t be late for work. But somehow, you can’t seem to be happy to begin the preparations for another day at the office. The thought of going there fills you with terror and apprehension. Perhaps, because one of your colleague or boss is bullying you at work. Unlike when you first resumed, now your present job is more like a chore to you. Merely thinking about it leaves your mouth dry and your heart racing.

If this scenario sounds like a typical work day for you, then you could be a victim of workplace bullying. Over time, this type of abuse in places of employment has become widespread. About 54 million people in the United States alone have reportedly faced mistreatment at their offices.

Bullying in the workplace is a repeated pattern of ill-treatment from others in the place of work. A bully could be someone in authority, your peers or even subordinates. The intention behind this act is mostly to threaten, intimidate and humiliate an individual into submission. Similar to cases of abuse, it feeds on the perpetrator’s need to control and wield power over others.

This sort of oppression is also called the silent epidemic. The reason is that most abusers scare their victims into keeping silent about their ordeal. Some of the signs carried out by the bully include shouting, name-calling, deliberately ignoring or avoiding someone, undermining a person’s work, purposefully excluding them from discussions or meetings, intentionally overloading them with work, isolating them from a group, etc.

It is no easy task trying to wage war against these adult bullies. In this article, we offer some recommendations to deal decisively with this menace.

Understand the Situation: Most times you may not recognize the signs of bullying. Familiarizing yourself with the clues is the first step in putting a stop to it. Know every information about the sort of abuse you are facing. Educate yourself on the policies of your organization concerning such appalling behavior. Doing this would give you a better chance of fighting this situation.

Do not Blame Yourself: Bullies are deeply insecure persons. Exerting control over others feeds their ego. Understand that the bullying is not as a result of your actions or inactions. It takes nothing to provoke a persecutor. It only indicates a character flaw in your abuser. Try not to undermine yourself or think you are incompetent. Keep your head up and remain confident.

Stay Calm: Bullies enjoy provoking their victims to lose their cool. Do not grant them that victory. Even though it might sound ridiculous, remain calm. Doing this helps you think rationally. It also has the added advantage of infuriating your abuser. Your tormentor would seek all means to get a reaction out of you. Try not to sink to their level.

Document all Incidences: A time might come when you will need to report the abuse to your superiors. Taking evidence with you could tilt the odds in your favor. So record your abuser’s name and the method of bullying. Try to be particular in your documentation, do not generalize. Ensure that locations, dates, time and names of any witness to the events are also logged in. Gather a lot of information as you possibly can.

Confront the Aggressor: This is understandably tough and scary. But until you set the rules, you will continuously be an easy target. Stand up for yourself and refuse to back down. Use a polite and professional tone while communicating with the bully. Avoid any chance to yell or trade words with him. Keep the conversation simple, straightforward and short. Ensure that you spell out your limits in clear and unambiguous terms. Hopefully taking this step will get the abuser off your back.

Have Witnesses: It is vital to have a support group that can corroborate your story. Whenever you have an encounter with the bully, let your co-workers know about it. If possible, have them write down their version of the incident. This piece should go into your file of evidence and be stored up for future reference.

Seek Help: Go to your supervisor or the HR department to make a report of the abuse. Make sure you go along with your proof gathered over time. It is important that you present your case as calmly as possible. Try to avoid theatrical displays because this could create an awkward conversation. Let your complaint be brief and straight to the point. Use all the damaging information at your disposal, so as to lay a strong case. Do not suggest ideas on how they can deal with the issue. The only exception should be when you are asked directly for advice. Give your evidence and allow them to arrive on the best course of action to take.

Follow Up: Do not go back to relax after you must have stated your case. Things do not get resolved that way. Ensure you follow up the issue with the personnel to whom you made the report. It is one of your rights as an employee. Keep on monitoring the matter till your complaint is settled. Only back off when you are satisfied with the outcome. If the disciplinary action taken is unfavorable to you, get your complaints to someone higher in authority.

Change Jobs: You cannot win all battles, no matter how hard you try. Accepting this fact is not a sign of weakness. If you have tried all you can and there is still no difference, move on. It is understandable if you choose not to be anywhere around the bully. Doing this does not mean he or she has won. It means you value yourself too much to be surrounded by negativity. Seeking for opportunities elsewhere is alright. Taking this step can give you a fresh outlook on life and work.

Take a Stand

You are entitled to make a living for yourself in an atmosphere devoid of harassment. Do not allow anybody trample on that right. It is not possible to wish away a bully’s behavior. But you can decide to take steps to see that they reap the rewards of their actions.

Photo Credit: Mindresources