Kids that are bullies generally grow up to be adults who are bullies. This is why many people feel like going to work is comparable to their 4 years of high school. The problem with workplace bullying, however, is that it tends to be subtle and passive aggressive, so it can be overlooked, ignored, or dismissed by many, allowing the bully to leave a destructive path behind them.
There are ways you can stand up for yourself so you can stop the workplace bullying without being a bully in return. Which of these options could help you take control of your office environment?
#1. Take a step back.
Sometimes workplace bullying is excused because we feel like we’re being overly sensitive to a situation or someone triggers a defensive mechanism within us unintentionally. Misinterpretation of a comment or an action may not be bullying, but having someone single you out and intentionally try to harm you in some way is almost always bullying. Confirm first that you are seeing the situation accurately.
#2. Don’t be an easy target.
Bullies pick on easy targets because there isn’t much of a chance they will fight back. If you huddle in your office and allow the bully to tear you down, it’s just going to keep happening. Be polite, but also be firm, and tell the workplace bully that their actions are professionally unacceptable. Tell them they are being inappropriate. Stay calm, stay out of an argument, and set clear boundaries. Do that a few times in a row and most workplace bullies are going to leave you alone.
#3. Document everything.
If you don’t write something down, then it doesn’t really exist. If you have a workplace bully bothering you, then document the interactions you have with this person. Mention everything said and done, along with whatever your response happened to be. Note the date and time these things happen. If the workplace bully goes to your boss and tries to say that you’re conducting yourself inappropriately, this documentation becomes a way to protect your paycheck.
#4. Talk with an HR, union, or management representative.
Sometimes you might be seen as the easiest mark in the office for a workplace bully even when you do stand up for yourself. If you have your documentation in order, talk with a representative that will have your best interests at heart. Getting additional representatives involved won’t necessarily stop the bullying behavior right away, but it will give you some additional legal options if the situation should escalate for some reason because you’ve reported the situation.
#5. Change your environment.
Bullying that doesn’t stop will add a lot of stress to your life. If you’ve tried everything to stop a workplace bully and the situation continues on even when you’ve involved other representatives, then it is time to leave. Some might say that means you’re letting the bully win, but it’s more important to take care of your needs. Because you’re leaving due to bullying behavior, your documentation may also help you take legal action to protect your financial best interests.
Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is safe. If you are dealing with a workplace bully, then take these actions so it will eventually stop, one way or another. That way you can limit the stress you experience when it’s time to go to work.