Updated: Jul 7, 2022
And you thought you only had to deal with bullies in school, college or your playground? Wake Up! – Welcome to the Workplace and Workplace Bullying.
Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t limit itself to just school, college or our playground. Once a bully, always a bully, unless the person has learnt a lesson and has willingly changed. Sad but true, workplaces more often than not, also have their share of bullies. In a national survey, the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 19% of adults said they’d personally been bullied at work, while another 19% said they’d seen it happen to someone else.
When you are a child and are bullied, many times the parents or teachers, step in and sort things out. Once you start working, it is not easy to complain about any kind of mental torture or bullying at workplace. This can harm both your mental and physical health - causing various ailments, namely stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues, and more. It is not only damaging, but also robs one the freedom of being happy and enjoying one’s work.
Who is a Bully?
There is only one answer. They are Big Ugly Lonely Losers yearning for attention.
Know the types of Bullies you could encounter at your workplace. Proceed with care. Don’t let these losers steal your peace of mind. Here’s how you can spot them and deal with them effectively.
The Aggressive Communicator What do bullies represent? A yelling, cussing, throwing his or her weight around, insensitive jerk. These type of bullies like to bring attention to themselves by creating public scenes and throwing their weight around. They do this to instill fear in their co-workers, who are mostly people who want to maintain peace, or might be terrified of speaking up for fear of becoming the bully’s next target.
The Humiliation Expert A person who will constantly criticize and humiliate every little thing a team member or employee does. These bullies normally are in a senior position like the boss, or team lead. They also make sure their juniors are never given credit for any of their successes. They do this especially to people they don’t like or have a grouse against. They know they are in a senior position and will be believed. Ultimately, if not dealt with, they are able to wear the person down, so much that, either the person resigns or is sacked due to low performance.
The Manipulator Such bullies are very commonly found. They are the twin of the humiliation expert bully and many times go hand in hand. Their target: They bully people they don’t like or have a grouse against. They manipulate their targets by withholding resources – possibly instructions, information, time, or help. Such bullies set you up to fail and once you do they create such a fuss around it that you seem incompetent to others. They might give you a poor performance review, even though your work might have been good quality. They pull you up for small incidents in front of others to create a projection of poor quality work and indiscipline. They do this only with one intent – to prevent you from doing your job, get fired or get a bad name.
The ‘Backstabber’ Such bullies come in the form of a dear colleague or a well-wisher colleague. Such bullies are very difficult to detect. Their true colors come out only once the deed is done. They are back stabbers. These are bullies who pretend to be your friend and well-wisher, who at the same time, is devaluing you and controlling your reputation with others. These people are clever and often ask the other person to keep their discussions confidential or secret. They are slow poison, and totally unreliable. Eventually the truth comes out, but by then a lot is lost.
Methods to handle a Bully at Work
Introspect First find out if there are any ways you might be contributing to the bullying situation. Check if it is a one-time situation and if your behavior might have contributed in some way. If yes, then consider letting it go and moving on.
Taking Action Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are being bullied. It is not an easy task, but project a bold stance. Address the issue head on and show you are not afraid and know how to deal with it. Understandably, if the bully is the boss or someone in a position of power, then one's livelihood could be at stake. But it’s a choice one has to make. Either deal with it and show the bully his place or lose your confidence and mental stability by listening to constant insults and ongoing bullying, which can soon leave a negative impact on your overall well-being and performance at work.
Bring to the notice of a Senior or HR It is important to bring this behavior to the notice of a Senior or your HR. Discuss it with your colleagues and take advice. Garner support and plan of how you are going to address the bullying concern and come up with possible solutions that will not have high impact on productivity but at the same time will allow you to take a stand for yourself.
Document all of it and create Witnesses This is important. Always document everything as it relates to your interactions with the bully. Document everything in detail. This not only provides a timeline of events, but will also help you recall information more easily when needed. For e.g. If a bully is trying to put you down or throwing allegations about you not completing your work, you can ask for written confirmation and details that he or she will have to own up to when questioned. Garner support from fellow team members. Include them in such conversations. Any kind of proof or witnesses scares bullies. They will soon realize it is not so easy to cow you down and will back away. But even then always be alert.
Bullies more often know their worth in the organization. They are often high performers who could bring in huge profits or create winning strategies for the organization. The company therefore, would go a long way to keep them happy. Some bullies may be relatives of the boss or ingratiate themselves with their superiors. Hence, instead of being held accountable for their bullying behavior, they might be getting rewarded with praise, raises, or promotions. They are more often considered to be the star of the team.
Although difficult, please know this, when you speak up and take a stand for yourself, it empowers others to do the same. Slowly a culture of ‘no bullying’ takes birth in the organization making it a happy place for all employees to work in.
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