It is a well-known feat that everyone of us can fall victim to bullying at work. Nowadays, as many as 16% of employees are being harassed! In many cases by colleagues, but most often (64%) by managers, which unfortunately is no surprise. One example is that employees who return after a long illness are confronted with it, but mostly without a real reason. Another one is the person with a slight disability, who gets pestered. And there are many others. However, there is hope. You can fight back against bullying by learning how to deal with bullies at the work floor by following the 7 steps below and save yourself or a colleague from these low-life harassment types.
What drives bullies?
In order to fight harassment, it is important to know more about the psychology behind the phenomenon. A science that will surprise you. What a bully really moves for example, is important to know. It can have 2 causes in most cases: it has either to do with control or a threat.
Control. Bullies have an urge to keep other people under their control because things in their private life are not under their control. Psychologists call this sublimation. Like a person who is not in the private situation to give much love and care and compensates by becoming a nurse.
Threat. A bully can feel threatened by someone’s position, which can mean direct competition, or even by a strong character. He knows that he is not better or smarter than the other and tries to gloss that over by denigrating and bullying the other person. And that usually happens in a very ingenious way, because bullies are often the smarter, higher educated creatures who execute the bullying secretly and cunningly.
What is bullying about?
Bullying at work goes much further than teasing a colleague. The pester wants to obstruct and harm someone with his actions. Think of someone ignoring you, exaggerated gossip about you or humiliation and laughing at a colleague. In bullying there is always an unequal relationship. Hence bosses form the main aggressors. A person can not defend himself well and is therefore an excellent target for the bully. This person finds it hard to stand up for himself and does not know how to defend himself effectively. He (or she) is not as strong as the other verbally or has less self-confidence.
Being bullied at work is very stressful. If it goes on long enough, an employee may fall ill. Bullying causes great damage: often this is psychological, but sometimes also physical. Possible complaints: problems with ringing in the ears, high muscular tension, depression or sleeping problems. In other words, things you might want to avoid.
Therefore, it is my honest opinion that it is crucial to tackle these bullies. For example, in my country The Netherlands, more than 50% of the companies have not (yet) developed a policy to prevent or tackle bullying. As it turns out, bullying on the work floor is still not fully recognized or taken seriously. And where the issue is recognized, they do not know well what they can do about it.
This is why we have to take action ourselves!
To stop such a bull (this is where it comes from) or bully, you have to play it tactically. No, you do not have to put on a bull fighter’s suit and have a red cloth. But what you have to do is this:
1. Realize that you are dealing with bullying
The first thing to do is give the animal a name and do not blame yourself.
It may well be that you have not been aware for a long time of the fact that you were dealing with ‘bullying’, because it is absurd that this still happens among adults. Yet it happens, and it is better to know when it happens to you (or a colleague) and to acknowledge that you (or the other person) are in trouble. Once the problem is clear, further action can be taken.
2. You take action!
The limit or breaking point of bullying is different for everyone. Keeping silent here, as many people like to do, will work adversely. What is meant by this is that you also say something by saying nothing. In effect, you say that the bully can go ahead and that there is nothing wrong with that. So, this will not change anything about your situation. In other words, if you do not speak out loud about the bullies, you will never get the outcome you want. Go ahead and expose them for what they really are.
Maybe he thinks that he is funny. Let him clearly know that he is going too far and that his ‘jokes’ are no longer fun. Maybe it already stops then.
3. Keep it to facts, not emotions
When you speak, talk about the facts. If necessary, keep a log to get exactly what your bully has said or done when you report to a supervisor, a friend or a colleague. Certainly when legal or policy-related steps are taken, (documented) facts are very important.
By keeping it business-like and factual, you may also make it easier for yourself to report bullying. You do not whine, but denounce something.
4. Choose for yourself
See how you can best get out of this suffocating situation: alone or with the help of someone else. Do not let the situation get out of hand and choose for yourself. In this you may be unashamedly selfish. It is about your well-being and job satisfaction. Realize that you can not always change the situation, but how you deal with it yourself. Imitate the behavior of your tormentor: ignore him, snare at him, scold. But be careful not to go too far, or get fired.
5. Get more people on your side
It is common knowledge that social exclusion is what makes bullying so devastating. Make sure that you are not alone, no more. Maybe you know other victims of your bully – or of another bully. Also friendly colleagues who are just against bullying, you can use on your side. In this way you are stronger, and no longer alone.
Moreover, you force the company to deal with the issue and it is less likely that the entire incident will be forgotten without measures. Plead together for an anti-bullying policy, however sad it is that it is necessary, it helps to prevent victims in the future and to tackle bullies once and for all.
6. Stay calm and confident, like a bull tamer
Bull(ie)s smell fear, remember? That’s what is supposed to be a big factor. Stop being scared, stop blaming yourself and stop the one who does blame: tame that bull!
Consult someone who can mediate in the work situation. Think of a confidential adviser, the company doctor or someone from the trade union. Perhaps the problem can be proven and you can go to your supervisor together. You may prefer an independent person from, for example, the external HR service provider. See what applies to you and what feels safe.
7. Resign at the right moment
It is possible that the bullying behavior in your department is tolerated or that your supervisor is the bully. It may even happen that the management wants you to step out yourself, so that difficult (and expensive) dismissal procedures are prevented. Then you should look for another job, but: never resign yourself! I am giving you another very real possibility below.
My final thoughts
Anyone can find him or herself in this unfortunate situation and sooner or later it will happen to you. For many reasons or for no particular reason at all.
Be aware that any form of harassment is unacceptable, under any circumstances.
As you have seen above, there are ways to tackle this issue, be it in cooperation with your company or if they don’t, by yourself (with help of colleagues).
Never let your health be adversely influenced by bullying ‘colleagues’. Take action, even to the point that you have to switch jobs or the company.
If you are afraid of losing your job (=income), why don’t you become your own boss and become financially independent? Read all about this life changing opportunity here.
Share your personal experiences with bullying by filling out the comment box below.