Bullying in the workplace comes in various forms - smooth, hard and indirect. It can come from anyone; from bosses to colleagues and even when you least expect it. Bullies are typical workplace sociopaths who manifest their power of office or insecurities in the form of bullying to justify their work capabilities. A survey done by Employment Law Alliance
shows that a good percentage of employees start looking for jobs because of bullying at the workplace. This article will try to help employees deal with the common problem of bullying in a professional manner.
Different shades of bullying
The unfortunate thing about bullying and the bigger problem behind this is that more than half of the employees are direct targets of their bosses or face some bullying indirectly. As already mentioned, bullying has different forms. The three most common behavioural characteristics of a workplace bully are:
1. Intimidation - Usually some kind of threat to achieving one's personal objective.
2. Humiliation - Public shaming or shouting in front of others (whenever they get a chance).
3. Constant criticism - Not the positive ones but negative criticism which does not lead to any productivity.
There are various other forms of passive bullying which can affect employees in a similar way. Some of these are taking credit for your work, deliberately sabotaging your work, exclusion from meetings, purposely withholding information, spreading false rumours and gossiping.
If you have faced such kinds of behaviour from your boss or a co-worker, then, unfortunately, you have been a victim of bullying and you need to put your acts together to stop it.
Types of Bullies and how to stop them
Bullying affects people's lives dramatically and those who are at the other end of the act should get it inside their thick heads. All those who are fighting against bullies at the workplace should remember that bullies are cowards at the core and this will be your prime weapon against them. Now let us take a look at the specific types of bullies and how you need to act:
When a co-worker becomes a bully, you can assume it is because he/she sees you as a potential competition or has insecurities deep down that you are better than them. The bad thing about such bullies is that they will be waiting for you every day holding these thoughts inside their head and you won't even get a hint of it. They are like preys waiting for a single chance to act upon. But they are cowards too, and you need to be brave to counteract.
Do not let them see you are affected
Bullying co-workers will love to see your reactions and act accordingly since they are with you every working day. They will passively-aggressively try to exclude you from an important project or ignore you during team parties/lunches. The strategy you should follow is not to let your feelings be known. Keep all those emotions to yourself and let it out on someone whom you trust. The bullies might see that you are not affected by it and they are simply wasting their time instead.
Stand up for what you are
Some bullies are of the persistent kind. They are like hyenas waiting for their prey to get tired after running for a long time and make the kill. These type of bullies will be breathing down your neck every minute of your working life trying to make you feel as miserable as they can. In such cases, stand up for yourself in an assertive manner but not aggressively as you do not want to end up being like them. Bring to the bully's notice that the person's behaviour is not acceptable in a professional manner. But if it does not get inside his head you will understand it is time to take the matter to a higher authority.
More than 70% of the bullies are bosses and why is it so?
There are two causes behind bosses becoming bullies:
A position of power that makes them feel like generals on a battlefield.
They have been victims of bullying in the past and is taking it out on others.
Whatever maybe the cause, you should never become a victim of such bullying. If you are unlucky enough then you should speak with a colleague or a team member who has faced such situations and learn how to tackle it. Sometimes when people are in a position like your boss is in, they tend to forget that their behaviour may affect someone. So, you can also speak directly to your boss and explain the situation in a tactful manner. You must be prepared and do a little research of your boss before going with your explanation.
When the above strategies fail
This part is when all the other strategies did not help and you are still being bullied. Once you see that the above things are not working, get into documentation mode and start documenting every bit of bullying behaviour that you can record either through email, text or another medium.
Talk to HR
Reach to your concerned HR person and let him/she know the situation you are in. Usually, every good company has an anti-bullying policy clearly outlined so that it does not harm the work culture. It should be noted that no organisation supports bullying as it poisons the work environment from inside and leads to a very unproductive place. It also makes a company lose good talent because few people behave in an unprofessional manner.
Thus, an HR of a good company will do whatever is in their power to check the noxious atmosphere. Take all your documentation to them to support your claims and when they see the gravity of the situation, they will act accordingly.
Leave the place
If you see that there is no change even after reaching out to the HR, then it is time to leave the place. You should understand that the place is not worth it. It is better to seek new job opportunities elsewhere than being in a place which supports bullying. Treat this as an experience and not a setback. Update your resume and start applying on job sites.
The Bottom Line
Do not be affected by whatever happened to you during that period and tried to forget the whole episode. If you are depressed by the situation, take a break and pursue your hobbies. You can also talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. But never bow down to acts of bullying and remain a victim forever; be brave and take a stand.
Hasib is a career coach, blogger and professional writer working for one of the top job websites in India - Naukri.com. He closely monitors the current trends in the job industry and often writes articles related to career decisions and professional development. When he isn't busy writing, he is either trying out a new dish or watching an exciting game of football. Follow him @ Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn