Work bullies are not much different from schoolyard bullies. They all victimize people they perceive to be weaker or smaller. They do this to feel better about themselves. Some just use verbal abuses while others can be outright violent and physically abusive. Unfortunately, supervisors perpetrate 80 percent of workplace bullying. However, peers can also be as detrimental. Those being bullied at the workplace should not feel cornered because there are professional ways of dealing with the issue.
Bullying from Co-Workers
Recognize the bully. Those who are new in certain workplace settings may find it difficult to identify a workplace bully especially if they have only had good past workplace experiences. However, those who have dealt with workplace bullies before may recognize certain patterns. One of their main traits is that they try to get too personal, too fast to identify people’s weaknesses. They will also yell and confront others and act in an unprofessional manner.
A workplace bully may also try to separate some workers from their work or get the workers to separate from others. Evaluate the situation and determine how stressful the situation with the bully is. The most effective strategy is not to stay silent about the bullying. There are people who do not like conflict and would try to avoid it by any means. However, bullies feed on the fear of their victims. Try not to be submissive to a workplace bully.
Track each bullying incident by taking note of the date, nature and time of each infraction. This will help a worker avoid general and unspecific claims such as “he always speaks impolitely” or “they always push me around”.
Take some time to speak with the perpetrator. Approach the bully and ask for some private time with them for a discussion at their own convenience. Never address bullying problems in front of other employees because this may lead to tension and may draw other employees into the whole conflict. During the meeting, be calm, but assertive, and explain how the behavior affects others’ output and performance in the workplace as well as personal lives. It is important to be as diplomatic as possible and try not to threaten them with reporting the incidents to supervisors.
If the meeting with the bully does not resolve the situation, talk to the supervisor. If the supervisor does not take on the matter, a worker may be free to pursue legal action.
Learn the routines of a supervisor who is a bully. Avoid areas that they often visit and minimize any form of interaction with them. Keep track of each incident by writing down their dates, time and nature. Meet with the supervisor and discuss the bullying incidents with them. Supervisors should not fire employees for such discussions and may be subjected to a wrongful dismissal suit if they do. If the discussion proves unfruitful, report to the supervisor’s boss or human resource department.
Supervisors should raise awareness about workplace bullying because they are responsible for the overall dynamics in the workplace. They should also start a prevention program by conducting workplace violence seminars as a form of employee training. Management should clearly define workplace bullying and enforce the rules associated with the behavior. Employees should also be educated on how to report a workplace bully.
Though bullying at school is the most common form of bullying, this form of harassment may be overlooked at the workplace. Unfortunately, some people carry the habit from their school days into their professional life. The consequences of bullying at the workplace can be severe because it leaves victims suffering emotionally, financially and socially. Some employees may find the experience so unbearable they quit their jobs as an escape. A bully may also face lawsuits, legal penalties and termination.
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Author Byline: Kevin Wilson is a business manager and guest contributor at Top Business Degrees, where he added his input to the list of 30 Business Blogs Worth Following.