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How to Handle These Seven Unavoidable Office Bullies

Goodbye, playground bully! See you never, high school mean girls! Hello… workplace bullies? Oh no. Do you think you work with a bully? Do you regularly feel intimidated by and dread to work near a particular coworker? Are you repeatedly yelled at, insulted and put down – for any possible reason this behavior is inappropriate at work? Does a coworker talk over you at meetings, criticize you, or steal credit for your work?

Unfortunately, bullying isn’t one of those things you can put behind you when you become an adult, like awkward yearbook photos and braces. Offices can have bullies, too. In fact, they are more common than you might think.

Bullying is never acceptable, regardless of who you are or where you are. It’s a miserable experience and can destroy an otherwise productive day. In fact, some people are bullied so relentlessly that their self-worth is destroyed and they resort to drastic measures.

So we are breaking down seven of the most common bullying tips and what you can do to prevent them from wreaking havoc on your 9-to-5.

Set Limits on What You Will Tolerate 

Most importantly, once you have set the limit in your mind, exercise your right to tell the bully to stop the behavior. You might want to rehearse these steps with a friend so that you are more comfortable responding when the bully attacks.

Describe the behavior you see the bully exhibiting – don’t editorialize or offer opinions, just describe what you see. Don’t say that you are mean and nasty. This is meaningless commentary when you are talking to a bully.

Protect Yourself

Most bullies are weak, but there are some who can hurt you. If you feel that you are in physical danger, let your supervisor or someone else in authority know. Never put yourself in the position of being alone with someone who wants to torment you or cause harm. This is the most important way to tackle workplace bullies.

As soon as you see that you are dealing with an office bully, start documenting every encounter. Include the date, what happened, what was said, and who may have been a witness. This will help you state your case if you ever have to go to your supervisor or human resources with the problem.

Check Yourself

If you feel you are being bullied at work, the first thing to do is to take inventory of any ways you might be contributing to the challenging situation. It could be that you are doing nothing to provoke the bullying, but the point here is to truly size up the situation and take responsibility if you might be invoking the behavior in any way. From that perspective, you can determine the best way to deal with the situation. This is so important to remember to handle these workplace bullies.

Keep in mind that people make mistakes. Take a moment to size up the situation and determine if the “bullying” was simply a one-time incident due to someone having a bad day. If yes, then consider letting it go and moving on.

Confront The Bully With Their Own Behavior

Confronting a bully is hard and scary. But bullies are only effective when they are on a solid ground. Ground that you can take away. The next time he swears or heaves a phone book, call it out. Point out that he’s swearing or yelling, and leave the room. Or end the call.

Remember you are the adult dealing with a tantrum. By making statements about his conduct, you are putting him on notice. Keep up your game and by the second or third attempt.

Take Action Because It Has a Negative Impact On You

Understandably many individuals are afraid to speak up when they are being bullied. They might be concerned about what others will think. And, if the bully is their boss or someone in a position of power, then one’s livelihood could be at stake.

With that said, ongoing, long-term bullying can have a negative impact on your overall well-being, which in turn can have a negative impact on your performance and ability to do your work. Take care of yourself and develop an action plan to address the concern.

Your Coworkers Are Targets Of The Bully Too

Note whether the bully pulls the same behavior with your coworkers. Ask your coworkers to document the bully’s behavior and any scenes they witness when the bully targets any coworker. This will help you build a stronger case for your organization to take action.

If five of you experience the bullying and five of your coworkers document the bullying, then you build a case to which HR and your management can respond on solid grounds. They need evidence and witnesses, even if everyone knows that bully is a bully.

Be Assertive

The ideal way to prevent being bullied is to go into your job with a healthy dose of being assertive. Speak in an authoritative tone. This shows potential bullies that you are comfortable with your job skills, and you aren’t what they perceive as a weak person they can target. There is still no guarantee that they won’t go after you, but it will decrease the likelihood.

Hope for the best resolution when you ask management and HR for assistance in dealing with the bully, but be prepared to explore other options so you have less contact with the bully. You may even need to find a new job. You may never know what HR did about the bully. His or her privacy and confidentiality is also a priority. Stay away from workplace bullies.

But you can assess the impact of HR and management’s actions by how the bully now treats you after presumably, they have made an intervention.

You can address the behavior of a bully in your workplace. With persistence and personal courage, you can neutralize the bully behavior and regain your conflict-free workplace.

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