Workplace Bullying and How to Handle It

Typically when we think of bullying, we think of school when we were kids. It is unfortunate to have to deal with workplace bullying as adults, and it can sometimes be difficult to handle. Workplace bullies often leave you feeling intimated, dreading work, and emotionally drained. They will steal credit for your work, do everything to discredit you as a person, and gossip about you for no apparent reason.

It is estimated that 19% of American’s are bullied, and another 19% have witnessed bullying in the workplace. If you believe or know you are a target of workplace bullying and are not sure how to handle it, we have highlighted a few tips to help you deal with the situation:

Respond, don’t react:

Bullies often genuinely enjoy emotionally manipulating people. They would love more than nothing to see you lose control or have an emotional outburst to further their motives. One of the best ways to take control of the situation is to respond to their bullying, rather than react. It could be as simple as saying, “I know what you are trying to do and I want it to stop.” This will hopefully discourage the bully from continuing their interpersonal destruction since they are not receiving the reaction from you they had hoped for.

Don’t blame yourself:

It is important to acknowledge that whatever is going on is not about you; instead it is about the bully. Remember that a bully is simply playing mind games and is not really concerned about your actual work performance. So do your best to maintain your confidence and composure whenever confronted and remember that no one deserves to be bullied.

Build relationships:

Bullies will always try their hardest to discredit you by alienating you from your co-workers. Rather than allowing the bully to win this way, ensure that you have solid relationships within the office, so you have the best support possible to deal with the bully. A bully will continually try to turn your co-workers against you, but if you have solid relationships in place, you know that their tactics will not work.

Educate yourself:

Take the time to do some research on bullying to better understand the motives behind a bullies’ behavior and how to effectively respond. You should also take the time to meet with your human resources department to get a better idea of what policies are in place to deal with inappropriate workplace behavior. The more educated you are around workplace bullying, the better off you will be to deal with it.

Expose the bully:

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, it is estimated that 77.7% of employees either lose their jobs or quit after becoming the target of a bully. With statistics like that, what do you have to lose by exposing them? When going to your leadership or human resources department, make sure to provide specific instances when you have been the target of bullying and who else was a witness to it. Make sure also to keep note of how it has affected you in the workplace and at home. Leadership may be less apprehensive to take action if they know it is affecting your performance, your home life, and the overall morale of the workplace.

The effects that bullying can have on an individual can be quite serious, both physically and mentally, and should not be taken lightly. If neither your human resource department or leadership is willing to help you with the bullying situation, it may be in your best interest to seek legal help. An attorney can talk you through which options can best protect you.

Whatever you do, it is important not to let the bullying continue because it will likely only get worse before it gets better. In the case of workplace bullying, some action is better than no action.

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