Bullying is the intentional attempt to control, intimidate or demoralize a person with the aim to force them to do something. If bullying happens for a prolonged period, it may cause serious damage to someone’s self-esteem and confidence. Statistics show that 45% of people who have experienced bullying face stress-related health problems, including anxiety, panic attacks, and clinical depression up to 39%. Furthermore, 72% of bosses are bullies, 62% of managers disregard the problem, and 37% of employees have been targeted by a bully.
So, how can you deal with bullying in the workplace?
- Identify bullying
The first step is to recognize that you are being bullied. Name calling, intimidating or humiliating behavior, excessive monitoring, yelling, deliberately overloading with work, angry criticism, personal insults, sabotage, or damaging reputation are some of the common characteristics of bullying. So, if you identify any such behavior in the workplace, you are definitely being bullied.
- Trust your body signs
Don’t ignore what your body tells you. If you feel sick all the time with the thought that you have to go to work, there is probably a good cause. If you have trouble sleeping, high blood pressure, talk non-stop about your work problems, or you call in sick, you are probably facing bullying at work.
- Keep a record of bullying
Each time you are being bullied, write down the date, the time and a detailed description of the incident. By documenting bullying behavior, you keep a record of the regularity and the patterns that imply intent. If there are any witnesses, such as fellow workers or a manager, who have seen the incident and can support your case, write down their names too. If the case goes to the Human Resources department, you have to make sure that you have well-documented every single incident and that you keep any relevant correspondence such as threatening emails or letters.
- Set boundaries
It’s not easy to set boundaries to a bully, but it’s not impossible either. Try a direct confrontation with your bully. Tell them how their nasty behavior is affecting your work performance. Put your hands as a barrier and explain that you will not tolerate a bully behavior anymore. Use a calm tone and stick to this approach. Remember that direct confrontation puts the bullies on notice, and this is something they actually hate.
- Don’t blame yourself
Some people blame themselves for being bullied. Do not fall into this trap. Bullying it’s not about you in particular; it’s about the bully who tends to target the best employees, seeing them as a threat to their own advancement. Be confident, trust your instinct, and do not blame yourself. Remember that bullies aim at your mind, not at your work performance.
- Talk to your coworkers
Don’t think that you are the only one to be targeted by a bully at work. It is very likely that this person pulls the same behavior with other employees. Talk to your coworkers to see if this is actually happening and ask them to document every incident. This will make your case even stronger as their cases as well. If three people report bullying by the same person to the HR, most likely you have a strong case against this person.
- Report bullies
If, no matter all your efforts, the bullies keep on harassing you, report them to the Human Resources. If the company has no HR department, talk to your manager (if he/she is not the one who bullies you). Use all supporting documentation to prove your case and file a formal complaint. Include details about the incident, so that the bully’s behavior is filed, should they employee bully you again or a coworker. On the other hand, have in mind that, no matter how strong your case is, there is always a possibility of being asked to leave the company. However, use a confrontational approach in the meeting with your bully and your manager. Once you have addressed the issue, follow up your report.
You need to realize that that bullies enjoy harassing and bullying people. Don’t think that you can have control over a bully and that they will recognize their behavior. Bullies love to make you feel uncomfortable and it may take months until they stop bullying you. Remember: you are the one to take action, confront them directly, and make them feel nervous on their own ground.
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