Coping with Workplace Bullying 2

Bullying in the workplace is in no-one’s interest but it can be tricky to manage, especially when it is your boss. In the first article, I looked at accepting it. If you can’t do that and you are brave and committed enough, you can attempt to change it.

You may consider having a third-party assessment of the situation. You might get a trusted colleague to observe the communications, including body language, between yourself and the bully to identify possible amendments.  Sometimes you can unknowingly appear too servile, which gives your boss or any other individual the mistaken impression that you are fair game.

If you work for a company that has a dignity at work or anti-bullying policy, then you can get support. However, you may be in a company that doesn’t.

With help, abrasive leaders can relinquish their destructive management styles. They only do so if they are held accountable for acceptable conduct by their employers. As the ‘bully’ is often seen as successful in the eyes of the shareholders in terms of results, (if not staff engagement!) then behaviours may be accepted or overlooked.

Changing ourselves

You may have to change your own responses to get the outcome you are looking for. It’s important to remember that you get what you tolerate. What reason does anyone have to change their behaviour if you tolerate it and nothing happens to them?

The vast majority of people believe that what others say and do makes them feel bad. That puts them at the mercy of others, who will ‘work them over’, if given the chance. When we have an external locus like this, we give away the power we do have to determine how we feel about ourselves.

No one can get inside our heads unless we let them. We can learn to be more aware of the cognitive choices we have and to use them to our advantage; to feel the way we want to, about ourselves or anything else, instead of the way the bully might want us to. It takes practice, but it can be done.

Changing the ‘bully’

Having that crucial conversation requires honest dialogue, courage and an awareness of where it may lead. A large percentage (82%) of ‘targets’ of bullying lose their jobs.

You also have to be aware that this type of change will take time.

I have found that being assertive and having open, frank conversations can work. Very often the bully is not aware of the impact they are having. By demonstrating the right behaviours yourself and having self respect, you can build their respect for you.

You need to manage upwards. You can agree with them when the aspect is about opinions, as a strategic retreat can be a very useful strategy. If however, it is about your values and ethics, then you can choose to be true to yourself and assertively stand your ground.

If you wish to tackle it head on, then remember that it is the action of bullying which you dislike, not the person bullying you. Never confuse the two. When you have learnt to respect the person, you will react differently towards them, and this will change their actions towards you.

Often it is insecurity or not knowing anything better that leads to bullying . Giving praise for the right behaviours can help.

What tactics have worked for you?

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