Bullying of any kind should not be tolerated; yet almost half of all employees have been targeted by a bully boss, according to a study by the Employment Law Alliance. The practicalities of managing this in the workplace are complex; especially when the issue is your boss.
What constitutes workplace bullying? ACAS defines it as: ‘Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.
Do you recognise any of these behaviours? Someone
- ignoring or excluding you
- spreading malicious rumours or gossip
- humiliating you in public
- giving you unachievable or meaningless tasks
- constantly undervaluing your work performance
What can you do about it, especially if your employer isn’t committed to a robust policy that promotes dignity and respect at work? In stark terms, I believe you have three options to your situation:
1. Accept it
2. Change it
3. Leave it.
Over three articles, I would like to cover these options and would welcome your views or experiences.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Dealing with this type of negativity regularly can take a huge toll on your well being and requires great emotional intelligence to cope with.
“No one can make you feel guilty without your permission” Eleanor Roosevelt
One way to cope is not to take it personally. It is recognising that a bully is not disagreeable, rude and mean because of something you do; it’s the way they ARE to everyone around them.
We take things personally when we make demands of others like “How dare they say that to ME?” or about me. Unfortunately the answer is EASILY! A sad reality of life is that people can say and do whatever they want, and often will. And it’s not always going to be nice, fair, or what we’d like. If we learn to accept that, it will be easier to tolerate what we don’t like and can’t stop or control.
What we can control are our own feelings and thoughts. Someone can only hurt you if part of you is agreeing with what they are saying. Take time to hear that part of you and heal it a little and things will naturally change as a result. People will treat you as they see you. If you act the victim, you risk becoming a bully’s prey.
You can choose to understand your boss as a whole person. They may have insecurities that are causing the behaviour. Obviously, the person is rewarded in some way by bullying, but there will also be negative consequences to themselves. You can reduce your personal stress levels by giving unconditional acceptance of who they are.