Bullying on Wikipedia isn’t just something that happens on the elementary school playground, back then you could just run away from it or play with other friends. However, when it happens in the workplace, you feel more trapped than ever, this isn’t something you can run from so here are some things you can do to protect and defend yourself.
Bullying can also be intertwined with harassment but they don’t always go hand in hand. Bullying can be anything from insulting someone’s ethnicity, gender, religion, beliefs, even age. In the past we’ve called it “picking on me” or “targeting me” but the words today are bullying and harassing. Managers can bully through misuse of power, over supervising, constantly making an example of you as what not to do, and using language that condescends and lacks all respect when communicating with you. These examples are not always directly to your face, they can be done in more passive aggressive ways, like talking behind your back to other employees, emails, memos and phone conversations. This behavior leads to a toxic work environment leaving you feeling anxious, stressed, embarrassed and wanting to leave. Leaving isn’t always an option so here are some steps you can take to handle the situation:
Know your limits on this situation, set a limit and stick to it. Once that limit is passed, move on to the next steps.
State the behavior back to them so they are aware
Bullies pick on people they perceive to be weak, sometimes they feel everyone is weaker than them, sometimes it’s just one or two people. When the behavior is aimed at you and you have reached your tolerance limit, stand your ground and tell that person you do not appreciate the inappropriate behavior (John, you have made many comments about my age and how you feel I can’t do my job because of it. When you do that, it distracts me from my job and I want you to stop making those comments to me and behind my back and let’s focus on doing our jobs well.)
Document, document, document
Any which way the inappropriate behavior comes in, record it. When, where, time etc., how it made you feel, what actions you took and any other relevant info.
Inform superiors: manager/HR
You have the documentation and it has been more than just a one-time occurrence, now is the time to take steps to rectify within the company. Inform your manager of the situation (considering it’s not your manager that is bullying) give them a copy of the documentation and see if there is something they can do to change the situation. If all else fails and nothing has been resolved, take the matter to HR. File a complaint against the bully and let that go on record. Talk with HR and come up with a plan to fix the situation.
These are suggestions for resolution; however, there are many, many variables at play. Try your best, always take the high road and maintain your composure and self-respect. Your company may do nothing to resolve the conflict, you may need to begin looking for new employment, when you do, know that you have done everything within your powers to rectify the situation. Best of luck!