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5 Ways to Deal With Bullies in the Workplace

5 Ways to Deal With Bullies in the Workplace

You may think that bullying ended when you finished your studies, but bullying in the workplace has become a widespread problem. This includes intimidating, humiliating, and criticizing someone. When it comes to criticism, we are not talking about constructive criticism, but criticism with the ultimate goal of humiliating someone.

Other forms of bullying behaviors include sabotaging one’s success/work, taking credit for other people’s work, excluding one person from meetings on purpose, and spreading false stories about a person. This kind of psychological abuse is passive-aggressive and shouldn’t be tolerated. Bullying in the workplace is a serious matter, and if you are experiencing it, you must stand up for yourself. Here’s how to deal with it.

1. Build self-worth and define your boundaries

You need to know who you are. This will help you build your character. If you don’t have self-esteem, then you should work on it. Start with a little positive self-talk and write your qualities on a piece of paper. Start exercising, or do a few different things that make you feel better and happier. Even if you are in a lower position in your company, you should not put up with bullying from your peers.

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Define your boundaries and tell them where the line is. You can start by telling them that their humiliating tactics won’t make you quit or go crazy, and if they want your help, they’ll need to act properly. Be calm; don’t raise your voice.

If this doesn’t help and you don’t solve your problems through communication, then it is time to contact your HR and manager.

2. Speak up as soon as you see a problem or feel uncomfortable

The worst thing you can do with bullies in the workplace is to sit quietly and wait for the problem to magically disappear. It won’t happen, so don’t be silent. Speak up about your problem. Your superiors will certainly want to know what’s going on, as having a bully in the office leads to poor teamwork and lower productivity.

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One person can be the best in their field, but if they are ruining a team of 10 people, the company doesn’t need them. So, if you notice one or two bullies going around the office and intimidating you or your coworkers, then you should definitely talk to someone.

3. Keep your own emotions in check and stay professional

When someone is passive-aggressive or even verbally aggressive, you shouldn’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you are a highly-sensitive person, it can be very hard to stop yourself from crying and sobbing from a few hateful words. You want to confront bullies in the workplace, but not by throwing a temper tantrum.

Don’t yell and don’t show them that their bullying affects you. Show them that it is not professional and that it doesn’t suit the company’s standards. When someone humiliates you or yells at you, it is hard to keep your emotions in check, but practice makes perfect. Stay professional, talk to them in a calm voice, present to them the cold hard facts, call them out on their BS, and they’ll eventually stop.

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If not, contact management and calmly explain to them the nature of the unacceptable behavior, without resorting to name-calling or vague accusations.

4. Write down clear and concise facts about their behavior and performance

When submitting your complaint, know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. All companies should do all they can to put an end to bullying. So, don’t think that informing the HR team will make the whole thing worse.

Write everything that the bully did down. Sometimes, it can be truly hard to talk about the things someone did to you, but they need to know everything. Just keep it concise and use facts concerning their inappropriate behavior and poor performance.

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This way, the HR team will know how to solve the problem, as they will know how this person affects the whole team and their overall performance.

5. Turn to other co-workers for support

Some of your coworkers might not notice that you are being bullied. Don’t be a hero. Ask them for support, and they will certainly help you out. Ask them for help when dealing with the person who is humiliating you. If you are unable to stand up for yourself alone, ask them to be there for you whenever the bully is around.

Bullying is a serious matter, and as such, it shouldn’t be ignored. If you are experiencing it, use these five ways to deal with the problem — it will certainly help not only you, but will make the whole team better and more productive.

More by this author

Ivan Dimitrijevic

Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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