In my previous post I talked about Office Bullying Causes Heart Disease Plus Ten other amazing facts. In this post I will talk about what to do, step by step, if you are being bullied.
First, you have to watch out for signs that the bullying is imminent. Usually bullies start
with intimidation. They do silly tricks to look strong. Like laughing out loud hysterically, interrupting, hogging space, swearing, and other small games they play. If you catch the signs early and show that you are not willing to put up with the behavior, that might save you a whole lot of agony later.
Let us assume you did not catch the intimidation tactics, you did not react to them, or you reacted to them but the guy or the gal is determined to put you through the bullying. Contrary to common belief, pretending like it doesn’t bother you is not a good reaction to office bullying. Because it will cause more of the same. Sometimes all it takes is asking the person to stop. As simple as this might sound to some, but for others it is very difficult. Not everyone is up for confrontation. If you cannot confront the bully, at least disapproval of the behavior and walk away. In most cases the behavior will stop. Unless you are dealing with a super a-hole, excuse my French.
What if you disapprove. You clearly request the behavior to stop. But the bullying continues. What to do then? Unfortunately this is a pickle. A problem. But you are not alone. Many people find themselves in this situation.
At this point it is important to establish a few facts: First it is not your fault. So do not let anybody convince you that it is your weakness or your behavior is causing this. This is a classic case of blaming the victim. The worst thing a bully can do to you is shake your self confidence. Unfortunately it is the first thing that happens after bullying: questioning self. If you are doing that, I Assure you it is normal that you feel that way, and I assure you: No. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You are dealing with a sick individual. It is like blaming someone if he or she is bitten by a rabid dog. The only difference is that the dog is not liable for his animal behavior. But the bully chooses to act like a behemoth.
One of the biggest mistakes of people facing bullying is that they are too embarrassed to talk about it. Because they think it means something is wrong with them for not standing up to the bullying. They are ashamed. So they keep it to themselves. This is devastating mentally and physically. No one should endure this. If someone is facing bullying the least they can do is to talk to someone about it. Preferably someone who can stop the bullying. If no one can, then at least talk to someone who cares and has the wisdom and experience to help you think objectively about what to do.
To let you in on a little secret, bullies do not become bullies just to hurt you. They are probably bullies long before you met them. So they probably did the same to others in the organization. In that case, observe how they behave with others. Are they doing this only with you? or with other people? Is there someone you confide in at work? Ask them informally about it.
Tell them about your concerns. You might be surprised what you will here.
If there is no one who can stop the bullying, and you cannot stop the bullying yourself, and the person will not stop bullying you, then it might be time to move. You do not have to move outside the organization, but maybe move to another group, location, or department. Ask to be transferred to another team leader. If not possible, maybe you need to start considering options outside the organization.
Whatever you do, do not try to suck it up. Do not try to be “strong.” You are strong, but you do not need to be in this kind of atmosphere. Leaving might be your best option.
What if one cannot leave? What if you cannot find another job and you really need this work? It is time then to make yourself as immune as possible to the behavior. Try to reduce interaction with the bully as much as possible. Create a support group around you to encourage you and give you positive reinforcement to counter the negative effect from the bully. Consider talking to HR or employee groups about creating and communicating a “No Bullying” policy. On the personal side, try to do sports and Yoga. It helps a lot. I advise taking on a full contact sport, like a martial art. It helps you be grounded and get rid of negative energy. Swimming has a similar effect in getting rid of negative energy.
There are things that you should never do when being bullied. I will talk about these in the next article.