Ways To Cope With Office Bullies While Maintaining Your Cool
There were times, when we used to think that bullies were just mean school kids who like to pick on tiny, introverted people. Yet, unfortunately, bullying doesn’t always stop with the end of childhood. Nope — The reality is, bullies are everywhere and they exist in all stages of life, sometimes without any solid reason.
In the workplace, bullying is tricky to define, but should not be confused with the rational part of your work requirement. Sometimes the signs of bullying include yelling, threats, coercion, belittlement and humiliation, or an abuse of power that may cause distress and fear. Pretty sure you’ve read the headlines and heard the stories, in which many people are taking their own lives to get away from the bullies.
It gets even harder when that bully is a coworker, who you are required to face for five days a week, 8 hours a day. So what can you do if you ever find yourself dealing with this situation at the office?
1. Be the bigger person
This is hard, but do note that bully cases are often acted out by those who have deep seated issues. Basically, it’s not about you being weak. It’s about the unresolved, burning rage inside their heads and their problems. In most cases, they are dealing with their own stress and trauma, difficult home life, or aggressive relationships — and they find it easy to unleash their bitterness onto others.
Stay calm and remember to be the bigger person, because this test of patience might come in handy for you in the future. Since bullies operate by making their victims feel alone and powerless, focus on how strong you are and how much courage it takes to rise above situations like this. Thinking of how bad the bully must be feeling may also help you to stay positive.
2. Ignore the harsh comments
You know that this situation is getting old and talking back will only spark a bitter battle that you may not win. Sometimes, you are blessed with desk neighbours who are destined to be your BFFs. But since luck can’t always be on your side, this means that you might sit next to the bully who has a knack of spewing constant (and often unwarranted) criticism. Block those negative comments, don’t give them the satisfaction by showing that you’re upset. Walk away, or put on your headphones and just focus on the work that you’re trying to complete.
3. Be cool, and smile
If you can’t leave the room, one tactic that often works to defuse criticism is to nod, smile and not really take anything in. Sometimes, they don’t mean any harm, as some people tend to think that teasing or playing around is an acceptable form of bonding with colleagues. To the point that they don’t realise that they may have stepped over the line. Avoid looking nervous, insecure or defeated.
4. Address the issue
If you have the opportunity to put a stop to this, then by all means, stand your ground and shut them down in a nice manner. Before taking any official steps, it’s important to have a conversation with the person who has been bullying you. If the bully accidentally says something offensive, just stay calm and stand up to the person by saying, “Excuse me”? Let him know that this behavior is affecting you and firmly request for him to stop. The bullying will never end if nothing is done about it. Even a simple “wow” can determine that their comment was over the line and unacceptable.
5. Develop a script for talking to bullies
Talking to a bully is never easy, as you might become nervous around them. To avoid losing or forgetting crucial points, prepare responses ahead of time that will allow you to hold on to your ground. You may hear a variety of responses including denial, “I didn’t do anything wrong”, or “I’m the best person you’ve got”, as well as “How dare you insult me like this”. In all cases, stick to the facts and don’t deviate from your script, even if it means repeating yourself numerous times. The trick is to practice your responses several times when you’re alone so they become automatic.
6. Report the incident
When you’ve done your best to solve the issue directly, keep in mind that if the problem still arises, you have the right to alert your manager. Is it just you that’s getting this sort of treatment? Ask around. If the situation worsens to the point that it affects your work, speak with your boss or a HR representative. Keep detailed, black and white records of all correspondence with the persons in charge. So, if you do end up taking legal action, you’ll need that documentation as evidence of your complaint and the company’s way of handling it.
All in all, being around a bully can be draining. If it happens repeatedly over time, victims might find it hard to get things done and have a greater likelihood of crumbling health. Always remember to take time to de-stress, get rid of the negative energy and don’t be afraid to take control of the situation.