6 Effective techniques to deal with a workplace bully
I was bullied as a kid. Hell, we all were in the 80s and 90s – it was part of growing up. I used to think this focus on “bullying” was overblown in the modern age, but now I think, perhaps not. Cyber bullying can be extreme and it’s simply more difficult for people to escape it these days.
My workplace bully
This week, I have been the victim of a workplace bully. I know, I know…everyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I love where I work, I work with awesome people and I love my job. Sadly, not everyone is as lucky as me and this person who I came across seemed like she had little in her life to make her feel good about herself.
Honestly, you have to feel sorry for a bully. We can all be bullies sometimes. I have written previously about my bad manners and what it’s like to date an asshole. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. There is a Valentines full moon at the moment and people are very emotional. I personally spent most of Tuesday in tears, very upset about the various things that were draining my energy and making me feel crap.
So onto my bully, here’s what they did
I have had to deal with bullies a few times in my life. Most notably, my ex boyfriend was a real bully who would terrorise and abuse everyone around him, including his parents, his landlord, his siblings and his loser of a girlfriend (me!). Next in line would be my very first boss. I used to work in radio here in Australia and obviously, this is a sector where there are lots of egos, emotions and high anxiety – everything is LIVE for a start – a recipe for stress and tempers flaring.
Do poor social skills lead to bullying behaviour?
This boss of mine had poor social skills and was often highly irrational and emotional. I had another boss like this years later, also working as the program director of a radio station. He was terrifying – in fact, when people saw him coming they would scurry away in fear.
In radio, you do this thing called “air checks” where your boss will sit down with you and go over your 3 hour (or more) announcing shift and listen back to the “talk breaks” you did. They will give you comments such as, “You used the word ‘like’ too much, you need to pause more between thoughts, the information you gave could have been better phrased like this…etc” they are often quite painful.
My radio boss gave me a very hard time
This old boss I had used to give the most scathing air checks. I used to see grown men leaving in tears. New employees quit, older employees took the night shift – anything to avoid this awful boss. Behind his back we used to call him “the angry Smurf” because he was a short, leathery man who often wore blue. He was in his 40s and unmarried with no kids. He had a couple of dogs who were (no doubt) terrified of him.
My current workplace bully is not really this bad but each time she would leave my desk, I would be visibly shaking in fear. Then I would go to the ladies’ bathroom to have a cry – because we all know that strong women hold it together and big girls don’t cry.
How to deal with a workplace bully
- Never escalate the bullying, be polite when you can
- Keep a record of bullying events
- Keep calm and wait for a while before taking action
- Set up a meeting with HR to go over the issue
- Don’t get emotional
- Speak to your co-workers or get witnesses
Remember: A person may use their position of power or their physical dominance over those who are perceived to be weaker. The bullying is often dependent upon the perceived power of the bully over their victim. Want more information on dealing with bullies?
Download this great fact sheet.