Knowing That There is Worse Pain Doesn’t Make Present Pain Hurt Any Less
– Gordon Atkinson, author of Real Live Preacher
If you are the victim of bullying in the workplace, frankly you are exhausted – on a daily basis. Today was the one of the worst days. You wonder how you can go on. The belittling comments or the disparaging tone of voice. The public humiliation you are subjected to – whether in a meeting or the open area. Frankly, if you have to sit through another meeting where someone overtalks you, or bulldozes through your ideas only to present it later as their own thoughts… well, lets just say you are hanging on by a thread. You want it to stop – Now. If you are a witness to the bullying or incivility, you are uncomfortable observing this behavior. Should you step in? What can you say or do to make a positive change for the person who is being bullied, as well as your own working environment. After all – you have to work here.
In “Bullied at Work”, we are exploring the following questions:
- What can we do?
- How can we help affect change in behavior?
- How can we protect our current jobs – especially if you don’t have the luxury of changing jobs immediately.
Actionable Solutions and Practices to Address Bullying in the Workplace
In this series, we are focusing on steps you can take in your current job, role, or position to address and reduce the impact of workplace bullying. Previously, we discussed the need to give space between you and the bullying offender in the workplace. For this article, we will focus on practicing your response.
Practicing Your Response
You know that tomorrow, or the next meeting, will bring out the workplace bully. You know how and what tactics they will use against you or another co-worker. Let’s take one at a time. If the next encounter will be a meeting, plan ahead for the encounter and consider planning your response.
- CHANGE LOCATIONS: Do I need to attend this meeting in person? Can the meeting be held virtually instead? Reactions can be different remotely or virtually – when there isn’t a physical presence or audience to view the bad behavior. Many workplace bullies need an audience.
- GET A PARTNER: Is there another co-worker [hat I trust] that I can partner with during the meeting? I am willing to articulate support for this co-worker and vice versa – in the meeting, if needed.
- INVITE A SPONSOR / MENTOR: Is there a manager “sponsor” or “mentor” who will be present during the meeting or encounter? Having the support of a higher level authority present may diminish the opportunity for bullying. At the least, it will provide another witness to the bullying behavior. At the most, the authority figure present will set the tone and expectation of all who are present.
- PLAN YOUR RESPONSE: What response will you provide to the behavior next time? What impression do you want to leave with the workplace offender? Remaining calm, polite and direct will require practice and focus. It will be hard in the midst of high emotion, but remaining calm, cool and collect may send a different message to the offender and the observer(s) than previous responses. Ideally, your supportive team members are witnesses and will also speak up – especially if they have been victims too.
Questions to ask yourself or others
- Which co-worker or manager seems to be able to handle the bully better?
- What exactly are they doing – that you could learn to emulate?
- Can you adapt their technique to your professional style?
Actionable Tip #2 – Practice Your Response
- Plan Ahead for the next encounter with the workplace bully
- Practice your response – repeatedly.
- Compare the results with previous bullying encounters.
- Remember: Document, Document, Document
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