Updated 2/18/2021. Originally published 12/6/2016.
Knowing That There is Worse Pain Doesn’t Make Present Pain Hurt Any Less
~ Gordon Atkinson
If you are the target of bullying in the workplace, frankly you are exhausted – daily. Today was 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 must sit through another meeting where someone overtalks you or bulldozes through your ideas only to present it later as their thoughts… well, let us just say you are hanging on by a thread. You want it to stop now.
If you are witness to bullying, microaggressions, 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 working environment? Realistically, you need the job.
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.
In this article, we focus 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.
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 us take one at a time. If the next encounter will be a meeting, plan for the encounter and consider planning your response.
- LOCATION CONTROL: 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 is not a physical presence or audience to view the bad behavior. Many workplace bullies need an audience.
- PARTNER UP: Is there a trusted co-worker to partner with during the meeting? Decide in advance that each is willing to articulate support for the other co-worker during the meeting if needed.
- SPONSOR NEEDED: Is there a manager “sponsor” or “mentor” who will be present during the meeting or encounter? Having the support of a higher level of 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.
- RESPONSE CONTROL: 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 during high emotion, but the need to remain calm may send a different message to the offender and the observer(s) than previous responses. Ideally, your support team members are witnesses and will also speak up – especially if they have been victims too
- 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?
- Plan Ahead for the next encounter with the workplace bully
- Practice your response – repeatedly.
- Compare the results with previous bullying encounters.
- Remember: Notate, Record, Document Document, Document, Document
Difficult Conversations with Your Coworkers
Practicing behaviors that lead to greater team work and improved communication in the workplace.
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