Do you feel bullied at your workplace? Bullies are common at the workplace the way horses are many at a garbage site. But, the fact that bullies are so many doesn’t mean that you should entertain them.
The internet has a host of tips and tricks about coping with workplace bullying. However, dealing with such individuals, especially when they’re your boss is sometimes not easy. The situation might escalate to the point that they either leave the company or you resign.
Sadly, some employees are too scared of reporting a bully, and that forms the reason why employers don’t fire workplace bullies. The employer simply doesn’t know that such a problem exists in their company.
The article will tell you how to handle the bully or get them fired, even if it’s your boss.
Workplace Bullying Explained
Workplace bullying refers to targeted behavior towards a person or a group of people. It includes targeted practical jokes, humiliation, threats, verbal abuse, unjust criticism, overly harsh, excessive-performance monitoring, unclear directions, incorrect deadlines designed to mislead, continuous denial of requests, etc.
Bullying at the workplace affects workers. The good news is that there are laws that protect workers against physical harm or discrimination against people of color, those living with disabilities, and other protected groups. However, in most instances, bullying is mostly psychological or verbal in nature and thus not visible to others.
How to identify Workplace Bullying
There are different types of bullying. Some are subtle, while others are open. The best way to identify a bully is to evaluate how others view what’s happening, depending partly on circumstances. There is bullying when other people consider a particular behavior unreasonable and when it’s repeated over time.
The following are types of bullying behaviors.
Verbal: Humiliation, mockery, gossip, jokes, other forms of spoken abuse.
Retaliation: Social exclusion, accusations of lying, denial of leave, refusal of promotions, forced overtime.
Intimidation: Threats, spying, invasions of privacy, social exclusion.
Work Performance: Someone taking credit for your ideas, stealing your concepts, work sabotage, wrongful blame, unrealistic production goals, interference.
Bullying is different from harassment because the behavior is repetitive. Harassment involves a single action or instance. However, harassment becomes bullying when it is persistent. Harassment is illegal, especially when the actions or behavior is directed towards a protected group of people.
Workplace bullying behavior includes:
- A coworker(s) walking away from you when you enter a room, ignoring you or not talking to you.
- Excluding you from team lunches, parties, chitchat, or other office culture.
- You’re being forced to do tasks over and above your typical duties, assigned new tasks without training or assistance.
- Frequent monitoring by your boss makes it hard to complete your tasks or doubt yourself.
- You’re being criticized or ridiculed for not doing pointless or difficult tasks.
- A pattern of personal belongings, work-related documents, files, and other items going missing.
It’s the persistence of these incidents that make them bullying. Thinking about these behaviors can cause anxiety and stress. Because of that, you should confront the behavior and report it.
How to Confront a Bullying Boss
Employees are afraid of standing up to their bosses because of the possible repercussions. Standing your ground may cause you to be disciplined or, worse still, lose your job. However, it’s worth considering it.
Some people prefer to learn coping mechanisms, while others don’t mind confronting the bully even if it means losing their position in the company. The route you take will have an outcome, and you should be prepared to face it.
The following tips will help you confront your boss and handle the situation effectively.
Be Confident and Professional
A person who has a tendency to bully others first evaluates the victims before displaying unreasonable behavior. They want to see who they can manipulate and control. So avoid appearing defeated, insecure or nervous. Remain strong and professional during the discussion. Don’t give up or give in.
Have Specific Examples
Show how your boss’ behavior is unprofessional using specific examples. You will be accused of overreacting if you don’t have some already prepared examples. Usually, bullying bosses don’t accept that they’re mean to their subordinates. Instead, they shift the blame to their juniors or brush it off. However, you shouldn’t stand your ground, recognize the behavior as it’s, and don’t take the blame for their bad behavior.
Continue Being Productive
At times, the boss’ mean behavior can derail you at work. However, don’t allow their bullying to interfere with your work. Avoid discussing your manager’s behavior with your colleagues; instead, continue to work hard. Allowing their behavior to disrupt your work will worsen the situation because the boss will monitor you more frequently, force you to work overtime, and deny you a promotion, particularly when your projects fall behind schedule.
The first step was to address the issue with your boss. But your efforts might not yield the desired results. If so, you can contact your HR or the person that your boss reports to. Produce the record of the bullying incidents and the witnesses.
Show the senior managers that your supervisor has been targeting you based on the evidence.
Further, contact a counselor if the bullying is draining, depressing, or causing anxiety. Ignoring its effects can lead to severe effects. Be assertive but don’t be mean in return.
How to Report a Bully
It’s common to feel powerless when experiencing bullying. The bully might threaten or intimidate you when they know you’re planning to report them. In fact, they might tell you that nobody will believe you.
Regardless of the person that triggered it, bullying is not your fault. The bully will try to convince you that you can’t do your work well and that they’re not targeting you. As a result, you might wonder who to tell when your boss is the perpetrator.
The following are the steps that you should take when reporting a bully.
Keep Track of the Bullying Incidents
You will be required to provide evidence when you report the bully. Therefore document the bullying behavior in terms of the date, time, location, and witnesses. You may keep a digital copy of these incidents.
Additionally, you should keep any physical evidence that proves you were bullied. These include comments, emails, or threatening notes. You can also keep things such as overly harsh comments on your work or denied PTO requests in a safe place. Your goal is to store evidence that can help you prove your claims.
Review Work Policies
Review the employee handbook to see the outlined procedure for reporting bullying behaviors. Go a step higher and research the state and federal policies about different types of workplace bullying and harassment.
Reach Out to a Trusted Friend
Talk to a trusted coworker who can offer you support. A family member may also help you evaluate the situation and how to handle the bully.
Report the Bully
Talk to a designated person at your workplace if you don’t feel safe discussing it with your boss. The best starting point is to speak to your boss if the bully is your coworker or the Human Resources. However, the procedure is different if the boss is the one bullying you. In this case, you can talk to the person your boss reports to, the HR, or someone higher up.
Bring along a trusted witness and the evidence to confirm the bullying. This can be a coworker or a supervisor that witnessed the incident.
Seek Legal Guidance
The bully might retaliate when you report them to their boss or HR. The situation might escalate to the extent that you are no longer productive, and the bully will use this to humiliate you.
At this point, talking to a lawyer might be the needed solution. While it might be too early to take legal action, a lawyer might offer you specific advice.
You may also talk to a therapist who can provide you with professional support because bullying causes anxiety or stress. You should take this step as you take other action in order to bring an end to the workplace bullying you’re experiencing.