Bullies in the Workplace Still Lurk in the Shadows Waiting….
As a Government employee, we receive random calls, and surveys via email regarding “Office Bullying” or “Conduct in the Workplace”. It has become an issue over the past years as bullying awareness has been brought to the forefront of work places. Human Resources in large corporations and with Government bodies seem to have created a MOVEMENT to proactively eradicate the “OFFICE BULLY”. This is a major step toward office morale and ensuring that employees have their needs met, when it comes to conflict resolution and the ability to report and disclose if you fall victim to bullies.
As fortunate as we may be to work in the environments where bullying is not tolerated, and resources are offered to us so that we can voice our issues with bullies, there are a few major problems for those are victimized:
- Adults don’t like to TELL- As children, the “Don’t be a tattle tale” stigma sticks with us. We don’t want to be “the one” to come forward to throw a fellow co-worker under the bus for mistreatment toward you. You don’t want to stand out as a “trouble maker”
- We QUESTION if the person is actually, indeed, a BULLY- Again, as adults, it is a difficult situation when a fellow co-worker treats you like shit behind closed doors, and then is kind to you when there are witnesses. You begin to question yourself, question the bully’s motives, and question your own sanity
- We make EXCUSES for them-”Maybe its just their Type A personality” “Maybe I am not doing my job correctly so they are just being critical, and I should just be better at my work” “Maybe he/she is just having a bad day”
- We don’t like CONFLICT- There is a whole host of reasons why Bullies pick their targets. The main one is simple: BECAUSE THEY SEE YOU AS WEAK. Maybe their victim is a new colleague at the firm, or perhaps the victim is the “quiet one” in the office who cowers to criticism and will do anything to please her boss, and fellow co-workers. This could make you look like an easy target.
- We are worried about our own JOB SECURITY- There is a stigma attached to “whistle blowers” in today’s work environments. It seemingly has become easier to talk with an HR rep or your supervisor, however, if you are a newer employee or you are a team member who keeps to yourself, it may not be possible for you to comfortably disclose if you are being harassed or bullied by a fellow colleague.
As someone who has been bullied at work, I have few pointers, although I am no EXPERT on the subject. I will tell you what worked for me.
Swallow your pride and stop making excuses for whoever is pushing you around. Go to a colleague who you can trust, or to Human Resources in a private meeting and VOICE your concerns and feelings. Human Resource staff are employed for this very reason, to help their fellow humans sustain a successful work environment.
Watch the Bully to see if you can observe anyone else being targeted. If so, casually ask questions to see if that person also feels victimized. The two of you can form a united front and speak to HR together. If you don’t observe other victims, refer back to the above advice.
Do NOTHING- This may not solve your problems, however, in my experience, I didn’t speak to any of my supervisors about the bully’s indiscretions. In the end, my bully buried herself, because someone else witnessed her actions toward me and other colleagues. Karma can be a wonderful tool
Stand up and face them-EVEN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO- Look them in the eye and tell them “If you have an issue with me, lets go talk to our supervisor or Human Resources together, to resolve this issue. If you don’t have a problem with me, please leave me alone so I can get my work done. Thank you”
In the end, you HAVE to protect yourself. I would never advise going toe to toe or picking an argument with someone who has no respect for you. In a workplace atmosphere a bully can make you look REALLY BAD. Their insecurities force them to step on people to get ahead. They need an outlet to take their frustrations and stress out, so they seek out a weak target. That is just what they do, in order to survive the OFFICE world. In order to feel good about themselves, they need to make others look incompetent. It really is no different to the school playground when we are children.
This time, as adults though, it is much more than being picked on or having our lunch bag stolen. Bullies have caused children and teens to take their own lives or become so replete with anxiety and depression that they cannot function in life.
“Bullying is a national epidemic”- Macklemore
As adults, it becomes a very serious issue that can destroy your mental health, financial and job security and self esteem.
DON’T BE A TARGET-Get help
DON’T BE AN ENABLER-Don’t let a bully be a bully to you
PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR LIVELIHOOD-Speak with a professional or human services in your company. If you are not heard, speak out to whoever will hear you.