The most common question we get about bullying is: “How do I deal with bullying in the workplace?”
Bullying is always about power. The strategies you use on a bully should directly connect to the level of influence you have with them, which often feels very little.
Here are 3 tips to help combat workplace bullying.
- Bullies respect push back.
Find a power source to tap into, and use it. Think of the eighth-grader who finally stops the punch aimed for his face. What can you catch and turn around on your bully? If this sounds impossible, don’t fake it. Instead, try naming the bullying behaviour directly: “There’s no need to raise your voice.”
- Never bluff a boundary.
Whenever you set a boundary with someone about what action you will take if they continue to be abusive, you can expect it to be tested. If you do not have the authority, power or intent to follow through you send the message that your boundary is breakable, which invites the behaviour to continue or worsen. Think about which boundaries you are prepared to follow through. For example: “If you can’t stop swearing, I’ll have to leave,” and be ready to walk away if they continue.
- Keep it practical.
Contrary to recommendations you might find on the internet, don’t tell a bully how they made you feel. They don’t care how you feel, that’s why they’re bullying you. You won’t motivate them to stop by giving them the satisfaction that they hurt you. Instead, tell them directly how their behaviour is getting in the way of their own goals. For example, you might say, “When you speak to me like that, I don’t understand what you really mean.”
While dealing effectively with a bully is always uncomfortable, it should never be unsafe. Contact resources within your organization for help, or feel free to contact us at The Neutral Zone for a free and private phone consultation with no obligation. Read about our mediation and intervention services.