The workplace is meant to be a space of collaboration, growth, and mutual respect. However, encountering an office bully can disrupt this harmony and lead to a toxic work environment.
Here are effective strategies for dealing with office bullies, empowering you to regain control and maintain your professional dignity by BetterUp:
The moment a colleague oversteps boundaries, make it clear that you recognise their behavior as abusive and will not tolerate mistreatment. This proactive approach helps prevent further escalation and sends a message that inappropriate behavior will not go unchecked.
Whether this interaction takes place face-to-face or in a virtual setting, adopt a power pose to bolster your confidence, such as standing with a wide stance and squared shoulders. This also conveys a sense of authority, particularly in in-person encounters.
Keep Detailed Records
Maintain a journal that meticulously outlines the key details – who, what, when, where, and why – of meetings, face-to-face interactions, and phone conversations. Print out problematic emails, and in case your performance is ever questioned, retain a record of measurable accomplishments from your projects, as well as any compliments and recognitions of your work.
By doing so, you’ll have concrete evidence to substantiate your claims and protect yourself from attempts at manipulation or denial from the bully.
Familiarise Yourself with HR Policies
While bullying may not be unlawful, many companies have established HR policies against mistreatment, verbal abuse, and intimidation. Refer to your employee handbook for guidance on the organisation’s values and expectations for employee behavior. If you choose to escalate the issue to management, leverage this information to bolster your case.
If attempting to resolve the matter internally proves unsuccessful, consider seeking advice from an employment law attorney to explore your available options. Some lawyers offer complimentary consultations, while others may charge a nominal fee.
Present a Business Case
Another approach is to make a broader case against bullying to upper management, advocating for the implementation of more robust policies. While it may seem detached, your plea for intervention may be better received as a business-focused argument. Frame the issue as one that affects the company as a whole.
Quantify the cost of the bully’s behavior in terms of turnover, reduced productivity, absenteeism, etc. Use your documentation to highlight specific instances of wasted time and resources.
Clearly outline the anticipated outcomes of this process and articulate the consequences if the results fall short of your expectations.
Initiate Your Job Search
Unfortunately, victims of workplace bullying sometimes find it necessary to seek alternative employment to escape mistreatment. If you believe you’ve exhausted all other avenues, consider searching for a workplace that prioritises an anti-bullying culture and values employee well-being.
Also see: 5 Strategies to follow when job hunting