The 3 R’s for dealing with workplace bullying
If you feel you’re being bullied in any way, simply refuse the attack. In other words, don’t engage the person who is bullying you. Walk away, ignore it, or don’t acknowledge the behavior. Yes, sometimes this is very difficult, especially if someone is yelling at you or pushing your buttons. But engaging with the person in the same manner he or she is attacking you will only spiral the situation out of control. Usually, not engaging the bully and showing that his or her words or actions have no effect will make the person go away.
If the bullying action includes you being ignored or ostracized, you need to take the lead and initiate a conversation with the person. State that you feel you are being ignored and why this behavior is impeding your ability to get the job done. Make sure you focus on the behavior rather than the person specifically to reduce the chances of the person becoming defensive.
- Report It
If you cannot handle the bullying situation yourself, you need to talk to someone who can make a difference. Depending on the situation, this could mean talking with your boss, HR manager, or even a manager in another department. Keep going up the chain of command until you find someone who can intervene on your behalf. If no one within your organization seems willing or able to help, you may want to file a complaint against the bully with your industry’s professional organization (if you have one). Fortunately, almost anything can be worked out if both parties are open to it. You simply need to find someone to act as a moderator if talking one-on-one with the bully isn’t an option.
A Bully-Free Future
With all this said, realize that a leader who is tough or demanding is not necessarily a bully. All bosses have the right and obligation to set and uphold high standards of performance, as long as they exercise fairness, respect, and objectivity in their dealings with subordinates and others. Therefore, to differentiate whether your boss is being a bully or simply being tough, check if you or your co-workers are being singled out in a negative or demeaning way. Bullying is often a personal attack; leading in a firm and focused way is not.
The only way to curb workplace bullying is to tackle the issue head on. The more awareness people have of the topic, and the more prepared they are to deal with it, the more progress companies will make to end the problem once and for all.
Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D. is a healthcare industry executive, public speaker and author of the forthcoming “Turnaround.” Through her work she inspires people to dream big and understand the role of personal responsibility in personal and professional success. In her first book, “Power from Within,” Danita shares her “Power Principles for Success” that helped her overcome meager beginnings and achieve professional, community and personal success. For more information visit www.danitajohnsonhughes.com, or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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