Workplace bullying has an enormous impact on other bullying on our society. To gain some power back, workplace-bullying victims search for weaker people in order to take that power from them. They search all around them for any person who appears weaker, even if that person is their partner, family member, friend or child.
If we want to stop bullying completely, we must have a holistic approach to it. We must help everyone involved in bullying, because bullying is a cycle that start with big bullies who feel inferior in some way and bully others to regain their sense of power, which makes their victims feel inferior in some way and bully others to regain their sense of power… can you see the cycle? Let’s stop it!
To stop bullying at work, we can help three entities: the victim, the bystanders (those who witness the bullying) and the organization who is suffering from it directly or indirectly by loss of working days, motivation and productivity. In the upcoming posts, I will write tips for each of these entities and what they can do to stop workplace bullying. Find out who you are and use these tips to make a difference where you work.
Bullying it is everyone’s business and sometimes, a single tip can make all the difference. You can stop workplace bullying by stopping the bully, but also by changing the behavior of the bullying victim.
How to help victims of workplace bullying (1-30)
- You must understand that a bullying act against you is not your fault. Every bully is weak. Whenever you experience bullying, or witness bullying, remember, the bully is weak, even if they seem stronger and with lots of power, they are trying to cover up this feeling of weakness through bullying. Remember this when someone bullies you at work and it will help you feel a bit better.
- Never accept the belief that someone hurt you because of something you have (not) done. Some bullies at work will criticize you in a bad way and make it sound like they are doing you a favor. It is not right even if you did something wrong. Trying to convince you that you “deserve” this attitude is a form of abuse.
- If you see some people at work as bullies, stay away from them if you can.
- Sometimes, you cannot keep away from a bully (like when it is your boss). In that case, lower your profile for a while and avoid friction until you find a solution.
- Establish relationships at work and try to work with others in the same space. Bullies pick on you more when you are by yourself.
- If you know of spaces that are targeted by bullies (toilet, eating area) go there with someone else.
- Get to work earlier or later if you can to make sure you are not going to cross those bullies on the way to and from work.
- If a bully approaches you, say, “I need to go” and leave before they have a chance to say anything.
- Do a good job, because that will limit the supply of ammunition bullies have against you. Bear in mind that bullies look for weaknesses, so doing a great job is not a guarantee you will not be bullied, but this will give you some confidence to fight back. Much of your status in the workplace is based on the quality of your work.
- Be accurate with your time. Always work the required number of hours, get to meetings on time and deliver your work to schedule. Again, it will decrease the amount of ammunition bullies have against you.
- Do not share secrets with people that may tell the bully. Secrets are weaknesses, because they can be used to expose you. If you do not want anyone to use your secrets against you, do not tell them to anyone. I have a great belief (I think I have learned it from my parents) that when a word comes out of your mouth, it is no longer yours, because anyone can manipulate and spread it the way they see fit.
- Get along with your boss. Many times, the bully is the boss, so if you are on his or her side, you are not a target. Even when the bully is someone else, your boss can be your best ally at work.
- There are many jobs out there. If things get out of control, find another job. It is not the end of the world. If you are afraid you will not get any recommendations and this is why you are staying, it means you are being blackmailed to stay. Chances are you will not get good recommendations anyway.
- Learn to take things in proportion. Not every conflict at work is bullying. Your managers need to make sure you are doing your job and when they point out a problem with your work, that is not considered bullying.
- If someone bribes you, be careful. This is a trap. When you have been bribed once, you have a weakness that can be exploited. Someone might use it against you when it suits them. When you receive a gift, make sure it is not a form of bribe.
- When there is verbal bullying, ignore it! Do not say anything in return because this says you are vulnerable. This is how bullies know it affects you – they say it once and you get angry, so they he know this is your weakness.
- When someone says something that annoys you, stay calm! It may be hard, so at least pretend to be calm. Bullies check to see if they have hit you in the right spot, so if you pretend calm, they cannot be sure and will try something else or someone else.
- Whatever happens, do not fight back! Take time to re-think things before you say or do something you may regret later on. Fighting back is what the bully wants you to do. Bullies love conflicts and will try to draw you into a conflict. Even if you feel humiliated, do not say anything to make the bully feel powerless, as that will only make them more aggressive.
- Find funny things to say. Humor is a good way to diminish an act of bullying.
- Do not take your anger and frustration out on your partner and kids. Share with them what is happening to you at work, ask for their help and they will comfort and support you. You can draw a lot of strength from having a loving family when you are back at work.
- Tell someone you trust about the bullying done to you.
- Understand that telling on someone who is a bully is not ratting. If you do not do it for yourself, think of other people who might get hurt next.
- When you walk, do not look at your feet. This sends a message to bullies that you are fearful and makes you a target. Pay attention to your body language in general, because looking slack or weak might trigger aggressive behavior in other people.
- Look people in the eye, because it projects confidence. Confidence is a bully repellent!
- Smile a lot. Again, it projects confidence. Confidence is a bully repellent!
- Keep a journal. To prevent you from getting depressed, write your feelings and thoughts in a journal. Keep it safe and if you are afraid of it being seen, you can use the computer and put it in a document that no one can open. If you ever need to recall bullying events, your journal will be invaluable.
- Learn to be assertive. Express your needs, thoughts and desires clearly, but without hurting anyone else. Assertiveness projects self confidence and keeps you away from bullies. This is a skill you will need for the rest of your life as well.
- When you speak, keep a steady voice. If your voice breaks, it sends a message that you are afraid. If you need to practice saying various things with confidence, do it at home. The best speakers in the world, who speak in front of thousands of people, stand in front of the mirror and practice what to say for hours. If you think they look confident, it is because after practicing saying it over and over again, they are confident in what they want to say. You can do the same!
- Never argue with a bully. Bullies create the conflicts to make you upset. Do not give him ammunition.
- When you are scared, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Often, you will realize that in the worst-case scenario, someone will say something unpleasant to you or about you, but it can be ignored, so it is not so bad.
There will be more workplace bullying tips next week, so come back and read.
This post is part of the series Bullying:
- Bullying Facts and Myth
- Bullying Statistics are Scary
- What is NOT Bullying?
- Types of Bullying
- Why Do People Bully?
- Victims of Bullying
- Bullying Bystanders
- Home of the bully
- Home of the bully (2)
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Bullying (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims
- How to Help Bullying Victims (2)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (3)
- How to Help Bullying Victims (4)
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders
- How to Help Bullying Bystanders (2)
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying
- How to Stop Workplace Bullying (2)
- How Workplace Bullying Bystanders Can Break the Cycle
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying
- How Organizations Can Stop Bullying (2)
- Bully Parents
- How to Stop Parental Bullying
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (2)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (3)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (4)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (5)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (6)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (7)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (8)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (9)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (10)
- How to Stop Parental Bullying (11)
- How to Stop Bullying with Empathy: The Story of Two Apples