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Have You Been Bullied at Work? Here's How to Handle Work Place Bullying

Bullying

Studies show that between 50% and 75% of people have been bullied at work. So even if you haven't experienced it for yourself, you will likely have witnessed others being subjected to bullying.

It can be a grossly uncomfortable and wholly inappropriate situation for what should be a place that models professional adult interactions.

Unfortunately there remains those people that did not evolve beyond the playground and insist on using manipulative and undermining tactics to get their way in the workplace. If you find yourself or others being belittled, intentionally excluded, devalued, degraded or shouted over, it may be time to take action.

Being the victim of such tactics and experiencing doubt in yourself or your work can have devastating effects. But remember - you ultimately retain the power to recognise their behaviour as universally unacceptable and you should feel empowered and in the right to point it out as such.

Confront

A word that many will not associate with favourably. Confrontation doesn't have to be a heated argument resulting in who can yell louder. Confrontation can be as simple as:

  • "Do you have a second to chat? There are a few things I'm finding quite challenging about your approach."
  • "I don't think this is especially effectual. I think we can work better together."

And point out some of their specific behaviours that challenge you:

  • "Please, I'd appreciate if you would not interrupt me or speak over me in meetings."
  • "If you have concerns with any of my work, please come to me first."

Keep this conversation as matter-of-fact as possible. You can't be wrong about how they've made you feel, but it needs to be explained as objectively as possible.

Identify them

Point out to a co-worker, manager or to HR that you are experiencing undue, misappropriated attention from a certain individual. Again, this needs to be explained as unemotionally as possible, so try to avoid words like hurtful or mean. Provide specific examples of the events or conversations that you have been subjected to and how you feel they could have been handled differently.

Document

Document. Document. Document. Once you've recognised the problem, you should all the while document the instances of bullying in a spreadsheet. Date, time, nature, witnesses. Keep it concise and factual. Don't let it turn into a gossip column.

Whistle blow

Once the offender knows their behaviour is noticeably unjust there is no reason for it to continue. Short of getting a real whistle and blowing it like mad whenever their bullying rears its ugly head, call it out publically. Be unapologetic! When they start to undermine your point of view in a meeting, make it clear it is not acceptable., "Your manner and tone continues to be unprofessional. You should excuse yourself if you cannot conduct yourself more appropriately."


While some of these steps might feel daunting, verging on overwhelming, and completely out of character, you must recognize bad behaviour for what it is, and that it will continue unless addressed. If needed, do it politely or subtly at first. Finding your voice is the hardest part, putting them in their place will come easy.

Team Vanna

Vanna's expert writing team

4 min read

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