Topic of the Week The Devil Inside
The Devil Inside: Executive Summary:
- Stay Calm.
- Take Notes.
- Get Help.
- Escape May Be the Only Escape.
The Devil Inside: Coping With a Bully at Work
Bullies are not just a creature of the playground, they've invaded the workplace. 49% of us have either been bullied or seen a bully at work. A shocking 72% of bullies out rank their victim and 40% of bullies are women. Which reminds me of when police in Lincolnton, NC reported that would be thieves walked away empty handed after targeting five businesses in two blocks. They broke into five stores but had nada to show for it.
If we'd all work together, bullies could face that same failure rate. Yes, we can end the humiliation and insults, people who constantly toss your mistakes back in your face, broken promises and people who try to isolate you from your coworkers and all the stress that this entails. None of my strategies are intended to justify the bullies behavior or make you feel that you deserve the treatment your getting. The goal is to simply give you new tools for addressing them.
Stay Calm. It's tough to remain cool when someone is yelling in your face. A great strategy that a friend of uses is to whisper back to the screamer. Her experience is that its really tough for someone to keep yelling when you are so quiet in response. You can also try walking away or tuning them out. But I think the key is to watch how others manage the bully. Often there are lessons all around you but only if you pay close attention to what works.
Take Notes. Many powerful bullies have been toppled by a simple journal that notes the date, time, place, what was said or done and who was present. Don't think notes, think evidence. But it is very important that your notes be as accurate as possible. Never exaggerate.
Get Help. Bullies hate a fair fight. That's why such a large percentage of them pick on people beneath them in the chain of command. But there can be strength in numbers, so it's important to reach out to coworkers, your manager, other managers, unions, employee assistance program staff or Human Resources. Don't allow the bully to isolate you.
Escape May Be the Only Escape. It pains me to cite a study from Healthy Workplaces that shows that 75% of the people who were being bullied ended the treatment by leaving their position. It pains me because in this case the bully essentially has won. But unfortunately many companies allow the bullies to thrive by not taking their abuse seriously enough. That's why it's so important for us all to stand up when we see someone else being bullied. It's tough to do, but wouldn't you want someone to stand up for you if the positions were reversed?
Bullies with nothing to show for their efforts, a dream come true in the workplace. But it is going to take each and every one of us being ready to stick our necks out when we see people trying to take advantage of one another.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.