There will always be that set of people who create a hostile working environment and many often get away with their behavior.
Sometimes, they do deliberately and sometimes they just don’t know any better. But, that’s no reason for you to put up with it.
In Part 1 of this post, I wrote about identifying the classic signs of a bully at work.
This post talks about how to deal with bullies at work. Tips on what to do and how to improve your situation.
I’ve seen my fair share of these people across the years. Bullies don’t just hamper productivity but, their actions can be severely damaging to people’s mental health and self-esteem.
I’m not saying you are to blame. However, sometimes we need to look at ourselves to determine whether we are making ourselves an easy target.
It may be worth looking at your actions to understand whether there is something you can do differently to avoid being picked on.
Avoid situations where you may encounter a bully.
If however, you can’t help it, below are some other tactics you could use.
Bullies are often cowards.
They put on a persona to fit in or to compensate for their own insecurities. So sometimes, all you need to do is have the courage to stand up for yourself.
Your first step should be to try and have a level-headed conversation with them. Ask them politely to stop. This is effective with the jokers and the gossip queens.
Sometimes a strong stance can prove effective. If a bully is constantly shouting at you, shouting back could be the only way. But do this with caution, because you don’t want to end up crossing a line.
This is an ugly truth, but passive aggressiveness often works. However, it is by no means the appropriate behavior in the workplace and should be a temporary solution.
Sometimes you have no choice but to resist indirectly. You just play along with the aggressor but then end up doing the work on your own terms.
Aggressors often just want a public display of authority and agreeing with them on the face of it could just be the easiest way to get them off your back.
Find other people who are being affected by the bully. This can be very effective in stopping every kind of bully.
Create strength in numbers.
Most people isolate targets to pick on. They do this with individuals one at a time. So, if you can rally up the troops and face this bully together, you stand a better chance of getting them to realize and stop their behavior.
Involving your manager or even HR
Sometimes telling the teacher is the only way.
If you’re being bullied by a coworker, speak to your manager. Ask them to help you an appropriate solution. Don’t just go and complain and expect the manager to punish the bully.
Go to your manager with possible solutions on how you think the situation can be improved. This is often the only action to take against the con artist.
If your manager ignores your discussions or worse still, if your manger is actually the bully, going to HR may be your only resort. But, proceed with extreme caution. Going to HR is often the final step and can lead to severe consequences.
If you have a weak HR department, this action could backfire.
I once had a situation where the person I had complained about was simply told about my actions instead of actually having a sit down with consequences. The guy ended up harassing me even more. At which point, I had to shout back and, ultimately leave the department… which brings me to my next point.
Leaving the company
If none of the actions you take works, you may have to decide to leave the company. While this is a very difficult step to take, nothing is worth your sanity.
If a company’s management cannot be bothered to rectify a situation and promote a healthy working environment, then maybe you shouldn’t be working in that company.
Remember, senior management and leaders have duty to ensure that they do not condone a hostile and toxic work environment.
Recognize the signs of bullying and stop it!