‘Hey *Sue, have you actually called the client and sorted out that mess you created?’ the office bully called out across the open plan office. Immediately my client cringed and sank back into her seat, wishing for it to be over.
How would you handle something like this?
There are different types of bullies and their behaviour is equally damaging. The Muse outline them in their article; Don’t Let Workplace Bullies Win – The Aggressive Communicator, Disparagement and Humiliation, Manipulation and Withholding of Resources, and Behind the Scenes Meddling My suggestions for handling a bully are:
- Roll out your assertiveness skills and call out their behaviour by asking them not to speak to you in that way. The sooner you do this the more likely you are to nip their behaviour in the bud and let them know you’re not putting up with it.
- Begin to note the instances of what happened, what was said, how you responded. Look for themes in your behaviour and theirs and see if you can work out a way of engaging with them differently.
- As you work to stem their bullying and undermining behaviour by respectfully challenging them, look to see if it’s having an impact. Then do more of what’s working. Check progress and assess it as unemotionally as you can.
- If you are feeling like you can, put together a framework of points you’d like to discuss with them, what you think their worst responses would be and jot it all down. Then book a meeting with them to discuss the impact their behaviour is having on you.
- Raise it with your boss. Let them know what you have done and ask for help.
- Find out what the company policy is about bullying.
- If your boss does nothing, raise it with HR.
- If all else fails, get a new job.
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