We all thought we were done dealing with bullies after middle school, but unfortunately this behaviour does continue into adulthood. If you’ve been the victim of teasing, verbal threats, emotional abuse, or any other form of negative treatment in your workplace, you are being bullied. It is not normal and it is not okay for your boss or co-workers to treat you this way. Here’s a rundown of how to solve the problem of workplace bullying.
Stay cool, especially when they’re throwing light barbs, or being passive-aggressive. Just like when you were on the playground, it’s important not to react emotionally to a bully. They want you to get upset. They’re looking for a physical reaction. Don’t give them the satisfaction. If you ignore the behaviour, there’s a good chance they will stop because they’re not getting anything out of the interaction.
Talk to them. Sit down with the person and explain how their actions are affecting you. As unlikely as it seems, they may not be aware of how hurtful their comments can be. Try not to be accusatory, just calmly explain what is happening from your point of view. Hopefully this will help resolve the situation.
If your pleas are ignored, it’s time to bring in an outside party. It’s important to have documented everything that has happened up until this point: everything they have done, your attempts to stop it. Most reputable employers have specific policies against workplace bullying and abuse, and they’ll have a procedure for dealing with it. This can include a verbal or written warning, or even termination if the bullying continues.
Now, depending on who the bully is (such as someone you work closely with) this step may change the workplace dynamic. They may resent you for “ratting them out.” Do not fear this reaction. It is important to stop verbal and emotional abuse wherever it happens. Your workflow with adjust to the change.
Unfortunately, some workplaces do not have anti-bullying policies, or simply do not have good HR departments. Getting your supervisor involved may not change anything, except to make the bullying worse. This is when you can employ another elementary school anti-bullying tactic: stand up to them. Don’t get angry, just simply explain to them, in the moment, that what they just said was inappropriate and that you do not appreciate the behaviour. This will likely create a very uncomfortable and awkward moment in the break room, especially if there are other people around, but that’s ok. Bullies do not like being called out on their inappropriate conduct. It may take a few instances of this to make them stop.
If none of these steps are effective in ending the workplace bullying, it’s time to look for a new job. Nothing is worth staying in a toxic work environment, and if this employer allows these abusive actions to continue, they do not deserve you. Quietly start your job search, and once you have found one that’s a good fit, quit. It’s that simple. Advance your career and never look back. You’ll be much happier in the long run.