Even though companies are increasingly aware of the insidious damage workplace bullying does, it still happens. Fixing the problem takes time to weed out the bad actors. Sometimes it’s your boss. Sometimes it’s a coworker. Bullying can make you hate your job and fear coming to the workplace.
Hopefully, this isn’t you, but if it is, Monique Caissie, writing for Huffington Post, has put together a helpful list of five things you can do to protect yourself from a bully and how to tell when it’s just time to pack up your things and go.
1. Learn how to speak up
There’s no reason a person who’s bullying you will ever stop if they don’t get any pushback from you. Stand your ground and speak up to tell the bully you expect to be treated more respectfully and professionally. Tell them this every time they abuse you, if necessary, calmly and with as much confidence as you can muster. They need to be called on their behavior, or they’ll think they can get away with it. Even if it only works for a while, you’ll feel less like a doormat.
2. Find out the troublemaker’s backstory to see if you can expect help
Sometimes, there are employees who are so valuable to a company — or to whom the company feels so indebted — that nobody above the bully is going to step in and help. Likewise, if the person has successfully hidden the bullying from superiors or is close friends with a higher-up, it’s possible they won’t really even listen to your complaints. Consider getting another job.
3. Learn your legal rights
There are a few good reasons to worry about trying to get help with the bully from management. You might fear retaliation, and you might be scared that if you do quit, you won’t be able to get unemployment. Find a free local legal clinic to find out what your rights in this situation really are instead of guessing.
4. Take some time to heal after suffering from bullying
Let’s say the bullying has just stopped. You got help from management, or you got a new job. Given how emotionally bruising bullying is, try and set aside some time to heal. If you can, wait a few days before starting the new job or get serious about finding ways to relax a little and heal. Be gentle with yourself until the abuse is as fully in the past as possible. And let it go ASAP, if you can.
5. Help others to empower yourself
You’re probably not the bully’s only victim. After protecting yourself, see what kind of help you can offer the others being bullied. Maybe you can offer strategy tips; maybe you can help simply by listening, understanding, and making the other person feel less alone in dealing with the bully.
It’s great that there’s a growing awareness of bullying, and hopefully bullies will come to understand that this behavior needs to stop for everyone’s benefit, including their own.
An organizational culture that fosters bullying or allows it to slip through the cracks will suffer and continue to suffer until these issues are resolved.