Intimidation at work is not only frustrating but destructive as well. It can reduce productivity and lower a person’s self esteem and confidence to the point of depression. No matter what form the intimidation takes, you do not have to be a victim. There are things you can do to protect yourself from others who try and instigate arguments or make you feel as if you are being threatened.
Intimidation at Work: Know your company’s protocols when it comes to dealing with abusive co-workers
Find out what your options are within your company when it comes to reporting specific incidents of abuse. Often times, there are protocols that must be followed, especially if the one doing the bullying is a superior or a high level member of management. With the increased number of reports of harassment and intimidation at work, companies are taking a proactive stance on the situation. New, stricter zero tolerance policies are being implemented in an attempt to prevent bullying between co-workers and members of management.
Intimidation at Work: Learn to walk away
Although this may seem like you are letting the other person get the best of you, quite the contrary. By not feeding into the negativity, you eliminate any action that could be used against you if the other person provokes you into a verbal skirmish. Most bullies look for ways to get other co-workers in trouble and make themselves look better. Walking away leaves the negativity in their court. The more they choose to pursue it, the worse it looks on them.
Intimidation at Work: Know your legal rights
If the offender is a co-worker or member of management, you can rely on certain laws to protect you, especially if the incident is of a sexual nature. In cases, where negative rumors and comments have cost you a promotion or had an adverse effect on your career and reputation in the workplace, slander and liable charges may be applicable, To file a lawsuit of any kind, you must have substantial and verifiable proof, of both the comments and their direct impact on your work situation.
Intimidation at Work: Confront your bully
In some situations, a person will start rumors or gossip without directly harassing you. If you can tactfully confront the instigator, they may choose to leave you alone if they are made to understand you are not going to allow their actions to affect your work performance or career goals. If you do confront the person, it is vitally important to remain calm and not allow them to engage you in any type of unprofessional behavior. If you feel that you may not be able to calmly handle the situation, go to a member of management and allow them to take care of the situation.
Intimidation at Work: Don’t underestimate your abilities
While we all have room for improvement, bullies often try to make their victims feel as if they cannot perform their job or have no worth within the company. Since many acts of intimidation at work are perpetrated by supervisors and members of management, employees often take the berating comments as truth, when in actuality they have no merit whatsoever. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you feel you are being unduly harassed or someone is trying to intimidate you for any reason, speak with a superior to find out what options are available to you.
Over a 15 year span from 1998 to 2011, the number of reports of intimidation and harassment that occurred within the workplace jumped from 25 to 50 percent, This included reports of being accosted at least one time per week by many of the individuals surveyed. Signs to look for if you believe a person may be experiencing harassment or intimidation include:
- Dramatic decrease in productivity
- Withdrawn behavior
- Easily irritated
- Extremely self conscious of appearance or work performance
If you notice any of these signs in a co-worker. Talk to them about it. Victims of intimidation often keep quiet about the incidents and comments because they think they are alone in the situation. Letting them know that others will back them up or support them in their decision to report a co-worker or member of management may give them the courage to step out of the shadow of being a victim.
Strength is found in numbers. If one person speaks up, odds are others will too. If a person is bullying one person, it is extremely likely he or she has gotten away with bullying others in the past. Choose not to be a victim. Know your options and actively pursue them.