Upon exiting the world of academics it is only natural to believe that we will move past such childish, immature, and hurtful things as bullying. We aren’t supposed to tolerate it at any point in our lives and this goes doubly so for in the office. With the common thought being that bullying is wrong, and has no place in business, why do so many office workers all over the world feel like they are being pushed around and attacked? Bullying in the office setting may not be as common, or severe, as bullying in our adolescent but that does not make it any less serious. Let us take a look at what an office bully typically does and how to remedy the situation of office bullying.
The Different Ways to Identify Workplace Bullying
According to About.com 54 million Americans have been attacked, or bullied, while at their job. This number is simply astounding for something that so often goes unreported and unresolved. With so many incidents happening every single day, adding up to millions a year, there have to be common threads by which to identify them.
In the initial stages of office bullying most potential victims feel stress, anxiety, and a feeling of dread every day before work. Now, this series of feelings may not immediately get attached to their tormentor but it will eventually happen. A lot of times there is only one source of bullying, or one instigator, and those aforementioned feelings seem exacerbated while around them. This is the most common setting for bullying.
The actual bullying itself can occur in a variety of different ways. Many times office bullying will come from those in a position of power taking out their anxieties and insecurities on their charges. A bigtime boss can yell at his or her secretary, for any little thing, without fearing repercussion. It’s all in the ranking of the individual.
Another form of bullying can occur from coworkers who constantly try to talk over their victim, make them embarrassed, or even steal credit for the work that they do. This antagonistic behavior isn’t always obvious. The most effective bullies will be able to do it in such a way so as not to be culpable for their behavior.
The final form of bullying occurs when the victim isn’t even in the room. The bully will spread lies and twist information about their victim to the other workers in the office. They will spend time gossiping, picking apart their mistakes, and actively trying to sabotage their place in the company. Not only is this a terrible thing to do on a personal level but it also effects the victims future with the company.
Breaking Down the Numbers: You’re Not Alone
According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, 35% of American workers have spent time being bullied. An additional 15% of Americans have witnessed bullying first hand, whether or not they did anything to actually stop it. A full 50% of the American population has spent time watching or dealing with some form of bullying. For an environment that should always maintain an air of professionalism–these numbers are scary.
Digging further into the study showed that bosses, or workers in positions of power, made up almost 75% of all bullies in the workplace and the majority of them were men. This study shows that women were also the most bullied gender. Of all those bullied, almost half of them experienced some sort of physical health related problem. So, yes, bullying is reaching almost epidemic levels.
How to Deal With Bullying
When dealing with a bully in the workplace there are many ways that you can react to the situation. Sadly, most people choose to flee. They either quit their job or run away from every situation that involves the bullying figure. This has dramatic consequences on their personal and financial well being—not to mention the principle of the situation. While fleeing the situation can occasionally be the right choice, it is definitely not the only choice.
The first step you should take when dealing with a bully is to establish what you are willing to tolerate. If you can handle the occasional jab of bullying and not let it get the better of you, continue on and perchance the bully will tire. Otherwise you will need to martial your courage and practice our second step.
The second step you should take is to have a conversation with the bully while on company property. Approach them and detail, without making the details more dramatic than they are, their abuses. It is possible that they didn’t realize what they were doing. It is also possible that your direct confrontation will push them away. In any event, a resolution without escalation is to be desired here.
The third step that you can take is to get a feel for the rest of your co-workers. Do any of them have experience with this bully? Will they vouch for you if you need to confront him or speak to a supervisor? Get information from them and try to establish a history of repeated abuse amongst the rest of staff. A boss may roll his eyes at one complaining employee, but if there are two or three in front of his door then the situation changes.
The last step that you can take, if the prior two have failed, is to escalate the situation. Write down and document all of the abuses that you can remember from the bully and bring them to the attention of your supervisor or, even better, the Human Resources department. Here you will get your chance to set the record straight and try to find a resolution. H.R. should be invested in finding a solution to your issue. Not only is the bully causing you emotional stress but he or she is also costing the company money off of the bottom line.
Always Stay Strong
Dealing with a bully in the workplace is hard, aggravating, and depressing. With that said we strongly urge you to never lose hope or give up ground. The bully is only as strong as you let him be and if you have the drive to deter them, you will eventually find success.