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How to stop office bullies, the bloodless way

by Celine on January 22nd, 2008

Remember that big kid who would stomp on your sandcastles when you were 5 years old? Guess what, he graduated and moved into your office. Quite possibly next to your own cubicle. However, unlike sandbox politics, you can’t just cry and hope that your preschool teacher notices you. Here are some tips on how you can stop office bullies:

Identify bullies first. Sometimes, it’s hard for you to find out which people are bullying you. Maybe it’s because you think they’re your friends. Maybe their being subtle about it. According to a PDF from the Michigan Technological University, bullies behave like this:

  • Distorts truth and reality
  • Charming in public - two faced
  • Blames others for errors
  • Bullies tend to be insecure people
  • A bully doesn’t want to hear the other side of the story
  • Does not try to understand or get another’s point of view
  • A bully needs to control people
  • Makes inappropriate comments about appearance, lifestyle
  • Takes credit for others’ work

If you know anyone who’s blaming you for their mistakes and taking credit for your work, they’re bullying you. Even if they are your “friends”.

In the heat of a bully’s aggression, keep your cool. If your bully starts being verbally abusive by calling you names, or he starts raising his voice. Just be still and silent for as long as you can possibly hold it. Things will escalate if you fall into his trap of aggression.

Know what to say. If you have some prepared statements to deal with your bully, you’ll be less nervous when he’s pushing you around or when you’re in direct confrontation. Keep your statements calm, composed, and free from aggression.  Don’t say anything your bully would say.  Try saying “I’m sorry, but I’m feeling a bit ill and can’t do this right now” or  “You seem a bit tense, let’s just talk another time”.  If you can’t figure out the words, you can simply walk away.

Get it documented.  If you don’t have a witness, you can make a written report about the incident.  Immediately send this report to your human resources department, or to the company counselor.

Report it. Speak to a colleague or manager about bullying incidents. You can also contact union representatives. You’ll find that most companies are willing to work on these incidents swiftly, even if technically, bullying isn’t illegal.

Don’t be an easy target. Quiet, passive personalities are the favorite targets of office bullies. Why? Because passive people give bullies the power they want.  Don’t leave any expensive or significant objects lying around for your bully to find, either.

Have you ever been bullied in the workplace?  If so, how did you deal with it?

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POSTED IN: Workplace Wellness, Workplace hacks, Workplace pimps

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