We have written articles about one of the most dreaded things in school or the workplace – bullies. A while back, our article “Bullying is a Problem for All Ages,” brought a response from someone who is bullied in what seems to be all facets of his/her work. It is hard to find the exact words to comfort and advise this person, as it seems he/she has tried about everything to remedy the situation. (I sincerely hope things are much better now.)
If you are in a work environment where you are constantly picked on, maybe the best thing to do is find another job. The cost of staying where you are may be higher than the cost of leaving. We’re not encouraging anyone to run away, we’re just saying there may be other options out there where you are not constantly subjected to someone who is manipulative, devious, and deceptive. Bullies get their start in school; we have offered advice to parents to be able to help their children know what to do to avoid the type of misery that bullies create.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Kill them with kindness?” Many times, a soft approach to a bully may be better than bristling up. They aren’t interested in anything that others think or feel, but rather in being a know-it-all, wrapped up in their own mini-world. I had a boss that thought he could build himself up by putting me and other coworkers down, especially in front of customers. Also, I worked with a lady that acted as though I was inferior to her, until one day, I got some backbone and finally stood up for myself; she was nice after that. I could list several ways that I let co-workers intimidate me, which I would handle differently if I could do it all over. But I can’t, so maybe this will help you overcome these uncomfortable times.
Don’t cower when someone treats you unkindly; be friendly, self-confident, calm, and assertive. Prepare yourself before you confront a bully. Let them know you are not going to be their target. Most “victims” are soft-hearted, gentile, unassertive, sensitive people. (I fit that bill a long time ago, maybe still do.) I don’t like confrontations, who does? But there comes a time when you decide you have as much right to come to work every day and be free from harassment as everyone else. You should establish a support group among your coworkers, and keep copies of everything – memos, emails, letters, that you have received from the person making your life miserable. Document everything, from the number of times, regularity, and patterns of the persecutions that happen. If it doesn’t stop, go to your supervisor or union representative.
Unfortunately, there are some companies that allow management to treat their employees in ways that are disrespectful, because those toughies seem to get more production out of their workers. In this case, if your boss is the bully, it may be difficult to overcome the situation you are in. You need to try to get along with your boss if possible. Follow the lead of a co-worker that seems to please him/her. If this is impossible, then do the best you can while looking for another place of employment. Management should not tolerate bullies; it should be unacceptable in any business that others should suffer, when it would be easier to terminate one bully, than lose several good employees. They might discover that employees are more productive when they are at ease.
You won’t be a victim of a bully if you work on your self-esteem, stand up for yourself, and are friendly, strong and assertive. You have as much right to be in your place of employment as the bully. Just do your job and try your best to ignore the person that never grew up after junior high school. Remember – you are above the level that he/she lives on.