Workplace bullying is a real problem, it happens all over the place, and it isn’t easy to manage. I know from experience.
I just proposed to my wife, and she was wearing the engagement ring that I was still making payments. I just started a contract job with a small painting company and was very excited to do some hard work and get that ring paid off, so I didn’t have to worry about it come the wedding day. Little did I know that being a new contractor, I was in for some very intensive on-the-job training. Every day that I painted, I had someone watching and swearing at me. When I did something wrong, it got even worse. I learned some valuable skills, but once I got that ring paid off, I quit. I was fortunate to have another job and be working during that period, but it was the first time in my life that I had very low self-esteem.
Unfortunately for me, there was little option for me to make the bullying stop in the contracting job. My company didn’t have an HR department or standards that the company was forced to adhere to. If I said anything about it, I would have just been fired. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you.
Defining Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying is defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) as
“Abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; any work interference/sabotage that prevents work from getting done; verbal abuse.”
The bully typically needs to control their targets, and they are very meticulous about selecting the proper target, timing, location, and methods of bullying. They could be making fun, unwanted pranks, withholding essential resources (such as keeping someone off of an email chain with important memos). There may cohere people to join in and side with the bully, and the bullying will typically take precedence over the work itself.
If, after reading the definition of workplace bullying, you believe that you have been or are being bullied (or if you are a concerned friend or family member), there are two things you need to know:
- You are not alone
- You did not cause this bullying to happen.
I want you to know that there are ways to fix this; you don’t have to live with your current work conditions.
- Name your Situation – You need to recognize that you are experiencing a legitimate phenomenon. Call it bullying, psychological violence, or emotional abuse- you need to name it. Giving it a name legitimizes your situation.
- Take Time Off to Heal and Prepare – Getting ready will require a clear head, and you need to be able to enjoy some time alone and with your family to get prepared to launch your counterattack.
- Check-in on your mental and physical health, as these can be significantly damaged by workplace harassment.
- Look into legal options (25% of all workplace bullying cases resulting from discrimination) and company policies on harassment.
- Prepare a business case against the bully.
- Be ready for retaliation.
- Start a job search for your next position.
- Expose the Bully –
- Be prepared to leave; targets lost their jobs in 77.7% of cases either voluntarily for health’s sake or involuntarily.
- Make the business case that the bully is “too expensive to keep” to the highest level person you can reach (who is not closely associated with the bully).
- Stick to the bottom line; if you start talking about personal stories, you may be discredited.
- Give your employer one chance to fix it; if they side with the bully, it is time to leave. In some cases, employers are only looking for a reason to let the bully go.
- If you must leave, make sure you tell everyone about the bully and that you had to go for your health’s sake.
We all deal with difficult people in our lives, but workplace bullies are an entirely different breed. By following these steps, you will do wonders for your health.
Tim Dimoff Speaks About Bullying
Tim Dimoff is an expert on workplace bullying, and he can help your organization put an end to this issue once and for all. Call (330)730-3424 or fill Contact Tim to have him come to your workplace today.