Your place of work may not always be a fun, exciting space to be in. Rather, you may have to deal with ‘mean girls,’ condescending coworkers, and other workplace bullies. What can you do to stop their behaviors and improve your quality of life at work? Here are some tips for how to handle workplace bullying.
Assess the Full Situation (Are You Partly at Fault?)
Before you assume the bully is fully to blame, evaluate the entire situation. When did the behavior start? Was there something that triggered it? Did you do something first that may have upset the other person? This isn’t to say you did something wrong. You may have had no control over the situation. Look at the whole picture and see what your role is in it. This will point you toward the right solution.
Talk to the Person about Their Behavior
Once you have assessed the situation, you can talk to the bully about his or her behavior. The bully may not be aware of his actions, or how those actions are being perceived. Speak in a professional, non-confrontational manner. “There is an issue that has been bothering me, and I’d like to resolve it.” Explain which specific actions or statements have upset you, and suggest ways to avoid those transactions in the future. You might be surprised by how receptive the other person is to your suggestions.
Get Creative with How You Respond
In some cases, changing the way you respond to bullying will change the bullying itself. For instance, if someone is persistently making you feel dumb at work, say, “Could you please explain that in a different way?” or “Could you speak slower? I’m having a hard time understanding you.” This distributes the fault to both people – you for not understanding and the other person for not explaining properly. No one feels targeted or belittled. If the bullying continues after that, you may need to speak to someone of authority.
If Nothing Changes, Talk to a Supervisor or HR Rep
You’ve tried talking to the bully and other solutions, but nothing has happened. The next step is to talk to a trusted authority at your workplace. That may be your supervisor, the other person’s supervisor, or someone in human resources. Make a list of the bullying instances so you can reference them during the discussion. Be specific. Instead of saying, “I don’t like the way he talks to me,” mention the specific statements the bully has made to you. If you have emails, texts, or other written correspondence to back your story, bring that up as well. This will help the supervisor pinpoint the appropriate solution.
Discuss Your Feelings in Therapy
Dealing with a workplace bully can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to express that stress in therapy. Talk to your therapist about the experiences you’re having, and be transparent about them. Your therapist can evaluate the situation from a different perspective and suggest coping strategies tailored for you.
If you would like to get matched with a therapist near you, contact Sherman Counseling at 920-733-2065.