From a hot-button topic to a real-life occurrence, bullying is something everyone is familiar with.
Though the conversation surrounding bullying seems to taper off after high school, harassment certainly doesn’t. In fact, bullying is a very real issue in the modern-day workplace, seeing that the United States has passed zero laws pertaining to bullying in the workplace.
Bullying can harm your general well-being in your personal and professional life. This is why it’s imperative to understand how to deal with bullies at work.
What is Bullying in the Workplace?
Amongst professionals and HR managers, bullying can often be confused with harassment; nonetheless, bullying and harassment are two separate actions.
According to the U.S. Employment of Equal Employment Commission, harassment is “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.”
Harassment in the office is an unacceptable offense and deemed unlawful under the Civil Rights Act.
If you think that you are being harassed based on the previous qualifiers, it is best to report the incidence(s) to your supervisor or human resources department.
As mentioned before, bullying is often associated with schoolyard arguments amongst peers; however, bullying is quite universal.
Bullying, according to stopbullying.gov, is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
Additionally, there are several types of bullying, including verbal, social, or physical.
This can mean being talked down upon by peers or being purposefully excluded from work functions, like meetings, to hurt one’s feelings.
Unlike harassment, bullying is not unlawful in the workplace; however, actions can be taken to combat bullying in the workplace.
4 Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with Bullies at Work
Bullying is a sensitive topic, especially in an office setting. Here’s what you need to know to combat it.
1. You’re not alone
According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI), 19% of Americans are bullied, and another 19% witness it annually. That means bullying can affect almost 40% of an office, resulting in weakened trust, morale, and productivity.
While this statistic doesn’t decrease the pain a person feels during instances of harassment, it may serve to alleviate the feeling of helplessness that often follows an attack.
If you or one of your coworkers is a victim of bullying, the first step is to breathe and remind yourself you’re not alone in this fight, and you have support.
2. Set boundaries
Most of us have heard the advice, “Say ‘yes’ to more things,” but it’s completely understandable, and oftentimes healthier, to say ‘no.’ In an effort to manage conflict in the workplace, practice learning how to deal with bullies at work by setting boundaries.
Properly articulating your boundary is imperative, so try using an ‘I Statement’ as follows: “I feel _____ when ______ because ______. What I need is ______.”
For example, if a bully is bombarding you with condescending questions in an effort to overwhelm you or make you feel incompetent, try saying, “I feel overwhelmed when you ask me all of these questions because I can only focus on one thing at a time. What I need is for you to respect my space by asking me one question at a time.”
The more specific you can be, the less pushback you will receive from a bully.
3. Work to live, don’t live to work
If there’s ever been a time to really prioritize work-life-balance, now is that time. Reminding yourself that you have hobbies, friends, and a life outside of work will help negate feelings of helplessness in relation to bullying.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, more than 40% of employees overlook aspects of their personal life because of work. This leads to 27% of employees feeling depressed, 34% feeling anxious, and 58% feeling irritable.
While working a job is a fact of life for many, it shouldn’t be to the detriment of your personal life. According to MHF, the more time you spend at work, the more time you spend outside of the office thinking about work. So make sure that you are prioritizing tasks, using time efficiently, and asking for help or adjustment to your workload when need be. And when the clock strikes five, it’s time to head out.
4. Explore support from your company
Often companies have programs in place to deal with matters regarding mental and physical health, such as Godaddy’s SupportLinc or Uhaul’s You Matter Program. Both programs cover everything from counseling to financial guidance, in hopes of easing any stress that may prevent employees from being the best version of themselves.
If you haven’t already checked out what support systems your company offers, give it a look, and if you can’t find anything, consider bringing that concern to your supervisor.
Get the support you deserve
If you’re wondering how to deal with bullies at work, try out these tips, and don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it.
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