By Catherine Adenle
Feeling bullied at work or anywhere? Then, it’s time for you to put a bully on blast! Remember, as a professional, you spend an average of 7 hours a day at work. Over time, that adds up to a substantial chunk of your life, so an unhappy work environment situation for you can make your daily work life miserable. Don’t suffer in silence, it’s time for you to speak up and put a bully on blast!
Shockingly, two of the most searched phrases on this blog every year are ‘How to deal with a bully at work’ and ‘Dealing with workplace bullying’. In addition, my most widely read, shared and commented on posts are the ones written about bullying in the workplace. My translation of this information is that bullying is far more prevalent in the workplace than realised by leaders and staff in organisations. So, why won’t you put a bully on blast if they make you miserable at work?
Frankly, it’s a shame that bullying exists anywhere, including the workplace. Bullying is a kind of plague that negatively affects people and how they function either at work or at home. Such plagues at work or anywhere need to be eradicated by everyone, including you if you feel bullied.
Unfortunately, bullies exist and will continue to exist in all workplaces and offices, unless we all take actions by putting them on blast to the authorities at work. For instance, the Zogby study, in conjunction with the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI), found that:
Other surveys (by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, TUC, UMIST, Staffordshire University Business School) suggest that bullying is happening to between 3 and 14 million employees in the UK, and from extensive feedback, pro rata in other countries.
So, if you currently feel bullied at work, see case histories for the similarities between your case and those of others. Then, after reading this post, plan how to ‘out’ the bully. Put them on blast by saying something to the authority at work.
Simply put, I see any type of behaviour that’s physical, mental, humiliating, socially threatening, in a verbal or non-verbal way as bullying.
According to the guide, ‘Bullying at work: how to tackle it. A guide for MSF representatives and members: MSF 1995’, bullying is persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, abuse of power, or unfair punishment which upsets, threatens and/or humiliates the recipient(s), undermining their self-confidence, reputation and ability to perform.
When it comes to bullying in the workplace or anywhere, nothing should be taken lightly. However, as professionals, work is where we spend most of our time and where we are expected to do great work, and also co-exist peacefully with our colleagues. However, as bullies exist everywhere including the workplace, sometimes it is difficult for anyone feeling bullied at work to focus and do a good job because bullies typically cause stress for the persons they bully. Steadily, they severely damage the self-esteem and confidence of whoever is at the receiving end of their bullying behaviour.
At work, bullying can happen in different forms. For instance, a continuous deliberate attempt to belittle, control or undermine someone is bullying. Usually, bullying typically happens over a prolonged period of time. It can take place in private or in front of others.
“According to a US survey, if you include witnesses, bullying affects almost half (49%) of American workers”.
How does a bully behave?
A bully will usually combine various types of behaviour. The following are some of the typical types of behaviour that occur when someone is bullying you:
Obvious bullying might consist of:
Bullying at work can sometimes be unconscious. The bully may be unaware of their actions or the full effects of their behaviour. On the other hand, a bully that is your manager may be aware of causing you offence, but may see their behaviour as strong management or positive hands-on supervisory approach. If you never put a bully on blast, a bully will continue to mentally and physically torture you. If you want any form of bullying to stop, then, take an action by speaking up.
If you feel bullied at work, don’t ignore the feeling that you’re being bullied. If you feel singled out unfairly or picked on, then, don’t fall into a trap of blaming or loathing yourself. Instead, form a plan using the information on the Infographic below as a guide to put the bully on blast and reclaim your life and workplace happiness.
Unlike school playground bullies, workplace bullies tend to be drawn to positions offering them what they perceive as legitimate administrative or organisational authority over others. Workplace bullies typically pick on employees they consider threatening to their own roles or careers. They often have deep-seated issues of their own related to control.
The cause of bullying has nothing to do with your performance at work or your personality. In most cases, it has more to do with the bully’s insecurities.
Bullying at work is not managing and should not be confused with anyone’s management style. Managing is managing; managing anyone by bullying them is not managing.
Anyone who bullies to manage other people admits their inadequacies indirectly. Incompetent people project their inadequacy onto others for various reasons – one of which is to divert attention away from them and what they see as their own weaknesses or inadequacies. So, never suffer for other people’s incompetence, put a bully on blast before you are too stressed to work.
In acutely bad places of work, bullying is the way that managers who are inadequate and incompetent manage their employees. They do this so that they can keep their jobs and obtain an undeserved promotion. Just as well, employees bullying other employees use bullying to cover up their shortfalls in skills and competencies.
“A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning.” ~Kenyan proverb
In bad places of work, staff bully their managers too. The power which a bully uses sometimes is not restricted to that which comes with a particular position. Power does exist in various forms, including the potential to destroy a manager’s reputation with unfair or non-existing accusations or via spreading a malicious rumour behind the manager.
Staff turnover, stress related problems and sickness absences are usually high in these bad organisations. Whereas, morale, productivity and profitability are usually low.
Don’t play a bully’s game
An African proverb says, “If a donkey kicks you and you kick back, you are both donkeys!”
It’s easy to let someone push your buttons and for you to react badly back at them. Ensure that this doesn’t happen to you in the workplace. You really don’t want to stoop to a bully’s level. Refuse to be baited by a bully by all means. That is why it is better to put a bully on blast by reporting them to someone that is highly placed to take necessary actions. You need to be protected at work so that you can contribute to the organization.
However, never let a bully escalate their bullying before you put a bully on blast. Shouting counter insults or screaming back at the bully in the middle of an office might end up getting you in trouble or making the situation worse.
Set limits and confront a bully
To bolster you with encouragement and support, inform your trusted circle of colleagues and mentors of the situation, and then get ready to confront the bully face-to-face in a professional manner and in a safe environment, with few trusted colleagues nearby.
With the tips from the Infographic above, as you create and keep a detailed document in which you record dates, times, and locations related to each bullying behaviour, verbal attack or aggressive act, prepare to be clear with your communication and deal calmly with the bully.