Bullying in the workplace is on the rise. In fact, it is all around us; in the home, with children, work colleagues and even strangers.
Some current stats show that in the UK:
- More than a third, 36 percent, have been driven to tears by cruel jibes
- 10 per cent have been physically attacked
- 71 percent of the British workforce has been bullied
(Stats taken from Daily Mail Article – 7 out of 10 UK workers say they are bullied by bosses)
So let’s first look at what a bully is made of. Bullies often appear self-assured to mask their own insecurities. Bullying provides them with a way to exert control, power and domination, satisfying one of the six human needs, to be significant (important). Bullies hide their lack of competence and integrity behind a smokescreen, externalising blame at whoever ‘fits the bill’. That could be someone who is good at their job, someone who is popular, someone with integrity, someone who is different (race, religion, culture) or passive.
The number one fear of the bully is being exposed and called to account for their behaviour so they become very good at deception; charming one moment (public façade) and hurtful the next (in private).
Some people allow themselves to be bullied as it is a behaviour they are used to (experienced in childhood, in relationships, etc), for others it is the acceptance of poor behaviour as being normal especially if others are tolerating it. Sometimes the embarrassment of telling someone else or fear of what telling someone else will bring (FEAR = False Expectations Appearing Real) leaves bullying unchallenged. Guilt can also play a part, especially in the ‘child bullying parent’ scenario where a child feels the parent has failed them in some way (and there may be a hint of truth in that) so the parent accepts the guilt and the abuse they receive.
If you are being bullied or you know someone who is then now is the time to take action! Sitting back and letting them get on with it is not the way. You need to:
Recipients must acknowledge and recognise bullying behaviour. Too often it is played down and accepted especially if there are a number of other people experiencing it. Bullying is fault finding, criticism (not constructive), humiliating, being disrespectful, belittling, mimicking and undermining someone else in a bid to hide personal insecurities. They hide their own pain by inflicting pain on others.
Take action; remove the bully’s ability to control! Accepting it breeds more of the same. If it is not important to you why would the bully stop? There is nothing brave in doing nothing! You have no reason to be embarrassed or feel guilty.
Assertively approach the bully; ‘the way you act towards me (give an example – rudeness, aggression, put downs) is unacceptable. I want it (the behaviour) to stop/I want to be listened to/I want constructive feedback.’ State clearly that the matter is closed if they try to belittle you in any way. The sooner this is done the better.
If it continues or if you don’t feel comfortable approaching them start to log conversations, print off memos, emails, keep texts and phone messages, especially in a work environment.
Focus on changing your behaviour, not the bullies. Being assertive is better than hoping the bully will suddenly be ‘understanding and responsive’. Do not ignore it and know what you want (respect, bad behaviour to stop).
In the workplace know your companies stance on bullying so that you can be aware of the procedures you need to take when reporting such matters.
Stop accepting the poor behaviour as the norm – it is not!
Know what you want or expect from your relationships whether that be in the workplace or with a total stranger. Focus on what we do want not what we don’t want!
“Any change, any loss, does not make us victims. Others can shake you, surprise you, disappoint you, but they can’t prevent you from acting, from taking the situation you’re presented with and moving on. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your situation, you can always do something. You always have a choice and the choice can be power.”
You need to demonstrate behaviour that clearly shows you are not going to allow someone bad behaviour to rule you or bring you down.
“All it needs for evil to prosper is for people of goodwill to do nothing.”