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Timeout for the Workplace Bully: Part II

Timeout for the Workplace Bully: Part II

We published an article on workplace bullying a short time ago. We focused on what steps leader can take to correct the issue.  Someone recently shared with me that they are subject to workplace bullying. However, this individual is not in a traditional leadership position. Part II is dedicated to those who may not be in a leadership role, but are experiencing workplace bullying.

As we talked about in Part I of this article, there are bullying behaviors types. A bully is someone who asserts persistent unwelcome behavior. The type of behavior includes one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Unwarranted or invalid criticism,
  • Singling out people,
  • Shouting,
  • Humiliating people publicly or privately,
  • Excessive monitoring of individual(s)

We are going to add another characteristic to the list, the inappropriate use of humor. Leigh Anne Jasheway, M.P.H., The Accidental Comic, reminds us, “Bullies often attempt to pass off their behavior as “humor.” When you regularly hear an employee ask, “Jeez, can’t you take a joke?” you likely have a bully in action. This is not to say that humor is always or even frequently a weapon — used positively, it is one of the most effective tools for bringing employees together and improving morale. Bullies, however, use their sense of humor negatively, to single people out and harass them.”

Those who are not in a leadership position experiencing workplace bullying may feel powerless. But they are not powerless.

Here are tips for those who are bullied in the workplace:

Develop a mentor: Find a mentor that you can trust and can talk to. You are most likely not alone in being on the receiving end of bullying behavior. Talking with someone else will help you become empowered.

Confront the bully: If you are not in physical danger, professionally confront the bully. Remember the playground? When bullies are stood up to, they will generally understand your boundaries and back off. Here are phrases to consider. Calmly say, “This angry (aggressive) behavior is making me feel uncomfortable,” “Please stop,” or “Isn’t there a more constructive way we can communicate with each other?”

Back up your work: A bully may engage in complaining about your performance behind your back. Continue to do your job well and back up your work. By doing so, trust that leadership will see who really is delivering results.

Get help: Do not be afraid to get help. If the bullying is just becoming too intolerable get help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but instead a sign of someone who is strong enough to put a stop to it.

Make a plan: Have you ever met a leader who has a “Pollyanna” tendency and basically deny anything bad is happening as they place those rose colored glasses upon their face? Thisis one of many ways some company cultures support bullying behaviors. Leaders who simply look the other way are allowing the bullying to continue. If this is the case, then making an exit plan is a good idea. A culture such as this is not worth the long term stress and risking health.  Determine your next career step. Update that resume. Focus on your next step out of there.  Knowing you have a plan will help keep your sanity in check.

This economy has had a significant impact on businesses. They have had to rethink workforce strategies in order to remain viable. By taking appropriate steps making the issue known, just might be the thing leadership needs to hear to ensure a productive workforce and overall viability. More importantly having a plan and taking appropriate actions will help keep your sanity intact.  

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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite (www.hrcsuite.com). HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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