Office bullying is ‘real’. And, unfortunately, it happens way more often than people actually realise. The bullying which is carried out by ‘office bullies’ can come in many forms. It can come in subtle acts or sometimes even in the most aggressive ways. Either way, bullying is NOT okay and can be very hard and challenging to deal with, especially in the workplace.
You might be dealing with office bullies when
You feel extremely uncomfortable around a specific individual or group of colleagues
You’re being excluded from important meetings
You’re having a hard time being productive due to your negative work environment.
- You feel like you’re constantly being criticised and yelled at
If you’re experiencing bullying at work, it is first important to understand that this has nothing to do with you or anything that you might have done (as there is no excuse for bullying!). Office bullying, however, often occurs when your success or progress at work triggers the bully’s own insecurities or internalised shame.
So once you know that, how you respond to office bullies is extremely important for your mental health, peace of mind and confidence at work.
What you need to know
1. You can’t escape the haters
Being good at your job will always attract ‘haters’. You’re talented and extremely hard-working; no doubt your success intimidates others. Let’s face it, not everyone is happy with your success at work. In fact, not many people are grounded enough to see others thrive, while they remain at the same level in their life and career.
That’s why office bullies choose their victims. They are not happy seeing others do better than them. So in order to make them feel better about their own insecurities or shame, they choose to cause havoc.
2. They are going to talk, a lot!
The gossiping, backbiting and lies. Unfortunately, you’ll have to accept that this is what they are going to do. Because the truth is you can’t control what other people choose to do. Luckily, what you do have control over is your own behaviour. What people choose to say about you, does not define you in any way. The sooner you realise that, the easier it becomes to effectively deal with office bullies.
What you need to do
3. You have to master your emotions
One of the most crucial things you would have to learn when dealing with office bullies is to master your emotions. You can’t afford to allow their actions to control your day, your work or how you feel. Office bullies mostly act based on their own agenda. Whether this is to sabotage your work or make you feel uncomfortable. They simply want to annoy you or push your buttons – Don’t allow their behaviour to control your emotions or actions.
4. Calmly gather your evidence
Office bullies are quite repetitive in their actions. When you learn how to remain calm, you start to recognise certain patterns which will always cause you to be three steps ahead of them. So for example, don’t confront the office bully just to ‘show them who they’re messing with’. There is a huge difference between ‘responding’ and ‘reacting’ to situations. And the bully is often looking for a ‘reaction’.
Don’t play their game, play a fair one by always keeping a record or logbook of everything that’s taking place. Note down the date, time, place and actions. Try to be as specific as possible, because one day you will need this as evidence.
5. Speak to your manager or HR department
Based on your logbook and the evidence you’ve gathered, speak to your manager or HR department. Make sure that the info you provide is based on facts. Especially since subtle bullying, sometimes, is hard to prove. Keeping a record only based on ‘your feelings’ is, therefore, not enough. It’s okay to state how the bully’s actions made you feel, however, always base it on actual events and facts. This will give your manager or HR department more grounds to stand on when confronting the office bullies.
Please note that if your privacy has been invaded or you’ve been faced with physical abuse in the workplace, don’t wait, report this immediately.