Monday

How to Deal with Workplace Bullies

Workplace bullying is more common than you might think – according to a survey from job-search site CareerBuilder, some form of bullying has been experienced by 28% of U.S. workers. (Link: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bullying-a-common-problem-at-work/] This bullying can range from verbal abuse to other actions that are harder for the victim to understand – such as purposely not being invited to a meeting or project, being gossiped about, or having different sets of standards and policies applied.

Now that more study is being done on the causes of workplace bullying, it’s also becoming easier to find resources to deal with workplace bullies. According to many experts, the most obvious tactic – confronting the bully face-to-face – is also the tactic that you most want to avoid, especially with your career and reputation on the line.

Instead, the Workplace Bullying Institute recommends a three-step target action plan for dealing with workplace bullies. [Link: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/solutions/wbi-action-plan/]

The first step is coming to grips with the fact that you are being victimized. This means ignoring all of the colorful terms usually used to gloss over workplace bullying – such as the term “difficult boss” – and recognize bullying for what it is.

Once you have accepted that you might be a victim of workplace bullying, the second step is to begin taking steps to ensure your physical and mental health. This includes consulting a therapist or other health expert who can help you with the strong emotions you must be feeling.

It also means doing a check of your physical health, since instances of workplace abuse often lead to physical problems, such as hypertension and chronic headaches. These physical ailments are brought on by the stress of dealing with a bully.

The third step involves a more active phase in dealing with the workplace bully. If you have decided that you wish to remain at your workplace and not find a job elsewhere, then you must begin building a case against the workplace bully that involves specific documentation of what happened and when. It also means researching specific federal and state statutes that might cover workplace bullying under laws dealing with discrimination.

Finally, suggests the Workplace Bullying Institute, you need to build the business case against the workplace bully. Bullies are often effective in wooing others over to their campaign of bullying – usually by forms of subtle intimidation – so you will need to appeal to strict, bottom-line analysis of the problem.

In short, you will need to prove that the workplace bully is simply “bad for business” – he or she is someone who negatively impacts the running of the business or, in extreme cases, is responsible for the loss of clients and revenue.

The risk in all this, however, is that your employer may find grounds to fire you rather than deal with cases of workplace bullying. This is the same problem faced by victims of other bullying – including domestic abuse, in which the veiled threat is that a relationship will end if the bully (the domestic abuser) is exposed.

However, with this three-step approach to dealing with workplace bullies [Link: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/solutions/wbi-action-plan/], you can optimize your chances of dealing successfully with a bully and restoring your work life back to normal.

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