How to Deal with Bullying by Diane Peters
Bullying is devastating. According to Gary Namie, about 80% of victims leave their job. Many start internalizing the abuse and blaming themselves and the quality of their work tends to go down. The stress may lead to conflicts at home, substance abuse, depression or illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
Some bullies are fired or sued, but the vast majority get away with it. “Why does it happen? It gets rewarded,” says Namie. Because bullies are often very cunning, they end up taking credit for others’ work, even looking like heroes for exposing poor work by others (often their targets).
What managers can do about bullying
- Stay tuned into what’s going on with your team and be aware of the signs of bullying (see below).
- When approached by someone with an allegation, avoid the urge to minimize and ignore the situation. “Stop saying, ‘Work it out between yourselves.’ Don’t make the victim solve it. If she hasn’t already, she can’t,” says Namie.
- Acknowledge the problem and listen to both sides of the story. “Don’t be too quick to solve it,” warns Cade. If you have a bully, chances are this person is good at covering his tracks.
- Learn all you can. “Since bullies are complex, educate yourself or seek outside help,” says Cade. “Education is empowerment.”
- Consult your company’s workplace behaviour policy and see if it can help you instigate a termination. Namie says this is the best solution: “They’re not going to stop. Get rid of them.” Don’t just give a bully a warning: that can lead to retaliation. If you don’t have an anti-bullying policy, get to work on one.
- Work with HR to screen for sociopathic personalities at hiring time to avoid bringing in new bullies.
What you can do if you are being bullied
- Avoid confronting the bully. “It’s the worst thing you can do. Bullies tend to erupt in anger when you do that,” says Power. They will often retaliate and further torment you.
- Collect clear information, says Cade. Keep emails, record conversations and make notes on what precisely was said, when and where. Include even small things such as not being invited for lunch or receiving a document in an unreadable format.
- Consult your workplace’s behaviour policy and come with clear supporting facts when you report the problem to HR or a superior. “When you present your case, make sure you are not emotional — save your emotions for a safe place, such as a therapy session,” says Cade.
- Find a champion. Cade recommends that targets keep pursuing allegations as long as someone high up in the company listens and helps open doors.
- If the bullying is related to discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or other grounds, you can file a complaint through the human rights commission in your province.
- File a civil suit through the courts (this advice relates to the US, it may not be possible in other countries). There are success stories: in 2012 an assistant manager at Walmart in Windsor, Ont., was awarded $1.4 million after being bullied by her boss. BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec now have labour laws recognizing workplace bullying.
- Try improving your coping skills. Cade coaches targets to disengage from the abuse and avoid bending over backward to please a bully. “The thing that will allow them to cope better is to accept the reality that the bully won’t change.” Cade suggests targets educate themselves about bullying tactics so they can analyze what’s happening to them. This approach has helped people stay in their jobs and has led to bullies losing interest.
Signs of a bully on your team
Emotional changes in staff: “Watch for a competent person who is suddenly bumbling and self-doubting,” says Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in the US. A target who’s exhausted from stress and suffering from low self-esteem will start making mistakes.
Absenteeism: An empty desk, particularly on Mondays, could turn into a stress leave over time.
Social shifts: If the bully is affecting the workplace overall, there may be rampant rumours, meetings where no one dissents and changes in friendships.
A sudden explosion: When it all hits the fan in a big office argument, it’s a sign that bullying has been festering for some time; teasing out who’s the bully and who’s a retaliating target could be tricky.
- See more at: http://read.gaaaccounting.com/news/how-to-deal-with-bullying-at-work/
It is often easier, career and health wise, to simply leave the workplace where you are being bullied. Apply for new jobs and when you get one then leave the one where you are being bullied. You will probably love your new job and you will remain healthy.
Bullying is often the result of the bully worrying that he/she will be exposed by someone. That someone is targeted to keep them quiet. The target is either speaking up in some way about the bully's inadequacies or corrupt behaviour, or the bully believes that the target may do so in the future. Usually speaking up is whistleblowing. So bullying and whistleblowing are often related. The bully targets the whistleblower to keep the whistleblower quiet or to discredit the whistleblower. Often the whistleblower does not realise that he/she is a whistleblower. The whistleblower might think that they are just a normal person doing their job. Just reporting incidents as their work-practice requires. Or engaging in quality control or occupational safety measures. If a manager is incompetent or corrupt he/she will view this normal work activity as a threat and target the worker to ensure that the worker is silenced or discredited.
It is not always easy to get a new job. But if it is at all possible, it is probably better than staying in a job where you are bullied. Leave and let the bully be SEP (Someone Else's Problem).
Leaving is probably the best option (Walter was wise to leave.)
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