Bullying is not confined only to school or college campus, but extends till office. In reality there is more bullying in office than in the educational institutions.
American bullying experts Gary and Ruth Namie ?define bullying as a 'Repeated, health-harming mistreatment of a person by one or more workers that takes the form of verbal abuse; conduct or behaviors that are threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; sabotage that prevents work from getting done; or some combination of the three.'
The ultimate aim of a bully is to assault the dignity, trustworthiness, competence and self-worth of a person to derive personal gains or sadistic satisfaction.
So what can be done to stop the bullies?
The first step in countering the bullies is to realise that it is happening to you. You have to know that you are not the only victim, as statistics reveal that nearly half of the workforce has been affected by bullying, either as a target or a witness.
If you are being bullied, it’s not your fault, and it has nothing to do with your actions or who you are as a person. Take control of your emotions and detach yourself from the bully’s verbal abuse. You did not incur this on yourself, nor do you deserve it.
You have to build a shield from bullies and this can be done by being in charge of your feelings and watching out for any toxic thinking patterns.
Ignoring or avoiding the bully may seem the safest way, but it’s actually more harmful; the victim suffers in silence and the problem doesn’t get resolved.
In the meantime you cannot afford to give in to the demands of the bullies. Once you give into one demand, they will push for more. Showing aggression is once again not helpful as it can land you into more trouble than the bully himself?—?or worse, show to the latter that they have power over you.
Before moving forward, identify stress-related health complications that may have arisen owing to this and take steps to reverse them by consulting health physicians. Next, conduct a thorough research on the company’s policies, laws in your area and your rights as an employee. Prepare a file that documents all bullying incidents you have been exposed to, substantiated with facts, and keep it handy for future reference.
If the bullying is done physically, try to bring a point of separation between you and the bully or ask them to step back politely.
If it is your personal space that is threatened, tell them to stop, politely yet firmly.
Bullies feed on weakness, show them that you are strong and confront, your body language also plays a crucial role in this.
Focus on people who trust you and talk about your positively, these people may also turn into a reliable set of supporters who can back your confrontation against the bullies when the need be.
Even after setting these boundaries, if the bullying continues, then prepare for the next course of action.
Your first step should be to file an internal complaint and compel employer responsibility for putting you in harm’s way. Be prepared with your file of documented facts to defend your case.
Gary and Ruth recommend another approach, which suggests building a business case showing the financial impact of the bullying and presenting it to the executive team. ‘Speak their language,’ and you might be surprised at the results that you get.
This approach is fact-based and stands a lesser chance of being discounted or discredited. If your Manager sides with the bully owing to personal friendship or rationalizes the mistreatment, you may have to consider involving HR or other higher ups. And, if your Management or HR department doesn’t help either, you can pursue other legal actions, such as criminal or civil lawsuits.
However these are costly and think before you move in that direction.
If you are successful, then don’t just leave it there. Endeavour to bring reforms in the work culture. Most people choose to stay silent when witnessing someone else is being bullied. Don’t be one of them. Moreover, support creation, implementation and enforcement of anti-bullying policies.