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5 Effective Strategies to Cope with the Office Bully (That Won’t Get You Fired)

Workplace Bullying, Assertiveness, Human Resources...

Did you know that 75% of professionals, have reported one or more instances of workplace bullying?  This data is from a research study conducted by Dr. Judy Blando, from the University of Phoenix business school, and reveals that the problem occurs with great frequency and disruptive consequences.

What should career professionals do, if the encounter workplace bullying?  Here are five steps and recommendations from our global recruitment team.

  1. Ignore the Behavior

The same rules apply in all social relationships, when it comes to bullying behaviors.  The act of being aggressive is always about demonstrating power, and exercising it over someone else.  It’s a method to get attention, or perhaps earn favor or a sense of leadership, over a group of people.

Inevitably, bullies seek attention for their behavior, and they anticipate a reaction.  It’s difficult to suppress that reaction, when the words are hurtful, critical or meant to be humiliating.  But some of the greatest executive leaders in the world have stated, that they had to learn to ‘build muscle’ and the ability to ignore comments that were not constructive, to succeed.

Don’t feed the need for attention, or a spectacle, by trying to remain calm, logical and refrain from engaging in an argument that can damage your own personal and professional reputation.

  1. Document the Problems and Conflict

Bullying in the workplace can be systemic, and can be brief, or endured for years, depending on the situation.   No one wants to be the co-worker who asks a manager or human resource professional for intervention, as that can often escalate the situation.  If you do choose to involve management in the future, it is better to document the incidents in writing, somewhere private, where you can draw on tangible, rather than emotional evidence of the workplace conflict.

  1. Speak Confidentially to a Human Resource Professional

Before addressing your manager or immediate supervisor about the problem, first look to your organization’s human resource professional.  Not only can you express your concern and frustration in a ‘safe place’, but you can also ask for advice, tools and guidance, to help diffuse and manage the situation.

Take your documentation to your HRM, for frank discussion about the problem.  Try to keep your focus less personal, and more professional.  How is the behavior impacting your job?  Is the discord a negative aspect of the workplace, that creates disruptions for other co-workers as well?  Be prepared to ask for advice, but also offer insights into the source of the problem, triggers and other issues, that can help the human resource team formulate a plan, to resolve the conflict.

  1. Communicate Directly with the Co-worker

One of the most effective strategies in many types of workplace circumstances, is to directly confront the co-worker in peaceful and calm way.  In some cases, bullying behavior may be a misplaced sense of humor, without realizing how it is perceived to other coworkers.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, and explain how you feel, and which instances caused upset.  You may be able to resolve the situation with a frank and honest discussion, without escalating the matter to managers.

  1. Take Action

If all other steps of resolving the situation professionally have failed, it is important to your career and the reputation you have earned in the workplace, to confront the issue and find a solution.   The average individual spends between 35-45 hours per week within the workplace, and that is a substantial amount of time to endure emotional discomfort, and disruptions to your productivity and performance within the workplace.

Saying something, no matter how uncomfortable you are about consequences, can be detrimental to your future within the organization, and your career.  If you are committed to staying with your employer, take the right steps to resolve the situation as professionally as possible.