Workplace bullying is an endemic problem in the USA, with a 2014 survey of 1,000 people indicating that over a quarter of employees have been victims at some point, and almost three quarters have witnessed or were aware of bullying incidents.
For victims of workplace bullying in San Diego, knowing how to stop the bully and resolve the issue without making things worse for yourself can be a real challenge. However, no employee should have to live with bullying in the workplace, so if you are being targeted by a bully, this article will share five strategies on how to handle a workplace bully.
What Is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying is the repeated, harmful mistreatment of another party by one or more aggressors, which may be intimidatory, threatening or belittling, or affect your ability to perform your job.
It may include (but is not limited to) derogatory comments about yourself or your work, attempts to obstruct your ability to work effectively or sabotage your work, spreading rumors or deleterious gossip about you, or encouraging other parties to join in with any of these behaviors.
Workplace bullying is usually ongoing rather than isolated to one incident, and may worsen and escalate over time as the bully becomes more confident.
The Difference Between Bullying And Harassment
Both workplace bullying and workplace harassment are serious issues, but it is important to be able to tell the difference between them, because the way they are viewed in law and how companies are expected to protect against them are rather different.
Harassment in the workplace is hostile, abusive or intimidating behavior that is targeted at an individual because of a certain characteristic they possess or are perceived to possess, such as the color of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability status. Harassment pertains to legally protected categories – meaning that it is mandated in law that no person may be penalized or mistreated as a result of them.
Bullying, on the other hand, may involve the same or very similar behaviors and results, but is not specific to a certain legally protected category.
Five Strategies For Handling A Workplace Bully
If a workplace bully is making your life a misery, you don’t simply have to put up with it and hope that it goes away – or look for another job. Here are five of the most effective strategies for handling a workplace bully.
1. Be Direct With The Bully
If someone is bullying you in the workplace, it might seem obvious to you that they are doing this deliberately – but a surprisingly large number of bullies don’t recognize their own behavior for what it is. Speaking out to your bully themselves can be really hard – and if you don’t feel capable of doing this, don’t beat yourself up about it.
But if you can or are willing to, try speaking directly to your bully about their behavior. “You’re bullying me” can be a powerful wake-up call for someone who may not have perceived their behavior for what it is – and giving specific examples of their actions and how this affects you may be enough to cause the bully to take a good look at themselves and rectify their behavior.
2. Tell Your Boss Or Supervisor
If you don’t feel that you can speak to your bully directly or have already tried and nothing has changed, the next step is to get your boss involved – or their boss if it your direct manager that is the problem! Whether you want to make things formal at this stage or not is up to you, but if workplace bullying is affecting you, the sooner you speak up and make someone in power aware of the problem, the better.
3. Contact Your Company’s HR Department
If you aren’t happy with your boss’s response or feel as if you cannot speak to them, contact the HR department of your company and ask them to intervene. You may also wish to make use of workplace wellness schemes, pastoral support services and any other resources your company may provide too.
4. Keep A Record Of Events
Bullying tends to be repetitive and will often escalate over time, so it is important to keep a record of every incident to refer back to later on, and to support any complaint or claim you might make in the future.
Record the times, dates, and places of all incidents, as well as what was said or done – and if any witnesses were present.
5. Ask A Trusted Colleague To Take Notes
Workplace bullying rarely happens in a vacuum – many bullies will think nothing of carrying out their behavior in front of others, or even inciting others to join in. Your bully may even be victimizing other people too, whether you know about it or not – so ask other people who witness bullying to speak up and keep their own records too.
What To Do If You’ve Experienced Workplace Bullying
If you have been the victim of workplace bullying and don’t know where to turn for advice and advocacy, or if you are unhappy with the way your company has handled a complaint you have made about bullying, contact Walker Law now for confidential support. Our team of employment law experts in San Diego are here to help you today!