b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: How to Beat the Office Bully

12/29/2005

 

How to Beat the Office Bully

There's gotta be a better way.

In Dr. Raj Persaud's book Staying Sane, several suggestions are given to help meet/beat the office bully on solid ground. As I've said regarding others' suggestions, these are logically good ideas... but what people need to remember is that if you're dealing with a bully, you're not dealing with a logical person in a logical situation.

Let's take a look at some of these suggestions:

1. Get witnesses: never be in a place where the bully and yourself are alone together. Always speak to the bully in the presence of others.

This sounds like a good idea, but you might be asking for more trouble if you refuse to meet with the bully (especially if they're your boss) for meetings or any other routine things that you would normally meet with them over. If the bully is a smart person, they'll find a way around this. What happened to me: When I suggested Inhuman Resources get involved in all future meetings with my Idiot Boss, I got written up for insubordination. They sided with my boss and stated that I was being unreasonable -- regarless of what my complaints of her were.

2. Warn the person who is causing the problem to stop. Explain - in front of witnesses - that you will take it further. Alternatively, you can get someone to do this on your behalf or write them a letter. Be firm and confident, but not aggressive or confrontational. Explain clearly the behaviour you consider bullying and let them know exactly how they should behave.

This might work -- or at least convey the message that you won't take any nonsense. But the key is to have witnesses. If you do this one-on-one, the bully may take it as a threat and escalate the situation. It happened to me.

3. If it fails to stop then you may decide to make a formal complaint. All companies should have a grievance procedure which you should follow to the letter. Again, advice from a union rep or sympathetic manager can be crucial

This is always an option. Hopefully, if you take this route people will take you seriously and listen to your side of the story. However, they probably have to listen to the other side as well. If your company agrees with you then you have more in your favor. If not, then be prepared to leave the company (if you haven't already started looking for another job) or be fired (for insubordination most likely).

4. Adapt your response to the specific situation of the person bullying you - if it is a boss consider going further up the tree to their superiors.

This is another good suggestion. I've heard success stories from individuals who have taken this path. If it is an option for you, then take it above your boss' head. There's a chance that they aren't aware of what's happening. On the other hand: They may not only know what's going on, they may also be the perpetrators behind the bully's deeds. In my situation, when I had "The Standoff" meeting between my bat-$%#@-crazy-manager and Inhuman Resources, her manager sat right beside her -- for her support. Not only would he not speak to me, he refused to even make eye contact.

So, you have options for certain. They just might not all be good options. At the end of the day you need to decide what you're comfortable with and move forward with that. But try to remember that saying or doing something for yourself is always better than not. If nothing else, it will help you feel better (for standing up for yourself), and it will send a message (possibly) to others in your organization that something's going on. Good luck.

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