It’s nice to think we’ve left the bullies behind in high school, but sadly there are adults who bully others in the workplace all the time. Bullying takes many forms, including:
• Criticizing you (either to your face or behind your back)
• Neglecting to include you in significant conversations
• Taking credit for your work or blaming you for problems
• Acting nicely one day, cold or confrontational the next day
Whatever type of bullying is involved, the situation can quickly escalate and become intolerable. Before that happens, keep these “anti-bullying” tips in mind:
√ Assess the situation. First, evaluate the situation objectively. Does the person treat everyone badly or single you out for some reason? Someone with a bad attitude isn’t necessarily a bully, rather a person you should avoid if possible. Someone who consistently behaves in a hostile, abusive or threatening manner is a different story and you’ll need to take action.
√ Stand your ground. Most bullies will back down when someone stands up to them. “The trick is to remain polite but professional while still setting your limits firmly,” advises Chrissy Scivicque, founder of EatYourCareer.com. “Practice your response so you’re prepared the next time something happens and you can respond swiftly without getting emotional. Keep it simple and straightforward, for example: ‘I don’t think your tone is appropriate.’”
√ Document the situation. It’s always a good idea to keep a detailed log of your interactions with a bully. Note what he says and does (and your own actions, too). Document specific examples, including where and when the bullying behavior occurred. Also note if others were present. You may never have to make use of your records, but they can be valuable if and when others get involved.
√ Seek help from Human Resources. If the aggressive behavior doesn’t stop, it’s time to contact HR and describe how this individual’s negative actions are affecting your work. Stay cool and calm when describing the situation and share all relevant documentation. An HR representative will help find a solution that’s best for you and the company.
Remember, the workplace is a professional environment, not a social gathering. “You don’t have to be friends with everyone,” Scivicque notes. “There are bound to be some people you just don’t get along with, and that’s OK.”