In many minds, bullies are generally reserved for the schoolyard, often taking the role of the bigger kid who has a physical advantage over other children, using it to torment them. The reality is the bullying problem lingers well beyond childhood and often rears its ugly head in the workplace, where schoolyard dynamics tend to reappear. As children, our options for dealing with bullies are limited by both our age and our inability to comprehend the situation, among other factors. As an adult coping with bullying, the situation becomes, almost nonsensically, more ambiguous. What are we to do when we are the victims of bullying in the workplace? Where is the line drawn? Here are some tips to carefully consider if you find you have become the victim of a workplace bully.
Set Limits On What You Will Tolerate
The first step in combating the bully begins within. It’s up to you to set your boundaries. If you fail to do this, you create a situation cloaked in ambiguity. If a clear line isn’t drawn, you’ll never know when it’s crossed, which will cause you grief down the road. By setting a clear boundary and making what it is clear to the aggressor, you are removing any possible vagueness that could seep into your interactions. You need to ask questions like, “how far is too far?”, and “when exactly does this become bullying?”
Perimeters need to be identified first to fix any problem; the playing field needs to be clearly marked, and the lines noted. This goes for all the players. If the rules are never clarified, how will anyone know whether the rules are being broken or not? If your boundaries are made clear to all of your colleagues, and then those boundaries are crossed, the aggressor is clearly in the wrong and won’t have the luxury of hiding behind a facade of ambiguity or ignorance.
Keep reading to learn about another way to deal with a workplace bully.