I can't tell you how many people these days tell me about workplace bullies and boundary issues. The bullying problems that children have in grade school and that follow them all through high school and into college don't stop once they get into the workplace. Sadly, some people continue to harass and bully others even when they become adults. So we have to deal with this for much of our life. And it's downright painful.
Boundaries are essential borders each of us sets around what behavior we'll accept from others and what behavior we won't endure. They are crucial when it comes to bullies. Sometimes bullies don't even see the hurt they cause. Perhaps they are so tuned in only to themselves or they are emotionally unaware. It's always worthwhile to try confront a bully who has disrespected or mistreated you in the workplace. You need to do so calmly, however; otherwise, the message will be lost as a bully likely will escalate the behavior if she/he feels threatened. Calmly state your desire: "Please do not shout at me when you ask me for something you need," for example. You may want to add the consequence if the behavior continues: "When you shout at me in the future, I will need to leave the room. I will be unable to fulfill your request. However, if you can speak to me respectfully, I will continue our interaction."
Don't give up if the behavior persists. Continue to calmly state your desire. Of course, if the behavior continues for weeks and months, you will want to consider stronger actions, such as keeping a written record of the behavior and reporting to a supervisor.
There's no doubt that it's difficult to keep a balance between ignoring bullies and confronting them by setting boundaries. And it's especially tricky in a workplace where you fear reprisal either from the bully or from management. As we know all too well, sometimes the bullies appear to win the day. However, your well-being and emotional health matter. So you need to do whatever you can to stay in balance. If you would like to discuss this in a complimentary coaching strategy session, I invite you to contact me.
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