Can you count all the places and situations in your life you’ve encountered a bully? School. Neighborhood. Family. Even the workplace. Bullies have a way of dragging you down and making life miserable for you because they’re really hard to deal with.
Why do people bully? I think there are lots of reasons, from my observations:
Jealousy: You have something they want. A job, a character trait, a type of relationship. You have something they don’t and they strike out at you because of it.
Insecurity: People tend to “throw” their power around when they’re insecure about themselves or their positions. Because they don’t feel in control of their lives, they want to act like they can control yours.
Narcissism: The narcissist thinks they can do whatever they want without consequence and they believe they’re never at fault (even when they truly are), so they will blame you for anything they can. If you don’t respond or react they way they want you to, they’ll try to bully you into complying.
There may be a myriad of other reasons people bully. I’m not an expert in psychology. I’m an expert in my personal observation and experience.
Being bullied, coerced, manipulated, and lied to or about is terribly stressful. Work life is usually stressful enough. You’re trying to balance family, health, household, and the duties of your job. You don’t need someone intentionally trying to make things miserable for you.
Then what do you do about it?
- If you identify that you’re truly being bullied, start documenting every incident of the bullying. Include what’s said, time, place, date, and by whom. Create a diary of sorts. If you need to approach HR or your boss about this, having documentation that they can see with their own eyes and see an established pattern, should add credence to your situation.
- If you feel safe doing so, talk to the person who’s mistreating you. Approach it privately and delicately, i.e. “Tom, I feel as if you dislike me or have a problem with me. Is there something we could discuss and try to work this out?” We can hope they will soften and you truly will be able to find a peaceful resolution.
- If they deny the behavior or just refuse to talk about it, still with a calm demeanor, you could let them know you don’t appreciate the way they talk to/talk about/treat you and that it needs to stop.
- If it doesn’t stop, you may have to really consider going to your superior. That is so scary, isn’t it? You worry about a lot of things: will your boss take you seriously? Will it make things worse with the bully? Will it make you some sort of target? I can’t say. You have to judge your own position, but there should be someone in every workplace who employees can go to in confidence when such a situation arises and trust them to help with conflict resolution. When you meet, bring your notebook along.
The bottom line is, nobody should be bullied. If there is a zero tolerance for bullying in schools, why not in the workplace as well? It’s abuse. It costs the company money if you’re ill from stress as a result of the bullying. It’s bad for morale. It’s just unacceptable. You get the idea. Everyone should be able to feel safe in their space whether it’s school, home or work.
I’m a fan of therapy when needed. Maybe that’s something you also feel comfortable with. Finding a good therapist who you develop a great rapport with can be incredibly helpful. They too can offer some great advice about workplace boundaries and how to put them into place.
You have options. Hang in there.
Be encouraged. You deserve peace,
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you care about is being abused, please seek out the resources in your local area that are safest for you and get help. I’m here as a listening ear. No one should suffer in an abusive relationship and everyone deserves to feel safe.