By definition, "workplace bullying" is the repeated, health-harming mistreatment of an employee in the form of a verbal abuse or behaviors that are threatening, intimidating, or humiliating.
Avoid career-derailing sabotage with help from mental game coach JENNIFER Touma, today's top expert on mental strength in the workplace.
JENNIFER says bullies practice psychological violence by unleashing verbal aggression through yelling, swearing, or making negative comments, withholding vital information, stealing credit for other's work, spreading malicious rumors, excluding victims socially and/or humiliating victims in front of others.
Our mental games expert identifies two kinds of bullies 1) unsuccessful ones who don't last long at companies, and 2) successful ones who are competent but create problems. Some bullies operate under the radar undetected because they project such traits as being intelligent, hardworking, self-confident, competitive and independent. Such traits may fill the job description, but they are devoid of empathy and compassion.
A bully acts with malice, carefully chooses YOU and creates roadblocks to derail your success. Their misuse of power and authority is relentless. Bullies are self-centered, emotionally restless, subjective and focused totally on their own needs. On the other hand, a tough boss simply treats all employees fairly, sets high expectations and holds employees accountable.
If the employee has a problem, a tough boss works with him or her to overcome barriers and use constructive dialogue. Bullied employees quickly become mentally and emotionally exhausted. This leads to physical illness, high absenteeism, low self-confidence, and feelings of depression, social isolation, increased anxiety, sleepless nights and high turnover.
To lessen the impact of a bullying boss, JENNIFER recommends the following seven ways to handle that workplace bully:
Tip 1 - Verbal self-defense
Don’t let the bully’s abusive words rattle you. Respond calmly and unemotionally. Make eye contact and declare with a firm voice, “Your tone is unacceptable and I won’t tolerate it.” Restrict your statement to the present situation. Confront the bully in private because bullies never back down in public or apologize.
Tip 2 - Project self-confidence
Gain self-confidence by facing adversity and meeting challenges. Project this self-confidence through strong body language, quality work, a measured tone of voice and a firm handshake when dealing with others.
Tip 3 - Document everything
Keep a detailed journal of your interactions, what happened and when, what was said and any witness statements. You'll need this information to report the bully to human resources or legal authorities. Keep your journal and notes at home and do not create these or store them on the company computer.
Tip 4 - Seek help
If you do nothing, be mentally prepared for more of the same, forcing you to quit your job or be asked to leave as your work quality slips. Any employee has the right to take swift action against bullying. Realize co-workers may distance themselves to protect their jobs. But don't handle your bullying situation alone. Seek the assistance of a mentor, coach or legal advocate who specializes in unfair workplace behavior. Going to human resources is a good start. Before YOU approach HR a) Support your complaint with documented evidence b) Get legal advice to learn your rights and options c) Familiarize yourself with your company’s employee welfare policy on bullying d) Ask your HR representative what you can expect from them and if your conversations are confidential e) Determine whether others who have approached HR have been labeled complainers or a liability.
Tip 5 - Prepare emotionally
Not many people like to confront the person they are reporting. Mental toughness will help you feel in control of your emotions and life, respond proactively to challenges and act with confidence, calmness and resolve. Being mentally tough will help you to withstand the stress and pressure of the process.
Tip 6 - Develop a strong, disciplined mind
Become more inner-directed and self-reliant. Pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling. Train your mind to be alert by staying in the present. When your mind is strong and disciplined, it enables you to face the bully rather than giving the bully permission to control you.
Tip 7 - Don't expect to change the bully
You have no control over a bully’s behavior or attitude. Your best option is to manage the situation and shield yourself emotionally, psychologically and legally. It's the company’s responsibility to protect the welfare of its employees’ from all types of workplace behavior and harm, including bullying.