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How to safely deal with workplace bullies

Data from the Workplace Bullying Institute

From time to time I post guest blogs. Given the importance of workplace bullying, I have decided to post the following piece.

Bullies aren’t just in the schoolyard anymore. Every day, employees across the nation are bullied and abused at work. According to the latest data available from the Workplace Bullying Institute, bullying impacts 54 million American workers every year. Some workers may find figuring out how to deal with a bully is overwhelming, but with the right techniques and knowledge they can safely shut down any uncomfortable situations they may find themselves in. Below are tips from the personal safety experts at Krav Maga Worldwide that can help with the process.

  • Is it a joke or something more? Co-workers tend to joke around with each other to help the day go by faster and keep the mood light in the office. It is easy for these types of situations to roll over into a bullying situation, but before you put a title on what is happening, make sure to take a look at yourself and your own actions. If a co-worker is bullying you about one specific thing, whether it be your clothing or your accent, make sure that you have not said anything negative about yourself in a joking manner in their presence. Co-workers may think it is okay to “joke” around with you about something you might have said about yourself. If this is the case, pull the person aside and explain to them that you no longer find their comments funny. They most likely had no ill-intentions and thought that you were in on the fun.
  • Turn the tables and stand your ground. Most bullies are looking to get a reaction out of their victim. Try to keep your composure and your game face on when you have to be in the same room with the person. Or if they have a snarky comment to make such as how you never do anything right, try to turn the tables on them and ask what they would have done differently. The bully most likely won’t have anything constructive to say and will back off if you keep asking them questions. Bullying
  • Write it down. It will last longer. If what you are experiencing is constant bullying without provocation on your part, make sure to document every insult or uncomfortable situation the bully puts you in. When possible, also make note of who was around when the comments or the situation occurred. This will help you provide a detailed complaint when you go to HR with your concerns and the witnesses can help corroborate your story.
  • Tell someone. Bullying is never okay, and it is important to address the situation with your higher-ups or someone from the human resources department. Along with showing them your detailed accounts of the bullying situations, also suggest to them how you would like to see them handle the bully. Having the bully talked to verbally, sending them a written warning, or requesting that your desk/office be moved are all ways they can safely deal with the situation.
  • Pack your bags and hit the road. If you have spoken with your higher-ups or HR department and they didn’t take action or they are the ones doing the bullying, pack your things up in a cardboard box and hit the road. Working full time involves at least 8-hour days and 40-hour weeks. Who wants to spend that much time being harassed and feeling uncomfortable? Consider looking for other job opportunities or switching to another department at your current company.
  • Learn to protect yourself. Having a regular routine of training in self-defense, like at Krav Maga Worldwide certified training centers, will give you the knowledge and skills to fight back if you are attacked. If you feel that the level of bullying in the workplace is getting to a level where your physical well-being is being threatened, and your employer is not taking appropriate action, you will have the ability to protect yourself in the worst possible situation. Krav Maga Worldwide self-defense is not about starting fights, it's about being able to "walk in peace", and that applies to the workplace as well. 

For more information check out see the Facebook page (Krav Maga Worldwide), follow on Instagram @krav_maga_worldwide or call 800.572.8624.

Posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on November 21, 2019. Dr. Mintz recently published a book, Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, that explains how doing the right thing and being a good person can enhance well-being. The book is available on Amazon. Visit his website, sign up for his newsletter, follow him on Facebook and “Like” his page.