Dealing With Bullies: ‘Aah But…’
‘Every Time I Try To Say Something I freeze. I’m not Strong Enough to Confront Them’
Of course you will want to say something if a bully behaves outrageously but you may not be able to immediately – you may freeze (a natural adrenaline response), you may be afraid, you may fear that if you address it in the current context no-one else will support you and it may make your working life worse (this may be a valid fear), you may simply be having a bad day anyway and feel that you don’t have the strength.
Do not give up. Tell yourself that you will address it but at a time and in a manner that suits you.
Bullies will continue to bully if left unchecked so if you miss an opportunity today, you will be given another one soon.
‘I Just Have to Get Everything Off My Chest’
No you don’t.
Sorry but there is no point sobbing through a list of things someone has done to upset you if that person has done them deliberately. This only empowers them. If you determine the tone (polite, formal, calm) and choose to end the encounter to suit you, this empowers you and disempowers the bully.
Bullying is about power. Do not feed the bully with too much attention, too much emotion. They are simply not that important.
‘I Can’t Get the Bully out of My Mind’
I know it seems impossible but so far as you can please focus on you and your life, not the bully. Yes they need to be dealt with but if you think about them constantly they will control your life even when they’re not there. When you start worrying about them jot down what you’re worried about and tell yourself you’ll think about it later or talk about it with a friend but set yourself a time limit. Try to schedule time to think about it – that controls the situation, sets some boundaries, and enables you to focus on your life. Scheduling time ahead is not the same as putting it off forever, it’s just a way of taking back a little control, of dealing with it when you’re at your best (rested, fed, coffee in hand) rather than at your worst (exhausted, tearful, so weak and trembling that you can’t hold your coffee).
‘The Bully Is More Powerful Than I Am’
If you fight someone bigger / more powerful than yourself you can’t do so on their terms – they’re stronger. It’s also likely you will end up behaving in a way the workplace rules would frown on too.
Take the high road guys – be polite, formal and calm. If the worst happens and the bully continues, you have lost nothing and the bully will be forced to have some sneaky respect.
‘Being Around the Bully Makes Me Feel Ill’
Some people are simply toxic to be around.
If this person makes you feel physically sick with nerves, plan a coffee with a friend afterwards, a short walk, going to a film, grabbing a chocolate bar – whatever it takes. You will need something to distract you as far as possible, to decontaminate after what will have been a very draining situation, however brief.
‘I’m Afraid of How the Bully Will React’
The key is to stand up to them, their response is in many ways irrelevant.
Set realistic expectations. They are extremely unlikely to apologise and reform immediately. At best you can hope that they will behave better for fear of consequences.
The bully is only human. There’s only so much he or she can do. That’s not to say that they can’t make life feel miserable, poison your working environment, even cost you your job if you have to move on. But they can’t do any more.
I can see that this is a big issue for some of you. More to come. Hang in there guys.