6 Suggestions for dealing with bullies in the workplace

“Why you #$#*##, if you pull this #$^&% again, I’ll *&*&^”

I couldn’t believe it. Here was a man I went to church with, giving me a good old fashion cussing out. At work. In public. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time it had happened. My first year of marriage was miserable, and not because of my beautiful bride, but because of the workplace environment.

That was 20 years ago now, and I still feel the sting a little. From what I understand, not much as changed in many places. I had a conversation with a friend about an ongoing conflict at his workplace 2 days ago. The employee in person when called on an issue, started yelling and screaming and otherwise trying to verbally demolish the supervisor. He then proceeded to use other events to bully another employee. Everyone is now afraid of this nut. Mission accomplished. Power.

Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins accused his teammates of workplace bullying and it made national news in the US.

On the playground, we tell kids to stand up to bullies. I remember being the new kid, the foreign kid, the weirdo in 11th grade during a 1 year furlough back in the US for my parents from an overseas assignment. picked on, hit, pushed, the list went on. Till one day in basketball practice, I had had enough. I took a basketball and pegged my tormentor in the kidneys after one such incident. It never happened again.

But at work, in an adult environment, physical violence, punching the bully if you will, is not usually going to make things better. Such people are often master manipulators and can even use the law to their advantage. What to do then?

Here are some suggestions, and then I’d like to hear yours.

1. Quit .The day my boss cussed me out in public, I went back to my office, got my keys and left. Before I was home, I had three apology calls. Not everyone will back down, but in today litigious society, just walk out. I never got cussed out again.

2. Keep a detailed record. Even a voice recording if you have a phone that is able. You need documentation. Each incident, each text.

3. Invite a 3rd party. Bully’s hate 3rd parties because each person you add increases the level of exposure. And if there is anything a bully hates, its being exposed.

4. Refuse to rise to the bait. Bullies of all ages thrive on the bait and switch game, and trust me, they are masters at this. Don’t play the game. Swallow hard, and walk away.

5. Report physical confrontations to the police immediately. Usually the first person to report is the one who gets the most trust, since you aren’t on the defensive.

6. Pity their wives, husbands, and kids. Realize that this person has a whole social network that has to live with them. You get their venom a few minutes a day, these family members get it all the time. Pity them. Imagine going through life with the weight of this kind of garbage on you. In your mind, you will make a switch from being the victim to seeing them as the one to pity.

There are few things as damaging as an adult bully. What strategies do you use in coping with people like this?

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