Office Bullying-We’re All Just Big Kids
Office bullying is an extension of childhood bullying experienced by many of us. It may involve actual abusive behavior and/or language or may have manifest itself in milder forms such as excessive work delegation to the same party. The perpetrators of office bullying may be childhood bullies or childhood victims-turned-bullies with the leverage of having a title within the office. Whatever the case, no justification should be tolerated for their behavior.
Just Say “No”, Sometimes
Office bullying can be dealt with in various ways. To begin with learn to say NO and mean it. In an effort to be seen as kind and co-operative, people often take up too many responsibilities and tasks by agreeing to every request. This has the adverse effect of overloading one beyond their delivery capacities. Failure to deliver thereafter reflects badly on one’s appraisal reports which simply focus on results and not effort. Thus one must learn to say NO, within reasonable limits of course. Learning to say NO involves learning how to put it in a polite but firm way while stating the reasons why you cannot honor a request.
It is also as equally important to know your rights within the firm and they are mainly tied to protocol and organizational structure. This is a topic that is usually addressed during orientation, or one should inquire about it before appending their signature to the letter of appointment. While most companies include the clause “…expected to perform any extra duties as requested.” or a variation of it, it is important to get clarification on who one’s immediate supervisors are as it then limits the number of people from who you should entertain requests or favors from.
Define and maintain your boundaries from the first day. The most important boundaries are those of personal space and interpersonal communication. Boundaries define what is acceptable and what is not and can only be defined at the first instance of meeting up with someone. Therefore, while one cannot know who the office bully is on day one, it is advisable to ensure that you treat everyone with strictness professionalism and demand the same of them. This makes it hard for the bully to later on cross those lines.
Build up self-confidence and a sense of worth that acts as a mental shield from bullying. Bullies are not necessarily physical, they may operate via manipulations of the mind especially for the sweet talkers. Their objective, despite their mode of operation, is to make one feel bad or low about their competencies and from the resulting guilt trip seem to offer the way out by having one do certain things at their behest. The surest source of reassurance in such a case can be found from the fact that the firm has seen it fit to have one as part of their employees. This means that one is an asset to the firm and thus their contributions should not be minimized or dismissed.
Finally, one needs not to bear such harassment in silence. For most firms, there is an established complaint reporting system. Such channels should be used to their fullest. Expect, however, to be looked down upon for using such channels and being branded the sell-out. To shield oneself from direct reproach, firstly talk the situation over with your immediate supervisor or senior employees who’ve probably dealt with the bully before all the while keeping records of such communication. If the case persists and one feels that there is a lack of intervention by their supervisor, one can then register the complaint with records of communication indicating that the matter has been previously pursued through the supervisor.
This article was contributed by Erik Bowitz, Senior Resume Consultant and office-anti-bully. When he’s not offering employment advice you can find him tending his hydropontic carrot garden or fixing up vintage scuba equipment.