The term bullying has become more widespread over the years and for good reason. But there seems to be a lack of understanding about the difference between having a boss and actual toxic bullying in the business environment — and about how you should respond to the latter.
First, why does bullying occur?
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There are many reasons, but the most common is power — either a power imbalance or a threat to power. The bully is either on a power trip, or in a position where they feel they will lose their current status or believe you have the power to take it from them.
If you are unsure about whether this is happening or has happened to you, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are they making threats, perhaps that if you don’t do what they ask they will “tell someone something about you”
2. Do they ignore your requests and then accuse or blame you in times of pressure?
3. Do they gossip about you, undermine you or spread rumours trying to discredit your character with your contacts?
4. Do they abuse you verbally, whether in public or in private?
5. Are they stalking you online or calling you, trying to pressure you to do what they want?
If the answer is yes to one or more of the above then, yes… you’re being bullied.
How to deal with it
1. Never compromise your moral core or character in how you respond.
2. Try to understand that this person is themselves living a life of constant anxiety and chaos, and bullying is the only way they know how to get what they want… you can show them there IS a better way.
3. Avoid reacting, as they often want you to feel fearful of their threats or break down and cry. If you need to do that, then do it privately but remain firm and keep a poker face in public.
4. Document everything. You may not need to use it, but it’s best to keep track of their behaviour just in case you need to take it further. keep notes in a diary, of date, time, and details of what was said or done.
5. Build alliances. Around and above them. People can see who they are and will see how you respond. Stay classy, build alliances with all the right people and don’t say a bad word about the bully to anyone. Rise above it.
6. Forgive. And often. Forgiving someone doesn’t justify their actions or release them from reaping what they are sowing. It frees you from being bound by their actions and allows you to hold your head high and continue to work towards your goals.
Amanda Rose is the only ‘strategic connector’ in Australia, a brand strategist, speaker, host of Amanda Rose TV, founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Quoted as an “internet winning blogger” by TIME.com. Follow Amanda on Twitter.