Bullying is becoming a universal topic throughout the business world. No workplace is safe from a bully and this behavior should not be encouraged. South Australia has bought in legislation to deal with this problem and I’m of the understanding that other Australian states will soon follow. Until then, how do you deal with a bully?
Don’t be a victim
The first thing is that you must not act or become a victim. Ensure that you are assertive and don’t let the bully browbeat you into submission.
I must admit that a bully is easier to deal with if they are of the same level or lower than you as opposed to a bully who is your line manager or supervisor. Either way, don’t let them know that they are affecting you.
Sometimes, this is easier said than done. If you anticipate that their behavior is going to cause you problems, then act before it gets out of control.
Keep a record
Keep a diary or journal of what the bully is doing and when they are doing it. No one is going to take your claim seriously unless you have proof or evidence of incidents actually taking place.
If your office keeps an OHS&W report book, create a report there. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, then stick to the diary idea.
The key is to put detailed information regarding the incident in the diary. It’ll be really helpful in accurately reporting the events. Also, the bully is not going to keep it up if they know that you are recording all the details.
Talk to A Higher Personnel
Next thing to do is arrange a meeting with your line manager, supervisor or staff support representative and discuss your claim with them. If your line manager or supervisor is the one causing the problems, then go to their manager.
In this case, I would make sure that I have all the facts. It may pay to discreetly ask co-workers if they felt that they were being placed under awkward circumstances or felt they were being bullied, too.
Also, see if they would support your claim of bullying or if they had witnessed any incidents between the two of you. Regardless of rank, witnesses of bullying are always good to have as they can back up your claim.
In the meeting, discuss how you feel about working with this person. Explain the emotional and mental stress you are being placed under. Also, tell them that you have been keeping a detailed account of all incidents.
They will or should arrange a meeting with the bully and lay down the law. They may also suggest mediation between the two of you as the bully may not realize that his behavior is affecting you this way.
Mediation is a great idea. It will allow you to lay down some ground rules as to how you expect to be treated. If the bullying continues, you can say that you tried mediation.
It may get to the point that you may need to be transferred to another area or apply for another job. However, if your employer doesn’t take the claim seriously, you may be able to take it further. Contact your union or Department for Industry for further information and advice.