I work with someone that can be considered a bully. I bet most of us do. Fortunately for me, I can take care of myself and I don’t allow this person to wreak havoc during my workday. Though I have to admit at times, it takes a great effort to turn the other cheek.
What is a Bully?
We hear the term a lot these days. A bully is someone who uses force or manipulation to maintain control over a victim. A bully is a person who attempts to control the words and actions of others. These people are typically obnoxious, ruthless and mean.
I have had experience with bullies in my adolescence and in my adulthood. We did not use the word bully when I was in grade school or high school. However, I can recall specific individuals that would have matched the bully definition today. Fortunately, I have never been a victim.
Although I have not been on the receiving end of a bully; I have witnessed such harassment and disruption at my workplace. One person, in particular, is verbally abusive, negative and is always on the look-out to criticize others.
Do not succumb to a bully
I get that bullies tend to pick on folks who are timid. It’s up to others to help the victim find their voice and strength to fight back. I am not advocating physical fighting. At the workplace, maturity and professionalism are vital in maintaining credibility.
Keep detailed notes of when you have witnessed bullying behavior. If you are unable to coach or encourage a victim, find someone that can. I believe the best place to start is with the bully’s boss. I am confident that most bosses are aware if one of their direct reports has behavioral issues.
Sharing first-hand accounts of bullying will help management build a case for possible discipline should the employee not improve their behavior. It is not ideal to learn about an employee’s unprofessional and harassing behavior months after it has been going on for awhile. Be bold and stand-up for the victim as soon as you can.
Call a bully out in front of others
The person referred to in the beginning paragraph once had a hissy-fit in her cubicle after she came across a mistake made by another employee. Her reaction was irrational and boarder-line insane. She threw paperwork across her desk and (loudly) cussed inappropriate and vulgar words for most of the office to hear. The person who made the error held back tears as she listened to her mistake being announced office-wide.
Then a brave co-worker shouted from another cubicle, “if I ever hear you use that kind of language again and make another employee feel bad for being human, I am going straight to HR.” Not only did most of the office hear this response, but a few claps could also be heard. This incident was the last time she had a temper tantrum at her desk again. Be brave and stand-up for the victim!
Kill with kindness
Until a bully is forced to get help and behave professionally, she will continue to berate her victims and intimidate them. Don’t let a bully get you down. Smile, even when you would rather shake a bully into being a nice person.
A bully hopes to get a rise out of others. Don’t return folly. Instead of answering a negative remark with a negative response, flip it around and say something positive. In a recent meeting, the person referenced above commented at a recent work meeting that “so and so” could not process a report correctly. I responded, “it is unfortunate that you have had this experience with so and so because I just worked with her on such and such and she out-did herself.”
Turn negative remarks into positive ones! You never know, you might be saving a coworker from becoming a victim by sharing positive things about them.
Put a bully on your prayer board
It seems appropriate to discard a bully and not care about their well-being. However, they need our prayers. Something has happened in their life that has made them angry, bitter and resentful. Something unfortunate has happened to them to make them push others around and try to gain power over their victims in such negative ways.
A bully is nothing more than a human being – just like you and me. Ask God to intervene and help them find happiness and joy. I would recommend that instead of gossiping about a bully with other co-workers, tell them that you are praying for the bully.
Just last week, when an office bully walked past me and two others talking in the hallway, one of the others started to say something negative about her. I interrupted by saying, “I have her on my prayer board and hope that she can turn things around because she has a brilliant mind.”
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of the edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” –Ephesians 4:29