6 Tips to Deal with the Office Bully
Your colleague just dumps yet another task on you and you are already buried up to your neck with your current workload. What can you do? Check out these tips to help you deal with the office bully.
Learn to Say No
Reject requests if you know that you have too much on your plate.
Learning to say "no" is a form of strength in itself. More often than not, many of us find ourselves agreeing to too many requests and taking on too many responsibilities. One person can only handle that much.
Most office bullies target those who could not bring themselves to say "no" to them. Muster your courage to say "no" when the "bully" dumps his/her work on your table. Be polite but firm, saying that you regret you are not able to help him/her out as you have your own deadlines to meet.
Remain firm on your decision and do not waver in your decision to reject his/her request no matter what he/she might say to persuade you to "help out". If the situation turns ugly and the bully starts hurling verbal abuses at you, keep calm and politely tell him/her that you have to answer to your own superior and the tasks assigned to you are more urgent than the "favours" he/she is asking from you.
By keeping your cool, it will be very obvious to the onlookers in the office that you are being more professional than the bully who might already be blowing his/her top and raising his/her voice at you. Do not feel intimidated or ashamed at this point, as that is exactly what the bully intended you to feel. Show that you are not affected by him/her and you will emerge the "winner" in your "negotiation" in saying "no" to the bully.
Know Your Rights
When you signed the letter of appointment, you should be clear of whom you are reporting to at work and it should stay that way unless your employment contract is changed.
You have a right to reject the requests from other people except for your superior as it would be wrong for you to "work" for someone other than the superiors you are answerable to. By acknowledging this fact, you can be more self-assured and firm when dealing with the bully.
Be Aware of the Boundary
There is a thin line between what is right or wrong and what is acceptable or unacceptable at the workplace, especially in terms of interpersonal interaction. Be aware of the boundaries of what is acceptable or otherwise when dealing with the bully.
If you feel that your "personal space" is intruded by the bully, know that it is wrong and do something about it. A personal space is the distance between yourself and another person, when that space (your territory) is intruded, with the other person stepping into it, you may feel uncomfortable or nervous. Try to take a step back to maintain your personal space.
Know that it is very normal to feel intimidated and uncomfortable when your personal space is encroached so you have a right to demand that the other person respects your personal space.
If the bully is persistent in getting too close for your comfort, it might be considered a form of sexual harassment, even without the physical contact or verbal harassment. Get help and ask for advice from someone trustworthy and reliable.
Do not dismiss your discomfort as being overly sensitive because sexual harassment at the workplace is a problem of social interpersonal-relationships partly caused by insensitivity.
By applying Tip 3: Know Your Rights and Tip 4: Be Aware of the Boundary, you should be able to protect yourself from the office bully.
However, in certain extreme cases when the situation gets out of control, such as when the office bully has gone to the extent of extorting money from you or threatening to harm you, get help. Learn some self-defense moves to ward off possible attacks when you are alone and might be "stalked" by the bully.
If the situation turns from harmless to dangerous, talk to your superior or a trusted friend who could offer their opinion on how best to tackle the situation. In the worst case scenario, lodge a police report against the bully if the situation gets out of hand and the bullying case has turned into a criminal case, with your well-being at stake.
Avoid the Guilt Trip
A bully does what he/she does best - to make you feel bad. Do not fall into the trap by taking the guilt trip. You do not owe anything to the bully although he/she very much likes you to think that way. You do not have to feel guilty for not following what he/she says. You are not obliged to please him/her. And no matter what he/she says about you, you are not worthless or useless or the incapable worker that he/she wants to make you believe.
Do not succumb to the age-old trick of bullies - to make you actually feel "grateful" that he/she is actually helping you out by asking you do certain things to improve yourself. Build up your feeling of self-confidence and develop a sense of self-worth as well as assuring yourself that you are a valuable asset to the company. Never let the bully tell you or make you feel otherwise.