“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.”
A bully is a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable. Bullies don’t stop being bullies when they graduate from high school. The modern workplace is filled with adult bullies.
I loathe bullies – especially those in authoritative roles. Bully Bosses thrive on power and control. Their reign of terror is fueled by silence and fear.
If you walk on eggshells around your boss or being in their presence makes you feel anxious, sad, depressed, afraid, or drained you are probably working with a bully.
The Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute (WBTI), found that:
- 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct that takes place in the workplace.
- 60 million Americans are affected by workplace bullying.
- Bosses comprise 61% of bullies.
“Bullying is not a sign of the victim’s character, but rather a sign of the lack of the bully’s character.”
Being bullied by a supervisor can have a serious impact on your professional and personal life. Bullying in the workplace can look like this:
- Discounting your accomplishments
- Isolating you or signaling you out
- Unfair or irrational requests or responses
- Undermining your work
- Verbal abuse
- Regular accusations or questioning your commitment
- Ignoring your personal boundaries
- Spreading gossip and rumors
- Threats and intimidation
If you are experiencing any of this, please know that you don’t deserve it, didn’t cause it, and don’t have to take it. You have the right to work in a safe environment safe without fear harassment, or intimidation.
Although our efforts should be dedicated to preventing or eliminating workplace bullying, circumstances often require us to inform victims how to handle being bullied. There are various strategies for dealing with a hostile supervisor. The options listed below are not in any specific order and may not be applicable to every situation.
- Document the behavior.
- Remain calm, professional and in control of your emotions.
- Speak up and alert the person how their behavior is negatively impacting your work.
- Ask them to stop the behavior.
- Set clear boundaries about the treatment you expect and will accept.
- Seek a confidant for support.
- Report the behavior to human resources, your supervisor’s supervisor, or outside legal help if needed.
- Request a transfer to work with a different manager.
- Limit in-person interactions and avoid being in close proximity or alone with the person.
- Determine if others are being bullied as well and form an alliance to stop the behavior.
If you want to create an exit strategy and remove yourself from a toxic workplace, consider joining my On My Terms private coaching program. I am reopening my calendar for new clients this week.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.
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