Career masterclass: Deal with an office bully

Bullying doesn't end with someone nicking your dinner money or flushing your head down the school loo. The good news is it can be beaten.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Gather proof. Document everything, however small. Save bullying emails, keep a diary of incidents and secure witnesses. Accusations of bullying are serious. Can you support yours?

Confront them. Keep your challenge specific, polite and firm: 'I find it demeaning when you mock me in front of my reports, and I'd like you to stop, please.' Stand tall, maintain eye contact and, if you're met with a threatening silence, hold your nerve.

Be the bigger person. If you can't confront your bully, rise above him or her. Ignore attempts at childish provocation, smile calmly and walk away. Now who looks like the fool?

Seek support. Don't let the bully isolate you. Nurture your friendships and find a mentor who has dealt with bullying before. If you know others who feel persecuted, join forces.

Do your job well. A bully will publicly undermine you at every opportunity. Don't let that happen. Delight your clients, smash your targets and impress those who matter most.

Look after yourself. In stressful times, our welfare can suffer and the impact on our mental resilience can be severe. Make an extra effort to eat well, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.

Break the cycle. When we feel victimised, it's tempting to find a victim of our own. Take out your frustration on a cushion or a punch bag, but not a person. You'll need every friend you've got.

Go to the top. Don't be intimidated by authority or reporting lines. If the bully is your manager, talk to the MD. If your MD's the tyrant, go to the board. Keep climbing until somebody listens.

Learn from them. Once the bully has been dealt with, consider if any of the criticisms were justified. Might others share those views? Identify three things you could do differently and better. Make the experience work for you.

- The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 - www.themindgym.com/books. Visit www.managementtoday.com/masterclass for further information about MindGym/MT masterclasses.

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