Within the workplace, there can be little doubt that bullies are usually in a unique position to take advantage of others. In a school or university setting, administrators will usually be able to swiftly deal with bullies in an organized manner.
Due to the fact that many bullies in workplaces tend to be either directly or indirectly in positions of power over others, it can be very difficult for most individuals to respond to bullying in a way that does not cost them significant amounts of stress. For example, many employees who speak up about workplace bullying tend to worry about losing their position or facing bad job recommendations in the future.
Taking Things Up With Company Leaders
Fortunately, there are things that individuals can do to escape toxic situations at work. For example, a good rule of thumb in any position of employment is to be prepared with an exit strategy. If a workplace is toxic and beyond repair, in other words, there is no shame in pursuing interviews with other companies. Without a doubt, determining whether a particular employment situation is worth staying in can allow you to plan your next step forward.
It may be worth staying with a company if the situation is workable on some level. Most workplace bullies are only cruel to their subordinates or colleagues: More often than not, these bullies are terrified of their superiors and will back down when called out on their behavior.
In fact, it can often be a better idea to talk to a bully’s manager than to address problems directly to the person doing the bullying. When they see that their actions may have consequences, to put it another way, most workplace bullies will discontinue their negative behavior.
Why Assertiveness Matters
Of course, this kind of plan only works if the upper management within an organization is concerned about employee welfare. If this is not the case, it may be better for bullied individuals to find a new position elsewhere. There is nothing worse in a work environment than leaders who turn a blind eye to distressing behaviors on the part of managers and employees.
Even if the situation is essentially a lost cause, however, it can still be a good idea to tell a bully how you feel in an assertive and forthright way. Using “I feel” statements in these situations can allow you to get your point across to a bully without lowering yourself to their level. For example, a person who is bullied by a manager might say, “When it seems like you call my abilities into question in front of my team, I feel saddened. Would you mind not putting me down in front of my colleagues?”
What “I Feel” Statements Accomplish (And Don’t Accomplish)
It is important to note that “I feel” statements won’t necessarily change the mind (or the actions) of the person doing the bullying. But using these statements will allow you to express your feelings and set boundaries in appropriate ways. If your bully continues to act in a mean or spiteful fashion, they may be simply beyond help.
At the end of the day, it is important to realize that the bully’s personal issues are not your problem: Remember, a bully’s behavior is a reflection of their own negative sense of self-worth. Being assertive to a bully may be difficult, it is true, but harboring feelings of resentment towards a workplace tyrant for months or even years on end can be extremely detrimental to anyone’s self-esteem and physical health.