When people hear the word bullying, they often picture their childhood experiences. However, adult bullying is alive and well. These childhood memories make it easy for adult bullies to get their way without their victims even realizing what’s happening. Furthermore, most adults don’t know how to handle these bullying situations.
The first time I encountered adult bullying in the workplace, I felt fortunate that I recognized the behaviors and took the appropriate steps to rectify the situation. Here are five proven strategies for handling adult bullying at work or in other interactions.
1. Remove yourself from the situation.
Let’s say you are a college freshman looking to join a Greek organization. Since hazing is illegal, you assume joining will be safe. However, you soon realize that the fraternity or sorority utilizes hazing with their pledges. Belonging to that organization isn’t worth enduring that torment. Walk away!
- Pro: Immediately removes you from the bullying and enables you to regain your peace of mind.
- Con: This method is simply not possible in every situation.
2. Document, document, document!
Let’s say your boss becomes angry with you for calling out of work due to illness. He tells your coworkers that you made up your illness and were just hungover, and he even disregards the doctor’s note you provide. Other employees witness the inappropriate way he treats you and the derogatory language he uses. Use all of this to your advantage and take a well-documented account of the situation to HR!
- Pro: Done the right way with thorough documentation, this method can help make your environment safe for everyone, especially at work.
- Con: Many situations outside of the workplace don’t have a place for you to report actions.
3. Open up to someone who can help.
Let’s say a coworker makes sexually inappropriate comments, but only when nobody else can hear. You feel uncomfortable and on edge at work, and even changed your wardrobe with no relief. Try talking to a trusted friend or even your parents. Take it a step further and consider confiding in a professional counselor or hiring an attorney. Sharing the situation with a professional who can help will open doors for you.
- Pros: You’ll no longer be alone in your struggles.
- Cons: Very few people can offer more than validation and comfort.
4. Know your rights!
Let’s say you’re a single woman moving into a new apartment. Your credit score and income meet the requirements and you pay the security deposit. Suddenly, the landlord walks you to a completely different unit and verbally states a completely different rental rate than you previously agreed upon. Knowing your rights in this situation could mean the difference between winning the settlement or enduring months of unfair treatment from this landlord.
- Pro: No one will take advantage of you and get away with it.
- Con: This requires extensive research and understanding that laws differ between states.
5. Use assertive communication skills.
Someone you used to really care about has started making mean, possibly even cruel, comments about you publicly via social media. Since the person is not threatening you, the police cannot help. Therefore, the best course of action is to use your assertive communication skills and confront the bully directly.
- Pro: This is the most direct method, and you can repeat as often as needed.
- Con: It may or may not end the bullying.
If you are experiencing bullying, hopefully these tips inspire you to take action and help you approach the situation in the best way possible. We should eliminate bullying for good, but that will only happen when everyone knows how to cope with it in a healthy way. Go forth and conquer your bullies!
Featured image via Pexels.