Bully Blocking at Work
It is wonderful spending time with your children while they are little but there are probably times when you miss the exciting, challenging world of work. Eventually the time comes and you return to the workplace.
You may find that there are new routines to adapt to, some recent developments or practices and some other things that never change. One of these is dealing with workplace bullies.
You may be surprised to read that more than one in four people have bullying experiences at work. Bullying can seriously injure your health, wellbeing and career.
Here are some simple tips for mothers returning to work.
Remember that scared, sensitive little baby crying for food, mum etc? Well the nasty or insensitive bully is just the same. They are feeling insecure, lack empathy and need to pick on someone else and make their life misery.
Tip 1. Set boundaries, be polite and keep a record of mean behaviours and get help higher up if you need to.
Did you ever yell at your toddler and then feel bad? Well people do the same at work. They are tired, under pressure, having a bad day etc. The fact is that most people can abuse their power, without meaning to…. perhaps they are jealous of you, maybe you didn’t sleep too well as the little one was up all night and you are crotchety and so on.
Tip 2. Create a friendly conversation to see what is going on, in their life and your’s. Try to find a way to work together.
Did you ever feel that you took up a lot of space when you were pregnant? Well there are lot of people who do the same at work, especially big men who like to throw their weight around.
Tip 3. Move away, or speak very loudly so others notice or get someone to support you. Alternatively try naming, ” Hi X, do you realise that when you stand over me, while I am working at my desk, that I feel intimidated and harassed?” Use their feedback to guide you.
Do you ever find that toddlers exclude your precious bundle at kinder or school? Well that also happens at work, this is called exclusion. You could be left out of the email loop, meetings or social occasions.
Lots of women will be jealous because you had time at home with your children. Lots of men will be jealous because they believe that because you work less, that you do less than them. ( I bet they have never minded a few young children for a few days!)
Tip 4. Identify when it is on purpose and when it is an honest mistake, however, if you don’t confront, they won’t know or feel accountable to your feelings, eg “I felt upset when you left me out of…..” Always use their feedback to see if they care or don’t. If they don’t care about how you feel, well, watch out and protect yourself!!! Maybe think about working elsewhere.
Do you ever have to negotiate peace between a few children wanting the same toy, computer or game or something different such as a TV program?
The same situation also occurs at work, things can be unfair. Thus someone else gets a better shift, more acknowledgment, a promotion, or are invited into the Boys club or Bitches group.
Tip 5. Work how what social skills others use to be included and respected. This may mean using friendly flatter, not rocking the boat, don’t remind them of their failures or threaten them and always make them feel good.
You may have to ask someone with power to intervene and negotiate a fairer deal or make a formal complaint, people jump when things are in writing but this may upset the bully and his mates and they will payback, like your kids or dogs do!!
Perhaps you may just want to make a joke about it, eg “Hey X, what do I have to do to get the same shifts as everyone else.” “It seems I am in the dog house, how do I get out of it?”
By Evelyn Field
Evelyn M. Field is the author of (Australian Academic Press, $29.95) which has lots more tips and options for workers faced with the problem. Available now at all major bookstores or online at Australian Acedemic Press.
Evelyn also has a website which is a great resource: www.bullying.com.au