Dear Orna: My boss is a bully. Every day is like going into battle. He yells and screams at me if front of others, insults my best efforts and talks behind my back. I feel intimidated and am afraid to go in to work. How can I better manage this horrible situation?
~ Signed: No More Mr. Nice Guy
Dear NO-MORE-MR.-NICE-GUY: Bullying in the workplace is as bad as abuse in the home. Whether it's a co-worker who constantly talks over you at meetings, a boss who makes jokes at your expense or a team that leaves you out of key updates and events . . . it can be emotionally and physically devastating. Victims often suffer from anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, migraines, stomach trouble and even heart disease. This is not something to be taken lightly!
It's More Common Than You Think
According to a study by the Zogby Institute, 35% of Americans report having been bullied at work. Bosses comprise 72% of bullies and most bullies are men. Unfortunately, most bully targets are women. And this study found that nearly half of those targeted by a bully experience stress-related heath problems like panic attacks and clinical depression.
Why do bullies bully? Often it's because they need a lot of attention to fill their own insecurities. So by bullying someone else, they feel powerful. If possible, these are people we should all stay away from!
Stop That Bully!
Three simple things you might consider in order to manage your bullying situation:
First: Recognize the abusive behavior for what it is. It is bullying! So don't let it undermine your confidence. And don't apologize for your behavior while your abuser is ranting, even if you have made a mistake.
Second: Don't play their game. Don't allow yourself to be baited. Chances are, the bully is looking for a reaction. Don't react and keep your behavior and comments professional. Instead, remain in control and refuse to respond while the abuser is ranting at you. Walk out or hang up the phone.
Third: Know when to fold. If you made an effort, sought support from your HR department and still, nothing changes, you may need to consider the possibility of finding a better situation.
Don't let bullies bully you. Stand up for yourself or get out. The battle may not be worth fighting.