Most people think bullying happens only in the playground. But it can happen in the workplace. An office bully can be a boss or co-worker–anyone who singles out another person for unreasonable, embarrassing, or intimidating treatment.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, up to a third of workers may be the victims of workplace bullying.
The increase in workplace bullying has even caught the attention of some politicians and there has been a 10-year-long move to pass the “Healthy Workplace Bill” across the country. The bill proposes to make changes to the current discrimination and harassment laws to address bullying concerns. Five states have seven versions of the Healthy Workplace Bill active in 2013. And since April 2009, 16 U.S. states proposed similar legislation.
If you find yourself a victim of workplace bullying, there are some first immediate steps you should take. “Document and isolate,” advises former Old School rapper turned sports agent and children’s author Glenn Toby, author of Lil G Faces the Brooklyn Bully. “This means contact a person in authority in or out of your organization to get assistance and consult them regarding the matter. Isolate means to identify each of the violations. Use eyewitnesses [and] recording devices (check local and regional laws). If there is a group of people offending you, breaking up the mob will help you in creating a strategy to identify who is lying or can help legal personnel or a law enforcement professional to better investigate and document the abuse.”
Also try to change your approach to the person or persons bullying you. “My best advice to someone being bullied in the workplace is to practice using phrases like, ‘I’m not comfortable with that’; ‘I see it differently’; ‘That doesn’t work for me’; ‘We disagree and have different styles of communicating,’” says Beverly Hills psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent. “You can set boundaries and regain control by using gentle language that drives your point home. It’s not necessary to make enemies at work. But, it is very important to define the lines that others may not cross. It is a quiet strength when someone can do this in a benign, clear, and matter of fact tone.”