Life Lessons: How to deal with bullies at work and outside….

 

I’ve mentioned before, in this new place I am now working, I have been having issues at work, but I’ve never really elaborated on it. Today I am going to talk about some of what I am going through and what I have learned from my research on how to deal with such issues. Maybe someone else can benefit from it.

 

 

I have a colleague on the same team, who is junior to me, both in the number of years of experience we have as well as in the hierarchy of the organisation. For some reason, from the day I joined the organisation, this person has been borderline rude with me. They would be careful to be sweet and nice when in the presence of others, it was only when they were with me and maybe an intern who was working with them, would the nastiness surface. I was new to the organisation and I didn’t know how things are run. This person had been here for around a year before I joined. Anytime I asked them anything, it would be met with a curt, “I am busy” but they were not busy to chit chat with others during the time they were supposed to be busy. This went for around a month, but till that time it was done very passively. After a month of this, I sent this person an email about something which was not in both our job scopes, but which we had to do to help out. My email to the person was that when they were away, I will step in and the very rude reply I got was it was not their job too and so I was not doing them any favours. I had copied the email to our manager and the reply was also sent to everyone.

 

At some point, I did bring up this person’s attitude to our manager, but till date, I have not seen a resolution of the issue. I am not sure if the manager has managed to speak to this person, but since I don’t really see any improvement in attitude, I am guessing no.

So what do I do in such a case? I decided to read up and am following these points. It may be useful to others who are recipients of workplace bullying which is why I decided to blog about it.

 

When faced with a bully at work, we can either leave that toxic environment, stay quiet in the hope that it will blow away or confront the bully. Since I was new, leaving was not an option, I did speak to our manager, who didn’t do much to mitigate the issue and I didn’t want to confront the bully, but wanted to make sure I was no longer bullied

 

I first stopped talking to the bully. I didn’t interact much with them unless it was work specific and even then, I made sure I always tried to email them with a copy to our manager. This way, any rude or bullying behaviour would be out in the open and also documented since my problem was that this bully was sweet in front of others and rude when it was just us interacting. You could also keep a record of all interactions with the bully and if possible document every interaction.

After you have gathered the information, try to make time with the bully and speak calmly and emotionlessly. I need to work on this as I tend to get emotional in such times, but take deep breaths if that helps and speak to the bully. This approach may or may not work, depending on how the bully rolls, so prepare to take a step back and come back with reinforcements (aka your manager).

 

Usually, the perpetrator in a bullying incident is mostly intimated by you, either by what you bring to the table in terms of experience or job knowledge or what they stand to lose in terms of how your work will affect their standing in the organisation. I suspect in my case this is what happened. The bully in my instance probably thought I was a threat to them, though how I don’t know and used rude and disrespectful tones and language to compensate for that.

 

Another thing that usually works is not to stoop down to the bully’s level. It’s very tempting (believe me, I know), to respond with rude behaviour when faced with such behaviour, but I now believe in this, as Michelle Obama famously said, “When they go low, we go high”! Respond to rude behaviour with extreme politeness. If the rude behaviour is via email, I go very formal and polite and when a senior person sees the email exchange, the contrast between the two tones cannot be more obvious!

Lastly, I’d say don’t take this rudeness and bullying personally and over analyse everything (I am guilty of this). It is possible that the bully might have felt slighted over something you said or did, which is why they are behaving the way they do. I suspect this could have happened in my case also. In the last month, maybe I said or did (or didn’t say or do) something which may have been important to this person. Maybe once you figure out the reason why the bully behaved that way, behaviours on both sides can change. I do plan to do exactly that and see if I can figure out why my bully is behaving in such a way and see if I can turn the situation around.

 

Do you have any other way to work around a bully? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

Poem: Alone

Alone

In a sea of people,  I am alone,
Lonely and in solitude, as I’d always known.

People around me talking and laughing,
But my ears hear only noise which seems like babbling.

Their mirth fills my ears but I still choose to ignore,
Passing off their talk as useless rancour.

I know in my heart, I am being anti-social,
But it seems like ignorance is perhaps blissful.

I don’t get sucked into people’s worlds,
Watch their lives, as it unfurls.

It’s a job, not my life which is already full of strife
I prefer to be alone, a loner all my life

Alone means being with your thoughts,
Alone means facing life head on, even its onslaughts

I love being alone, it’s never a pain
To pretend to like being with people, to have to feign

 

It’s been slightly more than three weeks since I started working and I got reacquainted with the beauty that is Office Politics!

 

For those who don’t know, Office politics “are the strategies that people play to gain an dvantage, personally or for a cause they support”. The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good.

Love it, revel in it, hate it or just play along with it, office politics are a staple in every organisation, be it a small organisation or a large multinational company. Someone who wants to be successful in his/her career needs to know how to play the game and eventually become a master at it!

 

I’ve seen different forms of the games people play at work and sometimes am amazed by the audacity of some of the tactics some people employ to get ahead. I always wonder if these people are wasted in the role they are in, they may have been better off as politicians instead of being a corporate slave.

 

 

To win at this game and come out smelling of roses, here are some strategies you should use, preferably as soon as you join a new organisation:

 

Map your organisation

In most organisations, the real power is not where the formal power lies. For example, maybe someone who has been there for a long time and knows the organisation inside-out, but who is fairly junior in position, may weld more soft power than the head of the organisation. This person may be able to influence people across the organisation and so has more power as he/she can people towards or away from someone.

So when you join a new organisation, watch for a couple of weeks and find out who the real influencers are and make them like you too.

 

Build social relations across the hierarchy

Make sure that the social relations you build in the organisation across formal hierarchies, you should be friends from people across the strata, most junior to most senior. This helps you to win people across the organisation and also know what is happening elsewhere in the organisation. When you are friends with people, they tend to help you, not only with information, but also with things that may be new to you or things you may be unfamiliar with.

I had a colleague like that, this person was super friendly and made friends easily and across the organisation. This person was also very helpful and would go out of their way to help people and so used this currency to build relations and also get the gossip from across departments and sections.

 

Be Neutral

At work, it is very easy to get caught up in gossip and eventually end up taking sides. This could misfire horribly. So the best thing to do is to be completely neutral. Even when people rant about other people in front of you, just nod neutrally and move away from there as soon as possible. When you take sides in any issue, it will inevitably come to bite you in the back.

 

Be Objective and professional

When office politics comes to play, personalities are involved and we may be mad at someone or the other. At times like this, maybe you want to vent out to someone and this most likely takes the shape of a gossip and veers to the person’s personal characteristics. Don’t give in to this! Even if you win this war, you will ultimately lose the larger battle.

Be professional in your attitude and your exchanges with your superiors, peers and subordinates at all times. This attitude will pay off in more ways than one.

 

So here you have four ways in which you can play the office politics game and come out a winner. Do you have any more strategies which help in navigating the minefield which is office politics? I’d to hear from you in the comments below.

Poem: I know….

I know I can fall down
I know you will make sure I get up and go
I know you are around, but you won’t show yourself to me
I know that you keep me safe and sound
I know that I can rely on you to make sure I don’t run aground
I know that you’ve got my back
I know that you’ll make me pick my slack
I know that you love me whatever happens
I know that this will be in spite of life’s directions
So I strong in the face of adversity
Lead a life that’s carefree
Because I know you have my back
My support, my friend, my hero
I know….

Poem: Hope

When life throws you a curveball, it is only hope that keeps our spirits alive.

Hope

When you are so sad and depressed,
When your world feels like it will end,

When you don’t want to leave your bed or room,
When you feel the world is against you.

Then like a little ray of hope, a small flicker which clears the gloom,
Like the flame of light that lights a room,
Like the tiny thread of happiness that clears your sense of doom.

The ray of hope that flows from the heart,
That which warms the ramparts of the heart.

That which makes the world a beautiful place,
That which makes your heart sing and lets it chase.

This is hope my friends, the emotion that lets life befriend
Hope that makes the world being something we can now comprehend