If you’ve worked in a place with more than a few people, chances are that you’ve dealt with an office bully. Office bullies, unfortunately, are just one of the hazards of working with other people. There’s always one person who is just difficult and rude.
I worked with a woman who was a classic office bully. She tore through the office, screaming and cursing like a madwoman. Often, she didn’t even appear to know what she was going on about. She would rant and rave about some undone task to find out that it had already been done or, that she herself was notified of a change of plans days before. Despite this, she continued to terrorize the office with her antics. I never did figure out why management didn’t put a stop to her behavior. She didn’t appear to be an indispensable employee. She seemed to be a rather run of the mill employee: decent at her job but, not irreplaceable.
Dealing with my office bully, while unpleasant, did teach me how to handle such a difficult personality.
My office bully has had more than one screaming tirade aimed at me. Why was she screaming and cursing at me? Who knows. It wasn’t anything personal. That was just how she spoke.
To combat the crazy, I found that it was best to speak in a low, calm voice. It’s hard to stay yelling at someone for very long when that person isn’t engaging you. She would see that I wasn’t in a hysterical mood, so she would start to feel like she was overreacting and she would eventually tire herself out. It’s not unlike dealing with a toddle who’s having a tantrum.
If you know the person you have to deal with is prone to overreactions and other bullying behavior, be prepared for this person. Have what you will say mapped out so you don’t get sucked into their haze of lunacy. Just say what you came to say and then leave. The less time you spend with the person, the less time they have to bully you.
Stand Your Ground
You don’t have to be bullied. I doubt when you were hired, dealing with this person’s tantrums was part of your job description. So, if needed, tell this person how you feel. You don’t have to have a Hallmark Moment with them; that is not likely to happen. However, you can tell them “I will not be spoken to this way. If you need to speak to me, please do so in a professional manner.” Then, walk away. Don’t deal with them unless they are behaving in a civil manner.
If necessary, you may have to go to your supervisor or HR if your bully is just out of control. There aren’t really laws against office bullying but, your company may have a policy against such behavior. At the least, someone else will become aware of the problem. Sometimes, this is enough to make the bully tone down their behavior. At heart, most bullies are cowards and they don’t want someone more powerful to know how unprofessional they are behaving.
Having an office bully is an unfortunate situation. However, if you stay calm, prepare yourself, and stand your ground, you are less likely to be a victim of one.
How do you deal with an office bully?
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