Do you hear the following comments?
- There are no bullies in our department
- Women have to learn how to play with the “boys”
- People are too sensitive these days
These are all red flags that need to be taken seriously. Just because you don’t hear colleagues or employees complain about bullies, doesn’t mean that bullies don’t exist at work. As a trainer, I’ve discovered that bullies are lurking in the halls. They may not be loud as on a playground. I report on the reality about bullies and promote respect in the workplace.
You will find strategies to use when you hear the 3 comments above in your workplace.
Dealing with Bullies Strategy #1: Look deeper when you hear, “There’s nothing wrong in our department.”
If you are a leader ask your team members individually if they have observed or have been a victim of bullies in your workplace. Hopefully, your team will be honest. It’s another story if you are one of the bullies!
I ask the question before my Be Direct with Respect® workshops. More than often, the answer is “Yes”. There are bullies and nothing ever gets addressed.” I share the interviews during the training (only when 3 or more people respond the same way). Many times people don’t even realize that they shake their heads up and down when I ask if they experience bullies at work.
Dealing with Bullies Strategy #2: How to respond when there are prejudicial comments at work.
Leaders need to stop people when they hear team members harass others concerning gender, minorities, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Besides preventing lawsuits, how about creating a respectful workplace!
I find that some leaders don’t have the skills to stop these comments. They may even ignore them or discount employees who make a complaint.
Leaders are role models. I suggest that they contact their HR department or review legal documents to tell their team that discrimination can’t be tolerated. There is no gray area. One of the most rewarding parts of my career is helping leaders become better at what they do. Direct communication and expressing expectations are part of their job – no compromise on this!
Dealing with Bullies Strategy #3: How to deal with others who discount the harassment.
If a recipient feels that he or she is being bullied – they are telling their truth. Period. It has nothing to do with being too sensitive. Some people think that sarcasm is their culture.
If everyone is sarcastic on your team, it may work. I’m very sarcastic. I also know that sarcasm can’t be used when someone finds my comments hurtful. There is a fine line in teasing and being mean.
Leaders need to train the entire staff about respect. This is the new normal. Several weeks ago I presented to a group and an interviewee told me, “Joyce I hope you are not going to take our sarcasm away. That’s how we operate here.” I told her that I won’t be wearing pearls or white gloves. I will be sharing information from interviews that show that bullies exist and they need to be addressed. After the training, this individual thanked me for bringing this to her attention and for educating her about the importance of knowing your audience when using sarcasm.
Leaders may not realize that there are bullies in their workplace. They can see physical injuries yet can’t see emotional injuries. Quiet colleagues or employees may not report bullying right away because they may fear retaliation. Look for signs. Are people more depressed or is their job performance going down the tubes?
Ask bullies to think of their kids, nieces, nephews or sisters: how would they like it if bullies harassed them?
I ask bullies to put their mother or father on their shoulders (if they respect their parents).
This is the time for all of us to do a better job of paying attention to the workplace culture. Bullies need to be addressed and victims need encouragement to express their concerns without the fear of retaliation.
I want to hear from you
Add a comment to my blog on how your leaders address bullies. You will receive a response from me because I enjoy connecting with my readers! 🙂 You are always welcome to send me a private email HERE with concerns that you are experiencing at work.
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This is Joyce Weiss
Corporate Communication Strategist and Career Coach
Have a great week.
Until next time, Remember…“You Get What You Tolerate!”