The term bullying has become more widespread over the years, and for good reason. But there seems to be a lack of understanding about the difference between a boss and actual toxic bullying in the business environment -- and about how you should respond.
First, why does bullying occur?
There are many reasons, but the most common is power -- either a power imbalance or a threat to power. The bully is either on a power trip, or in a position where they feel they will lose their current status or believe you have the power to take their power from them.
If you are unsure about whether this is happening or has happened to you, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are they making threats, perhaps that if you don't do what they ask they will "tell someone something about you?"
2. Do they ignore your requests and then accuse or blame you in times of pressure?
3. Do they gossip about you, undermine you or spread rumours trying to discredit your character with your contacts?
4. Do they abuse you verbally, whether in public or in private so no one knows?
5. Are they stalking you online or calling you, trying to pressure you to do what they want?
If the answer is yes to one or more of the above then, yes -- you're being bullied. Now the most important point here is how to deal with it:
1. Never compromise
Now is not the time to compromise your moral core or character in how you respond.
2. Try and understand
In all honesty this person is themselves living a life of constant anxiety and chaos, and bullying is the only way they know how to get what they want. You can show them the buck stops with you and there IS a better way.
3. Avoid reacting
The person attempting to bully you often wants you to feel fearful of their threats or break down and cry. If you need to, then do it privately but remain firm and with a poker face in public.
4. Document everything
You may not need to use it, but it's best to keep track of their behaviour just in case you need to take it further. Keep notes in a diary, of date, time and details of what was said or done.
5. Build alliances
Around them and above them. People can see who they are and will see how you respond. Stay classy, build alliances with all the right people and don't say a bad word about the bully to anyone. Rise above it.
6. Forgive. And often
Forgiving someone doesn't justify their actions or release them from reaping what they are sowing. It frees you from being bound by their actions and allows you to hold your head high and continue to work towards your goals.