“Some things are only real if you believe in them” Unknown Please follow the story
D ear reader, you probably wondered why some people are bullies.
You also probably wondered what happened eventually to Bibi and me. In this part 2 of The Workplace Bully I will explain how you can turn into a bully and what the bully and the bullied can do to help their situations.
Recognising bullying behaviour in others is quite easy but are we able to see these behaviors in ourselves? Experts say that if you have ever been bullied, its likely you can become a bully too. Yes, you may start bullying others without realizing it. Recently, a colleague of mine complained about me making sarcastic statements, even though other colleagues stood up for me and said they considered my statements jokes, The practical examples of bullying flashed at me. Although I was bewildered at thought of such a feedback, I decided to be more accommodating of the complainant and be less blunt. My objective is not to undermine anyone’s self-esteem.
Bullying is a defense mechanism for the bully. They believe that by bullying they will be immune to being bullied. At times bullies are unhappy or insecure, they want attention. If you notice yourself blowing up or lashing out at others when you are afraid you won’t get a desired thing or outcome, then watch it! Here’s what you can do:
• Apologize to whoever you have bullied and follow up with being nice to the person. Those you have bullied may not warm up to you instantly but with time they will.
• Find something you are good at and derive joy from it. You probably suffer from low self-esteem.
• Reach out to someone and talk about it. Seek out a therapist or counselor.
For the bullied, the first thing you need to do when you are being bullied is not to blame yourself for the abuse. We tend to make excuses for bad behaviour in our society. Don’t reason with your abuser because as I mentioned earlier, at this level it’s not likely a bully will break his or her pattern of behaviour without professional help. It’s not your responsibility. You need to:
• Speak out about what is happening to you. Discuss first with the HR in your place of work. The usual saying is that you can’t win against your boss. Perhaps that is true, but you can be heard, bullying in the workplace is an issue that needs to be addressed. When I first discussed my issues with the head of HR in my organization, I was asked why I had not spoken out, so be encouraged and speak out when you have these issues. If there is a formal mechanism for such issues, kindly make use of it but if you sense your workplace accepts or encourages bullying to take place, be careful.
• You can reach out to people, but you really need to be careful at this point of reaching out. I remembered the story of a lady that went viral on social media in Nigeria sometime back. She was being bullied at work by her line manager and she usually discussed it with a senior colleague at work who even stood up for her against her manager.
The unfortunate thing was that this lady was raped by this same senior colleague she had confided in and trusted. This senior colleague always had a listening ear, she had grown to trust him as someone she could have recourse to as such, she was unsuspecting when he asked her to meet him at a penthouse somewhere.
This senior colleague turned out to be a nightmare, as if raping the lady was not enough, he constantly blackmailed her in the office to the point where she had an abortion and almost died. I was lucky I could reach out to a few colleagues and especially family. Family is precious in situations like this. I had unbiased advice from family members who were also leading corporate organizations.
• You need to disengage and set personal boundaries with the bully. Limit your exposure to your abuser as much as you can. It may not be easy to avoid calls from such people but try to set boundaries and still be respectful. I had to limit certain things like calls outside work hours so that things did not degenerate.
• Exit the relationship. Bibi resigned. I was redeployed and moved on to other things not as I had planned but it was certainly better than staying on in an abusive work relationship. My other colleagues all resigned.
• Give yourself time to heal. Healing will not happen in one day. There is the tendency to underestimate the damage that may have been done to you emotionally especially your self-esteem.
You might not be a victim of workplace bullying but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it if you notice someone is being bullied. You can:
• Speak up and help them feel safe. It takes courage to stand up to a bully but let them know their actions aren’t cool. Sometimes when people know about their actions and how it hurts others, they may rethink their actions and words.
• Listen without making judgements. I know even with this story, some readers have judged.
• Show care for the person being bullied. Invite them to join you and your friends at activities. I remember a colleague in another department on one occasion invited me to join them to visit another colleague who was delivered of a baby. I was really happy to have joined. Being bullied hurts a person’s confidence, friendship helps.
• Educate others about what you know about bullying, that way you might be able to change the way they treat people.
Dear reader – workplace bulling is hurtful and confusing. You can lose self-confidence, self-esteem, there is increased risk of stress. You can experience a range of symptoms like; depression, self-doubt, sleeplessness, eating disorders, emotional and physical fatigue. One of the comments received regarding this story on this blog suggests that many underperforming, ill motivated workers in organizations are results of bullying You need a sound mind and good health so reject bullying.
Adebisi Blaq is a career oriented professional. She is also an entrepreneur. She enjoys lonesomeness. Usually minds her business but can be rebellious in situations of injustice. She writes from Lagos.
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