If you’ve been in the workforce for very long then you have probably had to interact with a supervisor that is a borderline psychotic, excuse me, I meant to say that seems to derive pleasure from being a bully. They are the ones that work hard to create a hostile environment in the workplace. They will do this through intimidation, threats, insults, vulgar language, slamming doors, throwing things or by just screaming at everyone. Regardless of which one of these actions they use, they make life miserable for everyone else in the office. It’s like walking on Legos, you try to step as quietly and carefully as possible so you avoid as much pain as possible.
It’s almost as if the Bully plans out the day with ways that they can make life miserable for any and every one they interact with. For them, life is all about chaos, creating tension in the workplace and generally making life suck for all their employees. You arrive to work in the morning and start counting the minutes until you can leave for lunch, take a break or clock out for the end of the day. While the Bully is thinking he is making you work harder and being more productive, in actuality you do less work and make more errors.
So what’s the answer? How do you turn things around so that you can be productive and start enjoying life again? It’s not easy and can be close to impossible, especially if the Bully is in a position to terminate your employment (even though they are the ones that need to be terminated!). There’s really only one answer, you have to bully the Bully. But not in the way you are thinking. You can’t fight fire with fire, all that will do is make the environment hotter and more unbearable. You have to bully the Bully with kindness, compassion, calmness and prayer (there’s that not Politically Correct word again).
To bully the Bully you can try several things:
- Don’t participate in their ravings and screaming. When they start down that road of chaos and destruction just put out your hand and stop them (politely) and say “excuse me, but this is not getting us anywhere and I cannot not sit here and listen to your abuse. I am going to go back to my area and will come back when you’re ready to discuss this in a calm manner.” Now this will do one of three things, either get you fired, make them stop and think about what they are doing or they will call you back in a few minutes and start all over again.
- Share your concerns with management. If the Bully is the boss, then share your feelings with other employees. There is strength in numbers and if everyone is being treated the same way then maybe it’s time to get together as a group and address the situation.
- Find the person that the Bully relates to (and I assure you there is someone that they go to and “dump on”) and explain your issues to them. I am sure they are aware of the situation and maybe, just maybe, they can provide some insight into what is going on. It’s also possible that they may have suggestions on how to be more effective in dealing with the Bully.
- Leave. I know in this day and age with the proliferation of companies laying off workers and cutting back on expenses, this is not what you probably want to hear. But sometimes, it’s just not worth the stress, headaches and pressure of putting up with the abuse. Depending on the age of the Bully, it is highly unlikely that they will change. It’s also very likely that they know what they are doing and either get a “kick” out of being abusive, think everyone is out to “get them” so they are justified in being a Bully or they can’t help themselves. In this case, psychological help is definitely recommended.
- Pray. I know, this is not a politically correct word to use in the workplace but it is always the best advice that you will ever get. Positive prayer will help you to understand that sometimes life is out of your hands and being controlled by someone greater than you. Acceptance of this concept will assist you in learning how to cope and deal with issues in the worst circumstances. I did not say that prayer will take the situation away, but it will help you to survive. Sometimes God is simply saying “wait”. We have to remember that our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways. It is not up to us to understand, only to accept that He is in control.
So, where does the concept of “Bullying the Bully” come in? In reality, it doesn’t. You can’t stoop to their level and still feel good about yourself. You can only adjust your attitude and refuse to participate in their chaos. Life goes on and how you respond will affect others as well as yourself. So, Bully the Bully by covering him with prayer and let Someone greater than you deal with them.