6 tips for dealing with a workplace bully

A few weeks ago, a friend of my called me quite distraught. Her boss had begun to degrade her all the time, even in front co-workers. She likes her job but she told me she can't life being stressed out at work all the time. When you work for a bully, you can pretty much forgot about work life balance and count on being stressed out at home and the office. Fortunately, there are some ways to cope.

Business etiquette coach Barbara Pachter says you don’t want to become a bully when responding to one, but you do want to get your ideas heard. She suggests following these six suggestions to act in a polite and powerful manner: (more suggestions can be found in her book,
The Power of Positive Confrontation.

 1.  Stand when you can. You don’t want the other person towering over you. It gives that person a psychological edge. Make sure both of you are sitting or standing. And if the other person invades your space, stand your ground.
 2.  Look the person in the eye. Many people look away when they get nervous. By doing so, you are telling the other person you are uncomfortable. Force yourself to look at the person.

 3.  Speak up. You don’t want to scream, but you need to speak loudly enough to be heard.  

 4.  Don’t ask permission to speak.  Discussions need to be two-way. The other person is not in charge of the flow of conversation. Avoid asking, “Is it okay if I give my thoughts?”

 5.  Learn to interrupt. Usually, you don’t want to interrupt someone; but with bullies, if you don’t interrupt, you may never get the opportunity to speak.  

 6.  Give your opinion as a statement, not a question. If you say, “Wouldn’t using vendor x be a conflict of interest for us?”, you are letting the other person make the decision. Instead, use a direct, assertive statement: “I believe using vendor x would be a conflict of interest.”

Have you ever tried any of these approaches with a workplace bully? Are there other approaches that have worked for you?  

The Work/Life Balancing Act

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