We have talked about how to identify a workplace bully. Now, how do you handle the bully that you encounter? Bullies, in general, prey on people’s insecurities and emotional nature. The key is to remain calm and portray an air of confidence.
Don’t respond to emotionally criticism or offer explanations
Although this sounds counterproductive, the bully will often make outlandish claims in order to reel you into a fighting match. You don’t want to give them fuel for their fire. Instead of defending yourself in an emotional manner, simply state the facts. “I don’t believe that happened” or “that is not how I recall the events” When your reply emotionally you let the bully know that he/she has gotten to you.
Do ask them to clarify and to speak slowly
The bully depends on being able to throw out accusations at record speed without anyone actually questioning them. When forced to slow down, repeat themselves or offer actual facts, the bully will often feel deflated.
If the bully is really out of line, no one deserves to be harassed. Document the conversations, the way someone looked, what was said, threats made, etc.. All of this will be necessary if you ever have to claim a hostile work environment which will require that you have multiple examples.
If you happen to be in a state that is a single consent recording state, record. It is legal for you to record any verbal exchanges you have with the bully to be used when you make a formal complaint.
Teach People how to Treat you
In other words, don’t teach people that you are someone who will allow unprofessional behavior to occur without consequences. If someone is yelling at you, calmly state “ I am not going to allow you to yell at me. We can continue this conversation when you have been able to calm down” and walk out of the room.
Use your Allies
Everyone in business needs allies. Build them early and spend time reinforcing those bonds. They will serve as a double check that you are not doing anything to instigate this behavior and help provide support the next time the person is out of line.
Unfortunately, bullies are found in all walks of life and at all ages. Educating yourself, in advance, on how to handle a situation before it occurs is one of the best ways to be proactive and ensure that you will look back on the situation, proud of how you handled yourself.