While male bosses have been the main bullies in workplaces, women are also emerging as threats.

Bullying breeds a toxic work environment that impacts negatively on performance. Some bosses often bully employees who report directly to them. Colleagues sometimes bully each other depending on their perception of the power balance between them.

Bullying could occur in the office, at factory floor or construction work sites. It is expressed through name calling; using abusive language; making innuendos or demeaning an employee in front of others.

Bullies are insecure people who want to elevate their sense of importance to the wrong target. Some hide behind godfathers to discharge uncalled pressure onto fellow employees. Other bullies are employees promoted to supervisory or managerial positions without prerequisite competencies.

If you are a bully victim, steer away from personalizing insults that do not reflect your persona. The bully could be projecting his or her dented ego on the wrong person. The projections may be a mirror image of their dysfunctional home front or unfinished business brought to the workplace.

Understand the character of your boss inside out so that you control the triggers that cause bullying incidences. Master the body language of the boss to avoid rubbing him or her on the sensitive nodes.

According to one psychologist, Eric Berne, a person’s state of mind rotates around behaving like a parent, a child or an adult. Listen to your boss to identify his or her state of mind and prepare an appropriate response.

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When the boss wears the parental hat, your arguments could fuel more bullying fire than if they assume an adult role. The moment the boss behaves like a child, ignore his or her bullying as that of a of trying to keep busy.

Even Jesus taught His followers “ to turn the other cheek” or “go for an extra mile”. Depending on the issue at hand you can surrender, not as a weakling but a wise person who sees beyond the present situation.

For those working in organizations where bullying is captured in the HR manual, invoke the relevant provisions to be protected from the bully. Since the current labour laws have a soft spot for employees, the boss will think twice before showing you the door.

Organizations can introduce a ‘List of Shame’ for managers or bosses that engage in bullying and other forms of harassment.

In case you are a union member, call upon your union to intervene and resolve the bullying conflict. The union is a handy third party with valuable experience on such a labour relations matter.

At personal level become assertive and not aggressive for the former will give you an edge to confront your boss with tact. Remind the boss of your rights and obligations as an employee that must be recognized at the workplace.

Organizations that conduct 360-degree performance evaluation exercises usually provide employees with an opportunity to rate their supervisors or managers. Employees also point out improvement areas for staff in the upper echelon of management. If you are working in such an organization, offer your feedback to your boss for formal discussions.

Some organizations in South East Asia have human-like dummies of managers in the basement which employees punch to vent out anger. The dummies that becomes thoroughly disfigured indicate that the represented managers are very poor in human relations. Instead of this extreme approach, management should strive to create a friendly working environment to stem bullying.

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For organizations that conduct annual employee satisfaction surveys, employees use the chance to inform management on areas to pull up its socks. If bullying is one of the areas, employees would look forward for decisive action plans to tame the irritant.

Organizations that are committed to detoxifying their work environment can introduce a ‘List of Shame’ for managers or bosses that engage in bullying and other forms of harassment. If a manager or supervisor features on the list for the third time, he or she should be a candidate for a performance improvement program.

The days of bullies are numbered as victims can initiate disciplinary procedures against offending managers.



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