10 Tips That Can Help Women Deal With Bullies at Work

5 years ago

Bullies at the workplace have become a common thing. 66% of working women are being bullied. In addition, men behave abusively more often than women. And among the offenders, 61% are bosses. Bullies affect a person’s perception of self and can lead to serious health problems. Sometimes it’s so hard to stay strong. Especially, when you’re bullied by a boss. But still it’s important to try your best to protect yourself.

Bright Side wants to share with you some tips how to resist the bullies. We hope that this will help you work with pleasure and save your nerves.

1. Stay a woman, and don’t become one of the guys.

When working with men, don’t forget that you are a woman. And try to avoid flirting with co-workers. You’re a colleague and a member of a team, not an object of desire. You’re a beautiful woman and it won’t do without compliments, but it’s better to distinguish between work and personal life.

Feel equal to men without fraternization. They should remember that you’re a woman and they need to comply with certain standards of decency in your presence: they should not swear, should not give you a nickname, and they need to talk and behave respectfully.

2. Document bullying

Write down every bullying incident in detail. Date, time, place, words, and actions. It’s also necessary to document who is near you at the moment and can prove the bullying in the future. Keep all records in a safe place so that no one takes and throws them away.

You can warn the offender about recording your conversation on a voice recorder or camera. This will force them to behave more restrained and think about their words and actions. All this proof and well-kept records can help you to defend your case.

3. Find a companion

Usually, a bully doesn’t behave rude to just one person. You can discuss your situation with those co-workers who you trust and try to find a companion. It’s easier to resist together.
The more people who will report the bullying, the better the result.

Be sure that your companion is a trustworthy person who will support you not only in words, but also stand with you during the whole process. Tell your workmate to collect their evidence of bullying and come up with a plan together for further action.

4. Talk to HR and avoid one-on-one meetings.

Try your best to not be with the bully one-on-one. When you met them in the corridor or any other deserted place, it’s better to not take part in conversation. Under the gaze of others, the abuser will be calmer and more polite. You need a third party to prove your words in the future.

After reaching an agreement with witnesses and collecting all the proof of bullying, you need to report it to the HR director or your supervisor. Make 2 copies — one for yourself, the other for a superior. Tell the whole story of the bullying according to your notes, and let your colleagues prove it. You can send your notes by email to have a proof of your appeal. If this doesn’t help, go to the next point.

5. Study the legislation.

If your supervisor or HR worker can’t help you for various reasons (your bully is their friend, a precious worker, or even a boss) you can refer to the legislative base. Search for information on the same cases and study employment law carefully. Contact the authorities that deal with the rights of workers.

You can visit a lawyer with all collected evidence. Ask your superior to provide you with a written or electronic version of the refusal to solve your problem. You need to try to formalize all your statements and appeals officially, so that later you can use them in court.

6. Ruin the bully’s plan

The bully wants to cause you negative emotions and assert themselves at your expense. They will be happy to bring you to tears and make you nervous. But you might be able to surprise them. Try to ignore the abuser and stay calm. It will be puzzling and make bullying boring. Here are several techniques which can help you.

  • The most obvious and easiest way is to try to leave the space in which the abuser is located. Create as much distance between you and them as possible. Behave like you don’t see them.
  • To calm down you can go through the alphabet or count to ten backward in your mind.
  • Imagine a wall between you and the bully. Visualize how their offensive and rude words bounce off this wall without touching you.
  • Direct the negativity, obtained from bullying, in a positive direction and distract yourself. Engage in drawing, sports, or music.
  • Stop yourself from using abusive words in response to bullies. It’s better to write them down later if you wish. Don’t go down to the offender’s level.

7. Change your behavior and attitude

Try to change your attitude toward the bullying. If possible, don’t show offense and anger. React to bullies in a cold way and as little as possible. Answer with short one-line phrases with a calm and confident voice, without irritation or disruption. Don’t speak softly, speak loudly and clearly.

Use your body to your advantage. A confident pose, restrained movements, good posture — all these create a positive effect on the offender. Try to occupy as much space as possible to look more impressive. Stand on firm legs, straightening your shoulders, with your chin up. These manipulations will give you a feeling of confidence and power.

8. Be prepared for bullies.

It’s better to think about what you can say to the bully in advance. Speaking from the heart with the first thing that comes to mind is not the best idea. Make your message simple and clear. Remember to use short phrases. Don’t try to retaliate and offend the abuser.

If possible, take what has been said to you with humor and kindness. With the help of a good joke, you can turn bullying into a compliment. It will take the offender off guard. Look into the eyes of the bully confidently and ask them to stop their disrespectful behavior. Be assertive and make your body talk as it’s written in the previous point.

9. Be ready to defend yourself.

Unfortunately, sometimes the bullies are no longer just verbal and become physical. There are many techniques that will help you defend and free yourself. We will list some of them here.

  • Protect your face. Bend your arms, press them tightly against your body, and bring your fists to your face.

  • Push down on the bully’s eyes or the Adam’s apple, or slap them on the ears.

  • Beat the offender as hard as you can. Try to hit their eyes, nose, and knees. While straining your neck, try to break the abuser’s nose with your forehead.

  • You can strike with your knee in the stomach or groin.

  • If you are grabbed from behind, stomp your heel on the bully’s foot. If you have shoes with heels, push the heel into the abuser’s foot as hard as you can.

  • Kick their knees with your legs.

    When you realize that the bully is weak and disoriented, run for help. Shout as loud as possible.

10. Don’t blame yourself.

Being bullied is not your fault. One of the reasons is the desire of the offender to increase their self-esteem. You can try to think why you became a target. And try to take it in a positive way. It doesn’t mean that you’re a weak person. On the contrary, you’re a strong personality that they are trying to break. You have your own opinion and are ready to defend your perspective.

You can try to take the abuse and turn it into a positive by working on yourself. Learn from your mistakes, work on your resilience, assertiveness, and self-confidence. You can make a list of your achievements and strengths and think about them when you hear abusive words. Stay polite, positive, and do your best while working. Your colleagues will appreciate it.

Have you ever been bullied at work? Do you have any other advice for how to deal with bullies? Tell us your story in the comments.

Preview photo credit That's Harassment / Milk


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I find it very helpful, especially the point about finding a friend/help. It's hard to imagine how destructive bully's actions and words could be :(


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