Normally, when someone from our hive reaches out to tell us about something they have found useful or interesting from our blog or podcast, we feature them on a podcast minisode. However, we recently had listener, who has a strong record of high performance and is in a very high-ranking job within their organization, reach out about being bullied at work. We wanted to be able to share their story, but we didn’t want anyone to recognize their voice. Bullies can have a powerful impact on your wellbeing at work and sometimes you have to fly under the radar, even when you’re in a leadership role!
So, for this week, we are doing something a little different. We interviewed this member of our hive and we are sharing their story here. We heard from many of you that our prior post and podcast episode about the impact of being bullied at work resonated with your experiences. Here are some tips from someone who just went through it themselves. While we hope that no one in our hive has to endure being bullied, it happens. Instead of beating yourself up over it, you can find a healthier path forward, as this hive member did.
The First Step is to Admit You’re Being Bullied
Workr Beeing: What did you used to think about the concept of bullying at work, before it happened to you?
Hive Member: I never believed it was an actual situation. If a person mentioned bullying to me, I told them they could overcome it by their reaction to the behavior. I recall a person close to me sharing that there was bullying and I was basically acting like a cheerleader telling the person it could be solved by being nice. Looking back, I wish I was a better listener and more supportive.
Workr Beeing: How did you realize you were being bullied at work? What actions did the bully take that made you feel uncomfortable/upset?
Hive Member: The person would ignore me in one-on-one conversations and in groups would tell people that I never respond. When we were in a group, she would continually say that I did not make sense and tell me that I was wrong. She constantly asked people if they thought I was adding any value and would gossip about my work. I attempted to have one-on-one meetings, including asking her for a collaboration session, inviting her to FaceTime, and scheduling during early AM or late PM to meet her needs. She ignored my request or did not show.
Being Bullied Hurts
Workr Beeing: How did you feel as a result of those actions?
Hive Member: I actually thought it was my fault and I needed to try harder.
Workr Beeing: What was your initial behavioral reaction to your feelings?
Hive Member: I kept ignoring them and I could not understand why I felt myself getting emotional. This is not a normal work response for me. I just kept feeling like a failure.
Workr Beeing: Do you feel that being bullied at work impacted how you felt about working in your job or for the company overall?
Hive Member: Absolutely. It impacted how I worked. I was taking so much time trying to manage that relationship, I was unable to have my normal level of productivity. I did not think it represented the company overall, as it seemed isolated.
There is Hope for a Positive Path Forward
Workr Beeing: What steps did you take to address the bullying? What ended up working best? Why do you think it worked?
Hive Member: I addressed it with my boss and it improved slightly. I did lots of research and listened to your podcast. When you shared the potential emotional impact, it hit home with me and I understood the situation I was in. I changed my behavior to not look for validation and to not overly focus on the behavior. It took much time for me to practice my reaction and response to not internalize.
Workr Beeing: What advice would you give someone who is experiencing bullying at work? What advice would you give leaders of organizations, so that they can identify and handle bullying before it gets out of hand?
Hive Member: Realize that you are not to blame and also you can rise above this. Take a partner and document the behaviors of the bully. Make sure when you communicate the behavior, you have specific items, with facts, not emotion. Leaders – if you see a change in an employee’s behavior or emotional reaction, take time to talk to the employee. Ask the tough question of what or whom is getting in the way of their feeling successful and being able to perform. My guess is that other individuals are impacted. With the right coaching, the bully can change too, or the organization can adapt a new philosophy of identifying it early and stopping the behavior.
Overall, we hope that you enjoyed learning from our hive member’s experiences. Have you had an experience with bullying that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments or reach out to us via email. We’d love to be able to help if we can!