With the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow amongst various senior MPs to have been accused of bullying more junior staff in Parliament, the limelight is finally being shone on workplace bullying. A “culture of fear” exists in many industries, and bullying certainly isn’t confined to school playgrounds.
Shouting at colleagues isn’t acceptable in any working environment, and it’s not something to be taken lightly: being bullied can leave a victim feeling intimidated, terrified and even suffering from PTSD. If you’re being bullied by someone more senior than you at work, it can be hard to know how to deal with it in a way that won’t put your job at risk, but it’s imperative not to suffer in silence and there are ways you can effectively tackle the problem.
Oade believes it’s essential to handle an incident of bullying at the time of the attack. Doing so is of course nerve-wracking, but it can help the target retain control and throw the issue back to the bully, while demonstrating that the target is in charge of how they act under pressure.
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“As soon as a target demonstrates that they are in charge of what they say or do, even in a small way, the evolving bullying dynamic alters in their favour, sometimes sufficiently for that encounter, sometimes sufficiently to stop the bullying completely,” Oade explains. Workplace bullying is about power, and this is how the bullying dynamic is established.
Recognise what the bully is trying to achieve. “A skilled bully uses specific behaviour which they believe will put the target onto the back foot, retain them control of the interaction, and create a bullying dynamic between the two of them,” Oade explains. But you need to realise you have much more influence at the time of an attack than you think.
It’s also important to note that most of what a bully says is untrue. “Most bullying remarks do contain an element of truth but only an element wrapped up in a fabric of lies, slander and deceit,” explains Oade. You don’t need to defend yourself or justify your actions - put the issues back onto the bully and hold them accountable for what they just said.
You may be wondering what Oade means by “put the issues back to the bully.” Essentially, this means countering bullying remarks (which are likely to be inaccurate or slanderous allegations about your work, character or commitment) by taking the spotlight off you and putting it on the bully by asking them to justify what they have said.
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When you live in the comfort of your home country, living around the people you’ve known all your life, you can sometimes be stuck and never really realize it. Moving away showed me just how stuck in life I was and opened my eyes to a bigger picture.
Adapting to a new lifestyle showed me a different side to life. For example, Norwegian life revolves around the cold winters and it was nothing I had ever really experienced before. It took a while to get used to the -20 degree temperatures but experiencing extremes like that and making them part of my everyday life taught me to adapt to something outside of my comfort zone. I will never complain about the cold again – in fact I’ve learned to embrace and make the most of it!
The culture can be very different from your own even if it doesn’t seem like it from the outside. TheNorwegian culture is deep-rooted in nature, its language and its mindset. When I moved to this country full of beautiful fjords, mountains and lakes, with the opportunity to see the amazing Northern Lights whenever I stepped out of my front door, it wasn’t just the sheer natural wonder of the country but the way in which Norwegians embrace it and make it an intrinsic part of their lives.