Bullying, Gossiping And Verbal Abuse

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bully coworker:

I work with two other ladies, who are extremely kind and one man, who is very much of a gossiper, verbal abuser, has OCD and is a bully. I have recently caught this man discussing my vacation time with another co-worker in a cynical way. Since then, he has been trying to turn the tables around to make me look like I am doing things wrong in the workplace. Most recently, he told me off for no reason in front of another co-worker. He also gossips like a teenager. How do I handle his rudeness?

Signed, Working With A Bully

Dear Working With A Bully:

Work is difficult enough without a bully coworker. Can you handle his rudeness alone? Possibly, you can arm yourself with unflinching words that coolly and firmly spill out the next time he gossips and/or bullies, such as: “Jason, no more gossip. If you can’t say something positive about others, keep your mouth shut” or “Stop, Jason, only speak about me or to me when you need to get or give information about our work. If you think I’ve done something incorrect, don’t rant or rave, just explain that in a civil tone. You’ll find I listen and cooperate” or ” Jason, let’s meet with our boss. We need time-out for you get you beefs off your chest. Maybe if we could learn what is really bothering you we could work together as a team. There is no place for rudeness in our work area. We’ve got lots to do to do quality work. We need to cooperate, not criticize.”

However, one individual can’t easily change a bully. For example one woman sent a long description of how she had tried to cope with a bully. Among other things she said: “The idea of having to communicate with him is stressful because I know I am going to be subject to a tirade and that is offensive. For over a year, I have diligently tried to communicate with him. When something doesn’t work, I try something else. His attitude towards me seems as if it is a purposeful attempt to be inconsiderate and to make me feel uncomfortable. I do not think it can be contributed to his idea that I am condescending. Again, I cannot call to mind an instance where I have ever treated him or with deliberate disrespect or impertinence. In contrast, I actually go out of my way to be cordial to him to compensate for the discomfort.”

Ideally, your supervisor will engage the three of you women and this one man in conversation about assignments, cutting wasted supplies, time, energy, and pleasing your internal and external customers, in a similar way a coach engages his players in skull sessions. That includes how you communicate with one another. Gossip, demeaning, and bossing one another are not tolerated by a coach and neither should they be by a supervisor. I’ve often advised work groups to hammer out Do and Don’t Communication Rules, such as: Do ask. Don’t tell. Do talk about the job. Don’t talk about one anothers’ faults. Do talk about ways that you might make each others’ jobs more effective and easier. Don’t criticize a coworker in front on others. Do huddle when needed over assignments. Don’t withdraw and play silent.

Get my point? Talk about talk should not be left to times when things go wrong. Talk about talk can prevent misunderstandings, and the fact is that misunderstandings are inevitable when there is not an agreement on how to talk to one another. So I advise you both to assert your self and enlist your supervisor in stopping rudeness and encouraging purposeful communication.

Scan our Archives. There are dozens of Q&As about dealing with troublesome coworkers. For example: · Changing the Bullying Policy http://workplacedoctors.com/wpdocs/qdetail.asp?id=3668 · Workplace Bullying Affecting Me At Home http://workplacedoctors.com/wpdocs/qdetail.asp?id=1694 I’ve written on this topic and you will find other suggestions in The Bully Bulletin: A Newsletter Promoting Change in the Workplace. For example see: Unintentional Bible BulliesBy Bill Gorden http://www.mytoxicboss.com/bulletin_april_may_1.htm Another source is: Bullying in the workplace, a timely reminder 10 November 2010 by Jane Klauber http://www.apbusinesscontacts.com/the_people_bulletin-pb_2/bully.aspx

Please don’t be a victim. You have a voice and you deserve respect. These should provide enough information for you to think through a course of action. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. And that is what you want for your self, coworkers, and that includes the bully.

William Gorden