He belittled her publicly.
He called her out for behavior completely acceptable from others. He refused to allow her to talk to the client in her normal role. He made life miserable for her while he sucked up to his superior.
He was a bully!
Bess (not her real name) had enough. She was tired of crying, tired of feeling inadequate and embarrassed in front of her colleagues.
Ever happen to you?
Here is what Bess did. Maybe this will work for you.
- Tell him to stop. Bullies hate being called on their stuff. Bess responded with warnings to stop via email then face to face. It didn’t stop.
- Complain to an advisor in a neutral role. Bess went to the group advisor who functioned in a human resources capacity. He commiserated then suggested that Bess be careful to protect his “fragile male ego”. Really?
- Take it to the boss. Bess went to the boss who was disappointed in both the bully and the advisor. Fragile male ego? Really? That still happens? The boss investigated then counseled the bully on the appropriate behavior. She assured Bess that she will not tolerate retaliation.
This does not always work. In Bess’s case, the bully did retaliate. He could not let it go. But the boss was watching. There were serious consequences for the bully. Bess still feels stressed but the major problems have stopped. For now.
Bullies can be found in any school, work or social setting. They lurk among us. It is our job to draw a line in the sand and say, “NO MORE”.
Have you ever worked with a bully? What did you do about it? What advice would you give Bess to survive in this difficult situation? We are curious and want to know what you think.