I have once worked with an office bully. He was the competitive type. We were assigned to the same team and had the same job level. He was quite a talented person. However, he had a twisted way of thinking. He saw everyone on his level as competition. And he didn’t want anyone to be better than or just as good as him. He had the skills and abilities to rise to the top. But it just was not enough for him. He was like a predator in the jungle. He wanted to prove to the office that he was better than his peers.
There was one time where we had to make individual presentations to our manager. There were three of us – me, him, and another colleague. And obviously, he got way too competitive. He tried bringing us down with a barrage of negative comments. He even tried sabotaging our presentation. We even found out that he talked negatively about us to our manager whenever we were not around. It was crazy. My other colleague and I did not expect that the workplace bully or workplace bullying will go this far.
This kind of behavior went on for several months. So, I told myself that I should figure out how to handle it. And today, I’m going to share with you the actions that I took.
First of all, I did not even consider confronting him. It would just be useless. Knowing his personality, confronting him would just aggravate him more. He will never admit that there is something wrong with his behavior. I want to tell you that confrontation is not always the way to go. Sometimes, it will just end up putting you in an even worse situation.
One of the first things I did was to stay objective. Whenever he would give negative comments, I would always try to have an objective reply. I would ask him to be specific and make recommendations on how to make it better. I knew that he was just saying those bad things to put us down. So, whenever he had to be objective, he’s just unable to do so. He would end up just backing off.
The next thing that I did was to focus on building my credibility. He was not my boss, so he can’t really do anything to fire me. All I needed to do was to establish my worth and make it known to the important people in the office. I made sure that my manager and other stakeholders were aware of what my specific contributions were. Eventually, I gained the confidence and trust of the key players in the office. You see, once you have established your value, the workplace bully can’t really succeed at bringing you down.
And lastly, I always made it a point to stay professional. I showed the bully that his attempts were futile. I focused on performing well and establishing a supportive network in the company. Little by little, the situation changed for me. The bully did not change his behavior, but he backed off when he realized that I was in a position that can potentially ruin his reputation in the company. Remember, your goal is not change the bully but to improve the situation for you.