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March 04, 2008

Workplace Issues- Dealing with bullies at work

Hello Readers,

A few weeks ago, the characteristics of a bully in the workplace was discussed. They included such things as:

Shouting and Swearing
Instantaneous rages over trivial matters
Punishments dispensed out of the blue
Ignoring other people's ...

... points of view
Personal insults and name-calling
Persistent criticism
Persistently setting unrealistic deadlines
Spreading malicious rumours
Constantly moving goal posts and withholding information
Ostracising, Ignoring, excluding and freezing people out
Making threats
Removing responsibility
Allocating menial tasks

So what can you do if you are the victim of a bully in the workplace?

The first thing to do is to look into your grievance policy at work. It may guide you in who to talk to about your problems.

If your company doesn't have a grievance policy, try talking to someone you feel comfortable with to get their opinion about the situation. Are the problems just in your head or have they recognized questionable behaviour from your boss?

It would also be a good idea to keep a journal about the problems. Take note of what happened, when it happened, what was said, who was present, and what the result was.

I would recommend waiting a while to see if the situation changes, but if it doesn't, then, in my opinion, you have three options:
1. do nothing and live with it
2. report the problem
3. quit

As far as dealing with the bully, here are a few key points:
* stay professional
* try not to react to the bully negatively by, e.g., not doing your work (this will only look badly on you)
* if you do decide to report the problem, keep your examples work-related

Have you ever been bullied by your boss or another co-worker? What did you do?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*Looking for more articles that focus on workplace issues specific to ESL? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, and a Material Development Manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is an Editor for Garnet Publishing in Reading, England. Carol holds a BA in Communications from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, and a CELTA, and has just finished her MA TESOL course at Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at March 4, 2008 07:39 AM

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I believe that the problem comes down to a question of power. If you really need the job (and I saw this happen in Britain), then some people will put up with anything. If you don't, then you won't.

Because I am well-qualified, experienced, successful and fairly rich (yes, I know this sounds smug, but these advantages are all important), I tell my employer what my terms of employment are. If the employer does not like them, they do not have to employ me.

I have never been out of a job since I began TEFL teaching six years ago. It is still very much a seller's market and I think that properly qualified teachers (competent as well as qualified), should take pride in and refuse to accept insults to their professional status.

Curiously, most of the employers for whom I have worked welcome my statement of terms, perhaps because they understand that I am serious about what I do and they understand also that if I sign a contract, I stick to it, providing they do so.

As for bullies in the workplace, there are a variety of methods of dealing with them, methods which I would be happy to share with any readers who are experiencing, or have experienced difficulties,

Jeff Hall.

Posted by: Jeff Hall at March 26, 2008 01:55 PM

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