Limiting Beliefs, Hate Crimes and Office Bullying

Stop workplace bullying road sign
Many of us have been outraged by the recent hate situations in the U.S. It is truly baffling how in this age of awareness, and access to information, people continue to condemn each other based on prejudice and ignorance. So where does this hatred come from? I believe it is from two sources – fear of the unknown and the unhealthy need for power. Both are based on very limiting belief systems.

We like to think these are isolated incidences. However, in the workplace there is often a bully that is allowed to negatively impact others without being held accountable. People regularly tell me about the one individual in their workplace whose behaviour continues to create stress and drama for the other workers. Sometimes this is their boss and sometimes a co-worker. And often they continue their behaviour for years without being held accountable.

For both situations, there is a culture of acceptance – often by default. It may be the manager who turns a blind eye to the bullying. Yes, it’s scary to stand up to a bully. Yet, if you consider the damage that happens when you do not address inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, there are dire consequences on others (and I believe on your bottom-line too). Perhaps it’s creating a mental health challenge for other team members, increased absenteeism and/or staff turnover.

If you are one of those managers who has not been addressing aggressive and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace it’s time to step forward and address it. Here are some steps to help:

  1. Make a list of the behaviours that you have witnessed and that others have shared with you. Stick with behaviour that is specific and observable – and stay away from “attitude” type comments. For example, instead of “being rude” it would be “raised your voice and yelled”.
  2. Start to document current situations with the date, parties involved and what happened. Make notes of the impacts on others in the department. This is to help you recognize the impact and hold yourself accountable to address this pattern.
  3. Speak with your Human Resources person about the situation in depth and create a plan to actively and consistently address it. You might like to ask them to join the meeting with the employee to support the process.
  4. Hire an Executive Coach to assist you in understanding and shifting your behaviour so that you can appropriately address the situation.
  5. Arrange a meeting with the person engaging in bullying behaviours. Share the information with the person in a respectful and clear manner. If possible, use the most recent examples as it is easier for the individual to reflect these situations.
  6. Be prepared to call a brief time-out if either you, or your employee get triggered. Then return to the discussion.
  7. Encourage the person to look at what causes the behaviour in them.
  8. Create a plan to address this behaviour pattern. How might they find new avenues to address situations that arise?
  9. Share a written summary of the conversation including the plan to shift the behaviour pattern.
  10. Set up a time for a follow-up meeting and hold them accountable for their behaviour. Also, help them to acknowledge any progress they make towards shifting this pattern of behaviour – even the small steps – while ensuring that they hold themselves fully accountable.
While it is challenging to address these situations, the long-term consequences of brushing it under the rug far outweigh the benefits of ignoring the situation. It is time to shift those limiting beliefs in yourself and your employees. Shift to a new dynamic of respect.

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