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Merv

Bullying in the Workplace

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Folks

 

Just preparing for a manager who has a proven record for folding like a deck of cards under pressure.

 

The associated behaviour that accompanies this is tantrums and shouting episodes.

 

Not everyone is aware of the approaching incompetence.

 

If subjected to any of this behaviour, the plan is to exit the conversation asap and see support.

 

I have a fair understanding of the topic, just looking for current practices being used and if the apply to all sectors equally

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There is a senior manager in my place notorious for bullying. He's not my manager, nor has any management over me or my teams, but I'm in a position where I can over rule a decision from this manager or his staff, if that decision comes into my scope of work. I once got asked "has he ever bullied you?" because of this oversight. I burst out laughing and replied: "he'd better be bigger, faster and a damned side harder than I am if he wants to try". Yes, I know bullying isn't just physical, but if he even tried raising his voice to me...

 

Anyway, one of my teams gets called in for the Compliance investigation that would follow a complaint of bullying; we'd work with Legal and HR on the investigation.

 

My company is hugely aggressive in the sales area - the most aggressive in our industry. Within the sales side, it would seem that the 'bullying baseline' is extremely high. There are clear displays of what in the majority of companies would be classed as obvious bullying, but nobody blinks an eye. We have a very strict policy, process, and reporting structures for such things, but I feel that the effectiveness of the actions - perhaps I should say the effectiveness of following current practices to reply to your point - are down to the competency and confidence of the HR person engaging in the process.

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I send my most formal, technically correct emails to people who are bullying fools like you describe. Brings out the best passive aggressive in me.

 

I also have recently walked out of a meeting where said person was bullying another team member. He confronted me afterwards and said not to dare do that again. My response was that if you treat anyone like that in my presence, I'll do it again.

 

Managemnet did NOTHING.

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Merv,

 

My advice is to go into any meeting with a firm resolve to remain calm at all costs. If you can, try to have a reliable witness present (use any excuse, "Jane is a excel guru, would you mind her sitting in for this discussion") etc, and have yourself and them document everything as soon as you can post all meetings. Be deliberate in all of your actions and think harder on how they are going to be perceived by the manager in question.

 

Once HR gets involved, their modus operandi will be likely to interview all parties (including witnesses) individually and see where there is co-operation of stories. Unfortunately in He says / He says type scenarios this is the only fair way for them to proceed.

 

Good luck, my previous company had a senior manager that displayed some of the worse bullying ever seen. Despite numerous complaints and 3/4 of the HR team openly telling the HR director and MD he had to go, neither had the balls to even start a conversation with him. Hope the same scenario does not apply there.

 

Tenpints - Sales is usually one of the worse areas for this. Unfortunately most companies will turn a blind eye when results are being exceeded.

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Dig anything up prince ?

oops sorry,

 

treat it like any performance management issue. Part of the role of a manager is to lead by example, coach etc. Bullying is a serious issue and it may just take one disgruntled employee to go to Fair Work.

 

Fair Work actually look after workplace bullying now. it used to be the Anti discrimination commission, but no longer. It is actually better because the employee can not receive compensation this way, but fair work would investigate and ensure you have some things in place, i.e policies etc. They would have to engage a lawyer.

 

if you have any questions let me know

 

so maybe ensure you do have a workplace bullying policy, perhaps if you didnt want to single this perosn out, let everyone know the policy has just been updated and send this to all employees. This will draw a line in the sand, but may not stop the managers behavior.

 

i think the best option really is to have a formal discussion in regards to this manager over his behaviour. Tell him, Managers are paid the money they are paid to set examples as well as the other duties.

 

it may be like throwing a grenade and he may well not take it well, but offer him EAP. So always start the performance management session with a positive, then hit them with the negative, then try and finish on a positive.

 

if you have any questions let me know.

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Ok thanks

 

I'd prefer the bully just to be so angry he'd take a swing at me, so I could get a shot in

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Ok thanks

 

I'd prefer the bully just to be so angry he'd take a swing at me, so I could get a shot in

not sure if you would both go to jail....you might ending up sharing a cell together with a black man called Jamal

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None of this may occur, but i do like to be prepared.

 

Witnesses do tend to be reluctant to participate fear of future repercussions.

 

The formal interview discussion would be in the presence of the bullys manager I presume.

 

Who would initiate EAP ?

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None of this may occur, but i do like to be prepared.

 

Witnesses do tend to be reluctant to participate fear of future repercussions.

 

The formal interview discussion would be in the presence of the bullys manager I presume.

 

Who would initiate EAP ?

 

 

you just offer it. they usually don't take it up, but it just covers you.i would also keep have the bulls manager there. and keep notes.. you have to cover yourself you never now where it will lead to.

 

A short letter detailing expectations in the future is also good, Just stating what is expected of the bully. If you ever need examples, let me know, happy to assist.

Edited by Prince
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Some very good advice here. Bullies don't expect that you won't tolerate their behaviour. In the manager subordinate relationship they don't for one minute forget that they have power through position.

 

Staying clam, pointing out their behaviour to them is a first step. The true nutter will still keep going after a number of repetitions, tell them that you are leaving the meeting.

 

Stay calm, document what happened when where, share with some one you trust if for no other reason than that person can document the impact the bullying had on you. They can' comment on what happened but they can make a statement on how it impacted you.

 

Meet as soon as possible afterwards with the two up manager and or HR

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Bully's just like at school are trying to feel better about themselves. In school it was a bit harder often it was about being overweight, in the closet, things going wrong at home. Or in some cases just being a turd.

 

Office bullies usually try to make up for being thick (some of them know they are some don't). So assuming you don't go to pieces as soon as you get bullied and can stay calm, there are a few tricks even with a passive or worse line management:

 

Know your rights and code of conduct and highlight where they are missing the mark.

 

Have the discussions with the door open where other people can hear you.

 

If you feel at anytime threatened or that the behaviour is not acceptable, tell them so and terminate the meeting for that reason.

 

If they are doing tricky things such as framing unreasonable work expectations, listen let them tire themselves out, then as them some questions, "can you remind me of the objective", when they say things like I didn't say that or my expectation was x, bring out the email or tasking statement they set.

 

Even if you don't have those records (good if you do), the very act of reminding them when and what they directed was x generally will send them into a fit of more outrageous behaviour that a witness or those within earshot can't ignore.

 

Keep documenting, even if your management does not help, you will have a case. Employing some of the tactics above always ends in the true nutter exploding in a group setting where they recognise theyhave gone too far.

 

They are thick so will always follow that pattern and get themselves in trouble

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A person who has the respect of the troops, doesn't have to resort to such tactics.

 

I think it is a far reaching problem in business

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A person who has the respect of the troops, doesn't have to resort to such tactics.

 

I think it is a far reaching problem in business

do you mean the bully or the bully dealing tactics

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Bully

Ah yes, they don't but they also don't care. I've always found that going head to head is what they want so outsmart them and a bit of passive resistance works well.

 

Documenting is your friend with a third party supporting. Even if you can't prove the behaviour you can prove the impact thus your employer will find it harder to ignore the duty of care

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I'm in passive resistance mode with a project manager right now.

Everything goes in an email, and when his ignorance of the project subject matter is exposed, I resort to incredibly formal responses using all the correct technical terms and very proper grammar and language.

Meetings is a different challenge as he likes to have one on one "chats", so I'm starting to send a confirming email of my take on the agreed actions, even when there are none.

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In this situation, make it clear that you are not comfortable meeting one on one. Bullies like the one on one, as the subject has no support and the bully is free to do whatever they want. You don't have to accept the one to one.

 

You do have to accept the meeting, take a third party. Make it clear that you are not comfortable meeting with them alone and state why referring back to your code etc.

 

If the bully still tries to force the one on one without addressing the concern, they are by definition bullying you more.

 

Any decent sized company when confronted with a documented pattern of bullying, WHS etc even if they are toxic will deal with it in a way that gives you some way out. A decent lawyer might help as well, as they can always fire you even if they are in the wrong, it will take a while to get a remedy.

 

Having said that in this type of situation the best way is get a new job some place else. Why would anyone want to work with such a toxic culture

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Don't also be misled that a Manager cannot talk to his team harshly, but he must also give praise when required. i have also defended my company at times because 'the employee lodged a complaint' under stress leave through Workcover because they did not like the way the manager spoke to the, The Manager simply asked one of our employees if he had been drinking as he thought he smell alcohol on his breath. Sounds like the manager shouldn't have done this as it appears to intimidation/ singling out right. The employee also recorded it on his cell phone covertly, the whole conversation. the worker went home stating the manager was referring to him as an alcoholic and he had no right to ask the question. h

 

 

so then i can tell the companies side, the Employee was one of our traffic controllers who at times had to direct busy traffic whilst trucks came tot he site. The Manager was the OH&S site Manager. He was within his rights to do this and the claim was thrown out of course, the unions by the way wanted this manager sacked and that also were able themselves to force another senior foreman to do a anger management course or they wanted him removed from site. This was not the companies decision, they just put down the ultimatum. If the snr foreman lodged a claim under fir work for unfair dismissal they would have easily won the case and received prob 6 mths salary.

 

 

so my point is focus on what constitutes bullying behaviour. I won't go through the definition here and not supporting either side as i do tow the case,but for behaviour to change, it can be tough unless it is clearly defined. A small investigation can also be undertaken by HR on the quiet, pref off site, coffee shop chats, but even maybe upfront and let the manager know there has been a mention of bullying by an employee. HR will look into it further and don't need to really give the name of the person as yet. let them know later. Anyone i ramble as each case is different and there is many ways to achieve that you want to achieve. Keep your end goal in mind,

 

as you mentioned the end goal of the defence force leaders are to keep their fighters safe whilst killing the enemy. Maybe business is simply about getting the 'best' out of your employee, and each place i have worked at is in all different states of maturity /

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Need advice on this issue from HR types.

Young female (24) has been working for a firm in Sydney for about 12mths now, did not get on with first manager (female), shifted Depts and now having problems with 2nd manager also female (which raises the question, is she the problem, not the managers - but from what she tells us about conversations with 2nd manager, I think it might be the manager).

She is a very sensitive, non-confident type, working in marketing and this is pretty much an entry level job so she is paid peanuts.  Even so, she seems to have kicked some pretty impressive goals organising product launch events and even MCing them.  Has got some very positive feedback from the firms clients and has put her hand up to organise/MC upcoming product launches in Brisbane etc.

Has made a few mistakes as most people do (forgot to post some material to a client for a week, left an additional sticker on a box resulting it the mailing centre rejecting it as 'non-compliant').  Manager even threatened talking to HR about that last mistake (which seems like a piddling error to me in the scheme of things)!

Her manager is always hauling her over the coals for these minor things, and being a sensitive type, she often ends up in tears as happened y'day and she walked out & went home. It's got to the point where she does not want to go back in, and is thinking of writing to HR to document it all.

Manager says things like "I know there is some intelligence in there (name) but you need to think about the process the account managers go through and....".  To which she replies (often very emotionally) "but I have no information about what the account managers do to figure out that process. No one has ever explained it to me".  In the next breath the manager will tell her she is doing really well on X, Y and Z.  Despite being shy, she is not averse to stating her position/opinion & I suspect the manager takes this as undermining her authority.

Manager sounds like a micro-manager with no management skills, who is missing the big picture and only finding the small inconsequential errors.  Or maybe she is jealous that this young kid is taking on some big tasks (MCing product launch events) and getting praised by clients for her performance?

And as I've said before, I've found females in the workplace can be complete toxic competitive nutters to each other.

My concern is if she writes to HR, this will go pear shaped fast.  Or maybe it is what is needed as this woman needs a good upper-cut? 

And I'm aware I only have one side of the story, but if the exchanges I'm hearing about are accurate, something seems off here.

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Start documenting everything, no need to send it to HR, but best to get it all down so if things do get to the stage where HR is required, she has it all there.

Secondly, having 2 managers is not going to go over well if push comes to shove.  She really needs to work on the relationship with this manager, but if it is as bad as she is making out at the same time start with an exit strategy. 

I'd be suggesting that she needs to find a good mentor.  Doesn't have to be in the company she works for, or even in her profession.  If there is an industry body in her profession than that would be a good place to start, any good professional body has a formalised mentoring program.  The mentor should be able to catch up on a regular basis over coffee out of the office and be able to help her through the issues, be a sounding board and be able to throw some good but challenging questions back at her with the aim of making her think of how she could have handled things differently.  Failing finding a mentor, hiring a career coach may be another option

 

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34 minutes ago, Cottoneyes said:

Start documenting everything, no need to send it to HR, but best to get it all down so if things do get to the stage where HR is required, she has it all there.

Yup, that was also what I suggested.

I'd be suggesting that she needs to find a good mentor.  Doesn't have to be in the company she works for, or even in her profession.  If there is an industry body in her profession than that would be a good place to start, any good professional body has a formalised mentoring program.  The mentor should be able to catch up on a regular basis over coffee out of the office and be able to help her through the issues, be a sounding board and be able to throw some good but challenging questions back at her with the aim of making her think of how she could have handled things differently.  Failing finding a mentor, hiring a career coach may be another option

That is a great idea.  Maybe a male mentor too?  Just need to think about who.  Maybe her company has an industry body?

 

 

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5 hours ago, ComfortablyNumb said:

Manager says things like "I know there is some intelligence in there (name) but you need to think about the process the account managers go through and....".  To which she replies (often very emotionally) "but I have no information about what the account managers do to figure out that process. No one has ever explained it to me".  In the next breath the manager will tell her she is doing really well on X, Y and Z. 

Could be your standard crap sandwich style feedback - put the bad between 2 slices of good to make it more palatable.

This specific example, I don't reckon the Manager worries about the positive feedback if she really has it in for her.

See if it's possible for the girl to approach the manager again, after the heat is out of the issue:

"Yesterday, you mentioned understanding what the account managers go through, is it possible for me to shadow an account manager for a day to gain a better understanding?"

It might be not be possible, but at least lets the manager know she is willing to work on her perceived limitations.

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Manager also does things like ring her at 10pm at night when she is home is asleep to see if she has posted something to their social media site.  If you are a senior exec on 6 figures, sure you can expect some out of hours calls about important matters.  But when you are entry level on <$50K, WTF esp when the social media post is trivial.

Manager has been all sweetness & light today.  Manager requested a meeting last night for 9am today which employee rejected as she is becoming too anxious about these meetings (but gave Manager a calm non-confrontational reply that she needed to finish some jobs so could not meet in the morning).  Today, Manager came back with an even more sweetness and light email saying she was worried about employee, asking if she was ok and requesting a short 15min meeting at end of day.

If she's even a managers arse-hair, surely she can figure out that her current approach is entirely destroying this kids sense of self-worth and perhaps it might be an idea to back off and treat her differently?  If the kid had cost the company big money, then maybe harsh words are needed, but this is trivial shit and the kid has been smashing the big important stuff?

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After reading all of this I am now thankful that the government department that I work for has a zero tolerance for bullying and sexist behaviours.

Sometimes it can be a good idea to find a new job as the problem can be at both ends. 

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My advice is follow company policy and document everything.  It will give HR solid facts to make their decision.  

I was the bullied by a former boss / section lead for years.  After a year or two of being the victim I decided to fight back. 

I reached out & got a mentor.  I was the victim but I also needed to be recalibrate on a few things. 

I documented every thing this guy was doing.  Every time someone else was in the room.  I spoke to them to see ensure they witnessed his behaviour & then sent a email confirming what had happened. 

4 years on he has been demoted 3 times & I have been promoted 4 times & he is now doing work for me.

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As a HR Manager, I would want to know about it. This has the potential to end up as a work cover claim or a constructive dismissal claim (were the employee feels they have little choice but to resign).  Besides that, this is an unhappy environment for the employee and most likely those who also work there. 

The manager clearly needs some training  or she must 'step up' and modify the way she talks to the employee.

I am sure the employee is not a little angel either and the mistakes may be significant, but she is feeling like she is doing everything wrong at the moment so the manager should be giving some praise as well when its due. I also can't stand to think an employee may be going home after work and feeling bad and dread coming to work the next day. no one should feel like this.

 

so its all fixable and either encourage the employee to contact HR or even better, maybe someone else should. If there is a manager above this lady manager, contact them. Don't be worried about repercussions, because as I say, it can't continue. 

 

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On 19/05/2017 at 4:32 PM, ComfortablyNumb said:

 

If she's even a managers arse-hair, surely she can figure out that her current approach is entirely destroying this kids sense of self-worth and perhaps it might be an idea to back off and treat her differently? 

Maybe that's her plan

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17 minutes ago, Cranky said:

Maybe that's her plan

If so it worked.  She got a new job with their main competitor a few weeks ago, in a role where she really wanted her career to go.

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I have been recently bullied at work.  Indirectly and hard to explain without writing many pages.  Very disappointing and the complete opposite of the organisations core values.  It got to the point where I had to resign.

Edited by BC_J400
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15 minutes ago, BC_J400 said:

I have been recently bullied at work.  Indirectly and hard to explain without writing many pages.  Very disappointing and the complete opposite of the organisations core values.  It got to the point where I had to resign.

I know it can be hard, but did you approach HR? Document the bullying?  seek out your EAP for advice? - I hope you are ok.

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7 hours ago, BC_J400 said:

I have been recently bullied at work.  Indirectly and hard to explain without writing many pages.  Very disappointing and the complete opposite of the organisations core values.  It got to the point where I had to resign.

thats sux. it is very common though. Sounds like you may be better off though, as many organisations rarely change. 

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My wife was asked to apply and was hired at an organisation on a casual basis to help with stores ordering and staffing and other admin duties when required.

After some time, she complained to her boss about the conflicting communication, lack of work and not being given computer logins and appropriate information to perform the duties she was hired to do, plus the attitude, treatment and workplace culture of other staff who would complain about how busy they were, yet reluctant to give her work other than photocopying. 

After complaining, she was not given any shifts at all.

She then complained to HR in writing about her treatment and the culture and bullying amongst staff and management and their reply was that they were sorry about the communication problems and maybe it wasn’t explained at the interview that the job was only a temporary position anyway, but no mention of any effort to improve the workplace culture.

Unfortunately, my wife had resigned from another job to go there on the pretence of a role that was never intended. 

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Seeing some of the bullying that goes on at executive level, little wonder isome organisations will never change.

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I was bullied and sexually harassed in a job in Melbourne back in 1998/9 and it's awful!

Had taken this role where I was the 4th employee in the role in 12 months. Started off great, got along with the woman I worked for and her boss.... or so I thought. The woman I worked for was a brilliant practitioner, but was also bi-polar and on a healthy dose of lithium to cope. The business felt that, after three women in that role, they would use me as the guinea pig to see whether the problem was the person doing the role, or her. Recruitment Agents were taking bets on how long I would last - I put $50 on myself to see out a year - this turned out to be harder than Ironman.

She would self-medicate and the mood swings were unbelievable. I was once accused of bribing a secretary to do some typing for me .... with a Freddo Frog. Eventually, she said that she had lost all trust in me and that they would remove all of my files. I would sit in a room for 8 hours a day, completing timesheets with the entry "ZA" (non-billable Admin) and then they removed my PC so I couldn't read the paper. So, I brought my own laptop and configured it. This happened for months, which is especially damaging as I was only just starting work at this point in my life. Work I was doing for other "managers" was regarded as first rate, but this woman was a nightmare. Tantrums, tears, hissy-fits, mood swings. The Firm put the three of us in our Team in the Lounge and made us sort it out amongst ourselves - what idiots. I still have the memory about the colour pen she used to "correct" my work - work which external consultants regarded as excellent, but not to her standards. 

Then, bizarrely, at Friday night drinks, she tried it on with me and I - immediately - rebuffed her. Then the changes and swings really started. 

The worst thing about it was that if I had a problem with her, I couldn't raise it with her boss as they were also "doing the dance of the beast with two backs" as a bit of an FB thing. He was a borderline alcoholic and I once saw him have an argument with a filing cabinet. The business knew and condoned it. Her Managers complained about her behaviour, but nothing was done. I wrote an 8-page memo detailing the litany of problems - mine and historic, but the HR "Manager" and Office "Manager" were instructed to bury it as they were told she was too good an earner. The memo was "lost", again and again - I had to resort to sending it Recorded Mail to an Office I could see from my Office!!!! It was raised at a Partner's Meeting, but buried, again because of her client base and earnings. I saw a counsellor and was prescribed some medication, but it didn't seem to help. I knew that, if I found another job it would all go away as an unpleasant memory. 

The irony of this was that the business was one of Australia's leading Industrial Relations Law Firms!!!

I lasted a year, collected my $50 from various Recruiters and found another job. I had some "very frank and robust discussions" on the way out of the building, but I also received a lot of support from my peers, to whom I am extremely grateful.

The postscript of this is where it gets interesting, though. The business split and one half of the business went upstairs. This was the profitable side of the business and the remaining part found it hard to stay afloat without merging. The Partner eventually killed himself and my former "manager" found the body. People went to the wake to drink his cellar and she was given the pink slip at the wake and locked out of the Office.

I will go to my grave saying that this behaviour was supported by the Firm in not closing it down. A horrible experience that no one should go through, but nothing changes if nothing changes.

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Bloody hell Rimmer, nightmare!

I have been face-to-face with one boss who tried the bullying thing, he snarled "I'm a black belt at karate" at me - I was an inch away from headbutting the twat, but someone broke us up. Another boss, I did punch out - he wasn't being a bully, just a plain knob, and I'd had enough of him.

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5 hours ago, TenPints said:

Bloody hell Rimmer, nightmare!

I have been face-to-face with one boss who tried the bullying thing, he snarled "I'm a black belt at karate" at me - I was an inch away from headbutting the twat, but someone broke us up. Another boss, I did punch out - he wasn't being a bully, just a plain knob, and I'd had enough of him.

Yeah, it was a pretty low point in my life ... but I got through it. 

A bully is a bully is a bully. You can' reason with them or explain them. You have to suffer them and take a walk if they confront you. They aren't typically scared of confrontation, but jobbing one is the the worst thing as it will reflect on you, not them.

Be the stronger man and walk away from that.

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4 hours ago, Merv said:

Or alternatively allow them to take a swing at you so can act in self defence

Nice thinking and that is the way it should work, but it could also be argued that you provoked or inflamed a situation to engage in it. Best advice is get witnesses and walk away.

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16 hours ago, TenPints said:

Bloody hell Rimmer, nightmare!

I have been face-to-face with one boss who tried the bullying thing, he snarled "I'm a black belt at karate" at me - I was an inch away from headbutting the twat, but someone broke us up. Another boss, I did punch out - he wasn't being a bully, just a plain knob, and I'd had enough of him.

Was his first name Roland? :D

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14 hours ago, Merv said:

Or alternatively allow them to take a swing at you so can act in self defence

Ahhhahh.... did you know that you don't actually have to have them take a swing at you in order to take a swing in self defence :-) ?

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1 hour ago, BC_J400 said:

Ahhhahh.... did you know that you don't actually have to have them take a swing at you in order to take a swing in self defence :-) ?

I get the priviledge of investigating alot of these cases in workplaces, would not recommend taking a swing either way.  If there is video, generally does not have sound so can't tell what was said, becomes he said / he said and the video of the person swinging is pretty damning.  If there is no video, the person with the stiches in the jaw has a bit more physical evidence and again is he said / he said.  Evidence in workplace investigations is on balance of probabilities, not presumption of innocence until proven otherwise

Brush up on meditation and walk away, talk to someone, document the actions asap is the best way to go.  Bullying if allowed to occur usually comes from the top and it generally takes a very large payout and / or bad press for that to change.  Life's too short to work somewhere you don't enjoy, so plan your exit and go and find out life is too short to work somewhere you don't enjoy.  At the end of the day the action you put up with is the action you condone - which goes for behaviour below and above you.  

 

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How about if you accidentally drop a pen at his feet, and in the act of bending over to pick it up, head butt him in the face ?

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