Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bullies in the Workplace - Guide for Employees

Dealing with Bullies in the Workplace - A Guide for Employed Lawyers

Bullying colleagues and employers can be an absolute nightmare for lawyers. The legal profession is rife with them, particularly as the pressure to achieve targets and billing levels gets higher and higher in difficult economic circumstances. One of the major issues we deal with from candidates and career coaching clients is how to handle bullying colleagues and employers:

Bullying is about power and control and the results can be absolutely devastating. At worst the target will eventually leave to work somewhere less unpleasant; at best they will stay; grit their teeth and get more and more miserable, and less and less productive.

It is estimated that workplace bullying affects 1 in 4 people at some point in their career.
Bullying is about actions that are deliberate, debilitating and repeated. The target will be bullied until they either leave the organization or is totally subjugated. And then the bully will find their next target.

Rule No 1 - never, ever confront a bully. Not in private and not in public.They have been playing their game for a long time; they are skilled at it. All confronting them will achieve, is to actually make your situation even worse.
Try never to be alone with them...
Keep notes – find a quiet place after an incident and jot down the key points of what just happened – what was said, what was threatened and what you said and did in response. This will also help you to calm your nerves.
Let someone know what is happening. Do be very careful who you choose to confide in – telling the wrong person can risk them letting the bully know you are making complaints, and then Rule No 1 comes back into play again with even greater force.
Start planning your exit – whether that is to another department or to another organization, it really doesn’t matter – the longer you stay the more stressed you will become and the worse the effects will be on your health and your self-esteem. Remember that bullies do not give up. Once they have selected you as a target, they will continue bullying you until you leave or are totally subjugated.
Be aware that this isn’t YOUR problem. You are not to blame in any way. It is their problem and the problem of the organization for not recognizing what is happening and for not dealing with the situation, because if the person has been with the organization a long time, you can guarantee that you will not be the first person they have done this to.
Laying a complaint about bullying is often one person’s word against another, and if the ‘other’ person is in a management position, the manager seems to be believed more than the employee.
66% of organizations have no bullying protocols
23% of bullies work alone
77% coerce others to bully alongside them
Only about 4% of bullies are ever punished
Women bullies target another woman 87% of the time
Male bullies choose women targets 71% of the time (the source of statistics and some of this article)

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