As you’ve likely heard, there’s been some pretty major news regarding Mischa Barton’s departure from hugely popular series The O.C in 2006. Barton has recently alleged that she chose to leave the show because of bullying and changes to pay.
Bullies are notoriously hard to deal with because they don’t act rationally or with respect. However, in a workplace setting you can still take charge of the situation by asking them to explain what their issue is.
As advice site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, workplace bullies are a bit more nuanced than the ones you encountered as a school kid. Rather than using physical violence or calling someone names, workplace bullies are more likely to get into verbal confrontations to push you around.
If things get heated, try asking them to slow down and help you understand:
Again, a totally reasonable and polite request. You’re the rational problem solver. And no accusations are being made…
If they keep yelling and you keep calm, who looks like the one in control? Who looks like the crazy person? Which of these people is leadership material? Exactly. You’re calm and in control. They have to stop yelling or risk looking like an insane person. You’ve done nothing to insult them or fan the flames.
In this case, asking them to explain is more for the benefit of those watching, rather than the bully. If you’re calmly asking them to explain what they’re upset about and try to understand their position, you look more in control.
In some cases, they may even calm down if you sound like you’re listening to their side. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to do what they ask, but hearing them out makes you look more like the calm, collected person that everyone else in the office wants to look up to.
It’s worth pointing out, however, you should never feel obliged to put yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe and always reach out for support if you need it. But this could be an effective way to diffuse a situation that’s making you and others uncomfortable.
In addition to the above, Reach Out has shared a list of tips for dealing with workplace bullying. Here, they discuss options like keeping a private record of events, speaking with HR and if necessary, reporting the behaviour. Check that out here.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.