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Having been in the legal field for a while and  having seen a lot of people struggle with how to professionally or if not professionally, how to generally deal with bullying, harassment and or abuse. I want to offer some help in this area.

Standing UP for yourself

Standing up is hard as it can be a lonely place to be, you feel alone and it can be fearful.  To make matters more complex, you are aware that confrontational people do not like to be confronted back.  They like their victims docile, quiet and submissive. BUT, that’s not you! they may have got the impression that you were docile and submissive! which is far from reality.

So, if you fear backlash, there is no need, you’re safe and will be fine if you follow this model.

Stand up for what you truly believe in.  Being assertive does not mean you need to shout back, hurl abuse or intimidate others physically, you can do the same in writing! pen is a mighty sword, I tell you that!  When others hurl abuse or undermine your authority (sovereignty), then clashes and disputes occur.

Disputes aren’t a bad thing in itself, it’s how you approach and deal with it that counts.  So, if others hurl abuse, intimidate and undermine you, you must respond to their criticisms.  However, it’s in the way you respond that will make all the difference, if you respond assertively in a calm, gentle manner including your rights, laws, legislation, and policies – you win!

Complete forgiveness_01(1)

Well, this is if the situations permit you, if someone is threatening bodily harm, this approach may not be appropriate of course, but in most non-threatening confrontations, it is the assertive but firm one that wins.   Making the point calmly when someone is in a physically confrontational place is not ideal when you’re trying to be calm, even though the other may be hurling insult! it can be tough. So, remember this, the insults are not being hurled at you or about you.

STEP ONE – Remain Calm. If it’s physical confrontation, move away from the situation and then later think of how to teach responsibility to the perpetrator.

So, Remember. 

  • The insult being hurled is about the person (not about you) if you’ve done nothing wrong.

  • The insult is about themselves, what they say is what they feel about themselves

  • Stay calm

  • Reply calmly (if possible)

Step 2

  • If you can’t think of what to say – try this – “do not talk to me in this manner or you’re crossing the line, you’re bullying, harassing or abusing me”.  Or please stop right here, you have no right to speak to me in this manner” and then walk away.

Step 3

  • Take some space, think about what to do next, BUT you MUST ACT!
  • Do not make excuses for the person i.e they weren’t feeling well, they are usually good to me, it’s a one off, i’ll let it go, if it happens again, I will take action”

  • Do not have defeating self talks
  • It’s NOT your fault to deserve this
  • Do not be scared

Step 4

  • Write the event down or write to your superior straight away, telling them what had happened.
  • It is your chance to stand out, make an impact and be respected – so do it with facts, not emotional rants, but hard facts, how you felt, how you perceived the situation, how you were made to feel.

This is:

  • Your chance to voice your opinion, your judgement about your perception of what happened.

  • Your opportunity to stand up for yourself

  • Your chance to make changes, in a positive way

  • It’s a teaching moment – for others to also take note
  • You did not do anything wrong
  • Try not to blame anyone outside of the confrontation ( people involved) if it’s not their fault

  • For your rights to be respected

  • To be transparent

  • To be assertive and lead in this matter

  • Try to be professional – if in a professional environment.

Remember :

  • They are probably professional abusers, liars, manipulators, perpetrators, controllers

  • They love and want to maintain control over others

  • They are authoritative and do not like to be questioned
  • When they say, “the team does it this way, this that and the other” it means they want it this way, not the team!
  • They want you to submit and not question their authority or decisions.

So – Further Steps to take:

  • Tell them you don’t appreciate the abuse

  • Write about the allegations/abuse that took place – Make all your valid points in your response. Writing it down may be the best thing to do.  Include policies, legislation and guidelines if you can, all workplaces have policies and obligation to legislation

  • Ask for help if you need to, from a colleague or someone who can help or follow this guidance – in general

  • Give evidence of what happened (if there was someone present include their names)

  • Go to your boss and make a complaint about what happened.

  • Follow internal policies, look for grievance procedures and other such procedures and include them in your writing

  • If it’s a private individual, well, keep safe and keep a distance if you feel it’s going to be physical, but if not, then stay calm, speak when you’re calm and make your point back.

Some breaches that may have taken place:  Use these terms

  • Abuse

  • Insult

  • Intimidation

  • Degradation

  • Bullying

  • Harassment

  • Finger-pointing

  • Singling- out (victimisation)

  • Discrimination of all kinds – Sexism, ageism, racism, based on faith, religion, disability, sexual orientation etc

  • Subtly putting you down

  • Verbal abuse

  • Mental abuse

  • Psychological abuse

  • Physical abuse
  • Making you feel small, diminishing you to make themselves feel great
  • Telling you, this is not how it’s done, everyone is different and creative in their own way – putting you down for it
  • Financial abuse – are all against internal policies and there are laws against it too

  • Questioning your professional judgement (do they have powers to do that? are they also making professional judgements? Are they your boss? Do they have the right?)

  • Smearing your character/reputation ( Slander/defamation) in emails, such as copying others in communications that has nothing to do with the dispute in an effort to slander, defame or smear you ( this is also breach of  technological communications policies and legislations)

Then – 

  • Ask for relevant policies that they are following, what made them single you out, point to you etc … ask them to provide this policy.

  • Ask them to provide evidence what policy are they following?

  • Ask for evidence of their claims or abuse claimed

  • Make clear points

  • Ask them to cease and desist if necessary – use these words ” I am asking you to cease and desist, because you’re breaching my employment rights at work, many other policies and legislation – which are unlawful acts in law.

  • Ask your superiors to get involved

  • If it carries on, take it further

  • Follow internal grievance procedures

  • or get mediation (if it will help)

Whatever you do, do not keep quiet, do something as this will teach bullies to be quiet and beware of how they speak to you and others.  There are many, many laws that protect you, a lot of people are scared of speaking up – if only we all spoke up!

Justice will be done, remain transparent and you cannot lose.  This is a general guide and there could be other steps as well, but mainly these are what will work with bullies.

Justice has been done in your favour – Already! just get the ball rolling.

To your success and may your boundaries always be protected.

Kiran G

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