Last week I had a conversation with an employer who raised an issue of bullying type behaviours with one of their employees.
The employer told me, that when he raised the behaviours of concern, the employee responded with a denial that they had been using bullying type behaviours and stated “that’s just your subjective opinion.”
The employer went on to say the conversation ended rather awkwardly with no real resolution for anyone, apart from that employee who left feeling pretty good that she had scored a win.
How do you deal with claims that the use of bullying type behaviours are just subjective opinions?
You respond and deal in facts.
What are the facts in this situation that you can raise to counter the subjective argument that you should be point out to the alleged bully. Here are two potential responses.
- “If there is someone in the company who has a problem with your behaviour, then there is a problem we need to address whether you think it is bullying or not.” Unaddressed problems can escalate into greater conflict that draws other employees into a conflict drama spiral. You want a happy, productive and well functioning workplace. If you don’t address the problem, then you may find yourself going from a skirmish to an office based war, making it worse for everyone, including the alleged bully.
- “While you don’t think your behaviour is bullying, we can see that it is having a negative impact on other employees. We have a legislated duty to provide all employees with a safe and healthy workplace. We know that leaving this unresolved creates a risk to health and safety.” The law exists for a reason and using this to reinforce your responsibilities as an employer (and their responsibilities as an employee because they can be fined individually) is another way to counteract the subjective argument. You need to act to mitigate injury risk.
Next time your sitting in a room with a potential bully, don’t let them kerfuffle you into a back down and awkward silence.
Respond with the facts. It is the first step in dealing with difficult, bullying type behaviours.
Do you need to up-skill your managers and employees in the prevention and management of bullying type behaviours?
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