Audio Version (08:20)
Today, I released Episode 3 of my four-part mini-series on ‘Narcissism in the Workplace’. This one is titled, ‘How to Deal with Narcissistic Bullying’.
In the video, I explain:
The Duluth Power and Control Model (Coercive Control)
Why Narcissistic Bullying Can Be Hard to Spot
Can You Change a Narcissist?
Advice for Individuals on Managing Narcissistic Bullying
Advice for Organisations on Managing Narcissistic Bullying
To watch the video, click here.
Taking some of the information from that video and rounding off the other articles I’ve written in the series, I thought it important to share some advice for victims of workplace bullying and narcissistic bullying:
Not all bullies are narcissists but all narcissists are bullies!
How to Deal with Workplace Bullying
1. Keep Detailed Notes & Evidence
Keep diary notes of every interaction with your bully. If you want to make a formal complaint at some point, evidence is crucial. Also, it’s difficult to remember details later down the line, so keep a note of EVERYTHING.
Conversations (in the ‘he said/she said’ format as much as possible)
Evidence, e.g. emails, texts, paperwork
How it made you feel (this is important as you likely forget days/weeks later)
N.B. You may wish to store your evidence outside of the office environment. There may be data protection issues surrounding this. However, I’ve known files to be mysteriously wiped from computers, and hard copy files go missing from locked desk drawers.
2. Tell Someone
Speak to another manager, someone in HR or a union representative – a person whom you trust. I realise this can be extremely difficult. You may think you won’t be believed or that your job will be in jeopardy.
I didn’t speak up when I got bullied, and it’s my biggest regret. My bullying went on for almost two years, but at the time, I didn’t think anyone would believe me, not to mention the fact that I was scared of losing my job. Adding to the mix was the fact I was an HR professional, and then (I’m not sure if it’s true now), there was an unspoken rule not to ‘make waves’ as ‘that stuff has a habit of following you’.
Looking back, there’s a good chance that nothing would have been done about my abuser(s), but burying my head in the sand and hoping it would stop further fuelled the bad behaviour and severely affected my physical and mental well-being.
Now, I believe it’s better to stand up for yourself and deal with things quickly. I teach my clients to do the same. In such circumstances, you may not get the result you’d hoped, but at least you won’t be living in limbo waiting for the proverbial hammer to drop. Taking control of what you can in situations such as these is critical to your well-being.
3. Speak to ACAS
ACAS is a free government-run service in the UK. If you have trouble at work, you can call them free of charge for advice and guidance on various topics. They are great at giving impartial advice. However, you must tell them the truth and miss nothing out.
They can only help you if you’re honest with them – often, people will withhold one thing they are embarrassed about that completely changes the advice that the advisor would have given had they known about it.
4. Raise a grievance
If you’ve attempted to raise the issue informally and you’re unhappy with the response, every employee has the right to raise a grievance in the UK. There are strict legal guidelines around the process, and you will need evidence – facts, dates, witnesses, etc.
Your company will likely have their own grievance procedure, which you are entitled to a copy of. If they don’t, or even if you want some more information on the legal aspects of grievances, visit the ACAS website here.
5. Leave (sooner rather than later)
If you’ve gone through the grievance process and don’t get a satisfactory outcome, or you have exhausted other options, it’s time to leave. Sometimes, you just have to know when to quit and cut your losses.
If you’re dealing with a boss or colleague with an antisocial personality disorder, their behaviour will NEVER change; undoubtedly, it will only get worse (narcissists cannot change). Leaving will likely be THE best thing you could ever do for your physical and mental health.
For anyone who hasn’t gone through the traumatic experience of bullying, they may tell you to stay and fight, ‘Why should you leave? Don’t let them win’. However, the psychological and physical damage caused by staying in a bullying environment can last for many years, and there is no job on Earth that is worth that.
6. Set boundaries
If you don’t want to leave, then it’s crucial to set strong boundaries. Here are some possible comebacks for protecting the four main boundary areas:
Emotional boundaries to protect your emotional well-being:
I’m not comfortable talking about my appearance
I prefer not to talk about my relationships
I’d rather we didn’t talk poorly about others
Time Boundaries to protect the use and misuse of your time:
I can come, but I can’t stay long.
I’m going to do ‘this’ first, and then I’ll join you.
My working hours are X to X, I will look at that piece of work tomorrow/next week.
Mental Boundaries to protect your thoughts and value system:
You have the right to your opinion; I have the right to mine
You don’t have to agree with me, but please speak to me in a respectful way
I don’t like it when you ….
Physical Boundaries to protect your personal space:
Please don’t sit so close to me.
Please don’t touch me.
I’d prefer it if we met over Zoom/Teams.
It’s never too late to set new boundaries. However, it is vital to remember that when we do (particularly where we haven’t set them previously), the people who have the most to lose will be the most upset. Abusers will see your enforcement of boundaries as a loss of control, and if there’s one thing that abusers hate, it’s that.
Once you lay down your boundaries, you must stick to them religiously, be consistent and be ready to have them tested.
Again, to watch the extended version of this article, click here. It is the third episode of my ‘Narcissism in the Workplace’ series.
In the first episode, I covered:
What Drives a Narcissist?
What are the Traits of a Narcissist?
Types of Narcissist
Who are the Victims of a Narcissist?
In the second episode, I covered:
The Narcissistic Abuse Cycle, including
In the final episode (Episode 4), I’ll be answering your questions on narcissism and bullying. I’ve had so many questions that I’ve had to split that video into two!
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As always, thanks for your continued support.