Oh yes, the much-anticipated sequel to our first dour dive into the charming world of adult-on-adult bullying. Strap yourself in for some more home truths about how the working day is now sodden with torment and the reasons (as if you needed any) on why being a bully just isn’t alright.
Bullies often work with the institutions they are a part of and systemically create scenarios where they can get away with the sort of behaviour which should see them sacked. This is less easy outside of the workplace, and yet bullying is as prevalent outside of offices as in them.
Networking events exist so companies can send their employees to grow their business. In a sense, these events are also opportunities for people to sell themselves in a relaxed atmosphere. This sense of competitiveness also breeds feelings of inadequacy, naturally. Bullies are typically insecure people and as such an environment such as this can make them even spikier and they’ll often go out of their way to make you feel uncomfortable. With networking, the idea is to earn you some allies so with the wrong mindset these events can be pernicious, especially if they recur with the same groups of people. Alliances formed can be weaponised by bullies to make others feel small and that shouldn’t be the case at events which are supposed to encourage professional friendships.
These are more intra-work related as companies use these to boosts morale and team spirit. Like networking these events are meant to be helpful and oil up the work machine through socialising. Bullying can infect any scenario but in fact the relaxation of professional courtesies can mask bullying as friendly ribbing or playful banter. The truth is if you feel a certain way no one gets to tell you that those feelings are invalid, so step up and make your feelings known. It is better to nip it in the bud and around other people who are your colleagues and hopefully your friends; this should be a lot easier.
This is a trickier situation to decipher the solution to. Nevertheless, if you’re in a situation and it’s just you and the bully, don’t be afraid to call them out on it. Keep a cool head and make sure everything you say is professional and appropriate so as to not sink to their level. If you think confrontation is only going to fan the flames then maybe thank them for lunch or the coffee and report discreetly to your boss. There should always be someone to escalate the problem to. Companies should have systems in place to deal with bullying and your superior has a duty of care.