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Five Way To Deal With Bullying

HELLO fellow pharmacists and welcome to the sixth article in the 5W2 series.

As you know if you have read any of my previous articles, the 5W2 series is a selection of short articles on strategies and techniques to support our emotional development within our professional roles.

I had intended this sixth article to be Five Ways to manage your State as advertised at the end of the last article, but a pharmacy friend suggested that Five ways to deal with Bullying may be helpful considering the recent articles and Pharmacy in Practice dilemma on Bullying.

In writing this article I have reflected on the following:

  • My experience with clients whose confidence has been affected as a result of bullying in the work place by a line manager or colleagues.

  • The themes in the “Pharmacy in Practice” Dilemma – Bullying in the Workplace.

In writing this article I have assumed the following:

  • Bullies are weak (emotionally, mentally, socially or physically) and it is wrong to take strength from others to compensate for your own weakness.

  • We should never look down on anyone, unless we are helping that person up.

Based on the above here are my Five Ways to deal with Bullying:

  1. Separate your Feelings from the Facts

  2. Walk in the Bully’s shoes

  3. Act as if it doesn't bother you

  4. Confident communication

  5. Phone a friend

1. Separate your Feelings from the Facts


If you feel you are being bullied because of someone’s actions towards you or someone’s communication is just “not right”, try to look at the situation rationally and objectively. To help you do this start to record everything but make sure you separate your feelings from the facts.


Facts of the Situation

  • Where it happened?

  • When it happened?

  • What happened?

  • Who was there at the time?

  • Why you believe it happened?

Feelings of the Situation

  • What you felt physically eg Heart racing, tense, changes in your breathing, changes in your voice, dry mouth.

  • What you felt emotionally eg panic, fear, worry, nervousness, anxiety.

Recording the situation and separating your feelings from the facts will help you to take control of the situation. It will also give you balanced evidence to share with the potential bully and/or share with others that can support you.


2. Walk in the Bully’s shoes


In my last article Five Ways to be more Resilient I described how to use an NLP technique called Re-Framing to observe situations from a different angle to give a different perspective and help things look better. By looking at the situation from the bully’s perspective then you may have a better understanding of what is going on for him/her and how you can deal with the bully more effectively. Here are some assumptions that you may come up with after walking in the bully’s shoes.

  • They are not confident in their role so have to hide that lack of confidence by appearing even stronger than they are.

  • They are being bullied by their boss so they are acting as they are acted upon.

  • They are doing the best they can with the resources they have got (ie they don't have the appropriate Leadership skills for the role they are in and have been “promoted to their level of incompetence”).

  • They are so ambitious to achieve success for themselves that they don't see that taking people with them will allow them to be even more successful.

  • They don't have a mentor or role model in their life to help them with their lack of confidence.

  • They are unaware they are a bully.

If you can shift your feelings of fear to feeling sorry for the bully then you will find it easier to deal confidently with them.


3. Act as if it doesn't bother you


As we all know if we show weakness the bully has won and will continue to repeat his/her behaviour. However hard it may be, work on the following:

Act as if you are not phased by their presence

  • Offer them a coffee as soon as they appear.

  • Ask to call them back when they call and say you are dealing with a patient to give yourself a bit of space.

Act as if you were expecting the bullying conversation

  • Ask them if they are into chat about targets.

  • Ask them what they would like to chat about

Act as if you are grateful for their contact

  • Thank them for the visit, phone call, advice, or guidance.

4. Confident communication


One of the easiest ways to deal with bullies is to be one step ahead of them. Here are some examples that may be helpful.

  • Refer to Company/ Organisational Values – Most Companies have Vision Statements, Mission Statements and Values that they share with patients/clients/customers/staff. Get to know these values & statements inside out so that you can quote them when you believe the Bully’s behaviour is not in line with them. If the bully has spoken to you in a way that is not appropriate in front of a patient or member of staff and the organisation has a value that is linked to RESPECT, then ask to speak to the bully in private and mention that you are aware that one of the organisational values is RESPECT but you didn't feel that he/she showed you respect when they said X in front of Y. Share that you are happy to receive feedback so that you can improve patient care, but you felt the way they delivered the most recent feedback did not align with organisational values.

  • Role Model the behaviours you would like the bully to display. Whether it’s communication via spoken word or body language make sure all your communication is confident and is exactly how you would like the bully to communicate with you.

  • Use the Bully’s expertise – Admit you are coping but you are finding some things a little challenging eg stretch targets in the Bullying Dilemma example. Ask the bully if he/she was in your shoes what would they do to deliver the stretch targets?

These are only 3 examples of keeping one step ahead and communicating confidently. These can appear quite challenging to deliver but the more you practise before you face the bully then the more confidently you will communicate.


5. Phone a Friend


As soon as you feel you are being bullied phone a friend you can trust and share your concerns. This together with writing down your feelings and the facts will help you to be in control. If someone is making your life a misery in any organisation tell someone in that organisation – the bully is in the wrong not you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Bullying is such a terrible ordeal, that I hope some of theses ideas prove beneficial in giving strength to the pharmacists out there that need it. The next article in the 5W2 series is Five Ways to manage your State and will be with you soon, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to find out more about anything in this article or has any comments please get in touch via the details below.


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