Its only in Kenya where you graduate from university into employment, and a new wave of workplace bullying re-emerges. What job description? Are you meant to be serving your ‘elders’ tea and running errands? Worry not! you’re not alone and definitely not the last. Or, you start a new job and your personality just doesn’t flow with the people in the office. Your boss is a tool or your coworkers just make life so unbearable. What then do you do?
I understand that it’s not easy, but there are ways to cope:
1. Call it out!
You’re human and have feelings, sitting around quietly can mean many things, either you’re ok with the bullying or you’re simply scared of defending yourself. Bullies regardless feed off your fear of expression, but wait a minute! Won’t expressing myself make the situation worse? it relatively depends on the emotional intelligence of the bully.
Remember, bullies try to keep you down because they see you as a threat, misinterpret for uniqueness and talent. This will not only make them uneasy but possibly get them off your back. Don’t worry about their reaction. Its fulfilling enough knowing that you stood your ground.
2. Set emotional boundaries
Always have that one person or people who ‘got your back’ there’s nothing as important as having people by your side, one you can run to for a booster or just check in to maintain your sanity. You have to acknowledge the bully and be the bigger person, implant this into their stem cells, “I am not here to make friends, but to do my job”.
It’s not easy justifying someone’s behaviour, but you shouldn’t stoop down to their level in a failed attempt to understand them either. You need to separate yourself from that toxicity.
3. Move on
Before you make the decision to move on, weigh the pros and cons of your situation. What political power does this individual have? it could be your boss, an individual with connections or just the simple fact that this person or these people won’t change. Consider talking to Human Resources too, try to find a good solution to the problem at hand without digging a deeper hole. If your performance and overall mental health are affected, you already know what to do. Stress and depression can lead to many health issues and ultimately suicide depending on the level of tolerance. Sometimes, its never that serious but you have to learn from this experience.
There are bullies in all walks of life, leaving your job or letting it affect you mentally and emotionally will not guarantee greener pastures in the next job. You need to grow a tough skin to survive this world and everything that comes with it. Toughen up now!