No doubt, it seemed like a good idea at time! You met someone with skills complementary to your own. It seemed like a perfect fit, sharing the same goals, business ethos, enthusiasm for the future. Working together made perfect sense in a ‘let’s pool our resources, share overheads and motivate each other to success’ kind of way.
Then reality starts to set in. You gradually come to realise that (s)he is aggressive, they make it obvious that they think you can’t succeed without them and regard any good ideas as being theirs. At this point you may be tied financially, creatively and even contractually to them.
Let’s identify the initial warning signs. A bully is often self-absorbed; they behave badly, keep their own hours, come and go as they please and often regard good manners as a sign of weakness. Over time their behaviour causes increasing stress and tension in the workplace, which may result in losing excellent staff who’d rather leave a well-paid job than work in an unpleasant environment.
Let’s look at some tips for managing a bullying business partner.
– Start by documenting examples of their behaviour as they occur. Keep a diary log of times when they arrive late or leave early, are rude to staff or behave in an unprofessional or unacceptable way. This way you are able to provide factual evidence of times and dates which support your claims about their bullying behaviour. It may seem petty or trivial practice at the time but it’s important to have evidence which supports your claims.
– Become more assertive. Bullies rely on people being afraid of them. They tend to shout louder and become more aggressive when they realise that their victim is intimidated by them. But when a bully meets their match, meets someone who is not afraid to stand up to them they often back down and become charm personified. Maybe consider hypnotherapy as a way of improving your confidence and self-esteem in order to become more assertive and able to stand your ground. Refuse to be intimidated, learn to speak your mind and become more adept at managing your business partner when he or she behaves badly.
– Take regular breaks. Bullies gradually wear people down by making the atmosphere increasingly stressful and negative. Over time their victims can become jaded, miserable and downtrodden. Start to take a break every ninety minutes or so and go for a walk outside, have a healthy snack, sit in the car for ten minutes and listen to some pleasant music. Detach from the atmosphere and you’ll find that you return to work feeling re-energised and better able to manage the situation.
– Have fun away from work. Make sure that the other areas of your life provide a break which is satisfying and fun. Whether it be exercise, sport, a hobby, family or friends it’s important to ensure that there is an area of your life which provides positive feedback and support.
– Look after yourself. Often a stressful, bullying atmosphere can be hard to switch off from and can be constantly on your mind. It can affect your sleeping and impact on the way you take care of yourself. Remain committed to looking after yourself.
It’s especially important in difficult situations to manage stress, follow a healthy diet, exercise, cut back on caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants and try to sleep regularly. Commit to finishing work and having some quiet time before bed. Maybe go for a swim or a walk, have a shower or a relaxing bath to symbolically wash away the day’s cares.
– Find an ally, someone to talk to who provides reassurance that you are good, capable and going to be fine. Whether it be a friend or partner who will listen to you venting, or someone in a more professional capacity, like a business colleague or therapist, determine to get the support you need at this time.
– Consider a Plan B. What happens if this situation becomes completely unworkable? How long are you prepared to spend in this negative, destructive environment? Drawing up a Plan B can help to clarify your thoughts, reassess your skills and abilities and maybe find alternative ways to earn a living or branch out into something new, happier and more positive. Even if you chose not to implement it straight away, having a Plan B can provide light at the end of the tunnel. It provides the best mental approach for managing your business partner when you discover that he or she is a bully.
Susan Leigh, North West Counsellor & Hypnotherapist, www.lifestyletherapy.net