How to deal with being bullied at work
Bullying comes in all forms and it doesn’t just involve just children.
Bullying in any form is not acceptable.
The most important thing to remember if you feel you are being bullied, you have done nothing wrong.
When a bully tries to make you feel bad, the problem lies with the bully, not you. This is really important. No matter how many times you are bullied, the bully is the weaker person in the situation, not you.
A bully looks for power and control over others. It is a severe lack of something in that person’s life that makes them behave badly towards others.
Key things to look for:
- Being ignored: in the workplace or given the silent treatment by a co-worker or co-workers
- Being mistreated: by a co-worker, supervisor or manager
- Taking credit: someone else trying to take credit for your work
- Dismissing/belittling you: or your efforts in front of others
- Making fun: of you in front of others
- Starting rumours: about you or involving you
- Practical jokes: on you in front of others
- Humiliation: any attempt to humiliate you in front of others
- Undermining: you in any way
- The bully may feel threatened by you in terms of your skills and abilities at work
- The bully could be jealous of your home life (if you give them that much information about you)
- The bully may feel threatened by you if you are a sociable person and they are not
- The bully may feel threatened that your career is progressing whilst theirs is stagnant
- The bully could be jealous of good things that are happening around you
Situations where bullying can occur
Employees higher up in the company hierarchy may bully those under them by placing unreasonable demands on their staff, don’t listen, are unapproachable and create divisions between teams. They get HR to deal with any staff issues (and at times HR are not trained effectively to deal with it) and if the issue is directly associated with management, HR is tread carefully when trying to deal with it.
An employee may be going through a homelife, health or financial situation which may be causing absenteeism. Their co-workers/line managers may feel that the person is not “pulling their weight” or “getting away with it” so they use certain tactics towards that person.
Positive employees tend to get the best attention from their employers. Co-workers with more negative personalities tend to get less attention. This can cause friction and trigger bullying.
When new management take over businesses, this can result in workplace bullying with co-workers vying for positions.
When redundancies are announced, this too can cause workplace bullying as workers across the business may fear that they will be made redundant. This can cause employees to gather in areas to discuss their concerns with co-workers and at times discuss each other with other co-workers negatively in order to save themselves.
Lazier employees tend to single out hard-working employees as they make them look bad.
If you feel you are being bullied, follow these steps:
- Whenever you suspect you are being bullied, you should email yourself documenting the behaviour so that you have a clear and concise record of each event including who was present at each occurrence. By sending yourself an email, it “locks in” the date and time of every incident.
- You can also use a dictaphone to keep exact notes or place your mobile phone on recording mode whenever you have an interaction with the person bullying you or whenever you report the bullying to a line manager.
- If at any time you feel you are burning out, speak to someone. If you need counselling, click here.
- If you suspect you are being bullied, don’t give the bully too much information about yourself.
- Separate yourself from the bully and try to avoid them wherever possible.
- If safe to do so, talk to the bully and calmly and firming advise them that their behaviour is unacceptable.
- If the problem persists tell someone about the problem (preferably your line manager). You may feel that this could make matters worse, but if you allow the bullying to continue, it WILL get worse.
- Your line manager should offer you a few options:
- Sit down and talk it through
- Offer guidance on your company’s grievance procedure.
- If you decide to not go through the company’s grievance procedure and the bullying continues, report it again escalating it through the company’s grievance procedure.
- If you are unhappy with the outcome, escalate it to the most senior person at the company (CEO, Managing Director).
- If you remain unhappy, then leave. If the company does not recognise its failings, you are much better off elsewhere.
- If you have been made redundant following any issues at work and you want to appeal it, click here.
- If you decide to take your employer to a tribunal, click here.