You would have thought that after leaving school, being a victim of bullying would be a thing of the past. However, you’d be surprised when you step out into the world of work that it continues to happen in a workplace too. You may have got away with dealing with it in a certain way when you were at school, but in a workplace, it needs to be dealt with in a completely different way or you could face serious consequences. If you’re a victim of bullying and are unsure how to deal with it, here are a few practical ways you can deal with it.
What is classed as workplace bullying?
Bullying can come in all different forms and shapes. It can also be constituted by anyone within your workplace, whether it’s from a colleague or a member of management. It can literally be from anyone in the business you work at. The forms in which bullying can take place are in the following ways:
- Being threatened or blackmailed
- Starting rumours about certain individuals
- Insulting and making demeaning comments
- Victimising individuals
- Sexual harassment
- Unwarranted criticism
- Preventing someone’s development
- Unnecessary overwork or performing pointless tasks
Remember that forms of bullying don’t necessarily have to be through face-to-face communication. It can also be done through phone, email, texting, messaging or any other form of communication. Regardless of how it’s done, it’s still a serious offence.
How do I know if I’m being bullied?
Accusing someone of bullying can be regarded as serious, so it’s therefore important to clarify that you’re definitely being bullied. If you’re being asked to stay behind to do extra work because there’s a deadline to be met in a short space of time, this wouldn’t necessarily be classed as bullying if you’ve been advised to do so in a professional manner.
In order to accuse someone of bullying, there needs to be a very clear indication that bullying is actually taking place. For the example above, if your job is target based or has strict deadlines then it would be understandable you’d be instructed to put in more work. Also, bullying tends to happen over the course of time. Determine whether what’s happening is a repetitive incident or just a one-off situation.
What are the effects of bullying?
Bullying can be extremely harmful to an individual, both on a professional and personal level, so it’s worth considering the consequences on someone.
The obvious case is that an individual will become less motivated at work, but it can also lead to many other things. Lack of confidence, stress, anxiety and negative effects on self-esteem. Long periods of bullying tend to put people on edge, making it hard for them to concentrate on their day-to-day tasks and being unable to work efficiently.
It can also have an effect on someone individually. They can develop health issues like depression, insomnia and mental illness, which down the line can lead to absences from work. This can have an impact on the wider business as their resources become limited from regular requests to be off work. Essentially, it can be extremely damaging to someone’s career.
How can I help the situation?
Confront the bully
Don’t do this in an aggressive way, as it won’t help the situation. Try to approach the bully and have a mature and civilised conversation about what’s happening and the reasons why. Explain to them how it’s making you feel, and they may come to the realisation that it’s become more serious than just a joke. If you feel that you can’t do it alone, ask a colleague whether they can come over with you.
Talk to Human Resources
If you’re unable to get through to the bully by going to them directly, there should be support officers in your place of work who are there to help employers with a specific situation like this. Explain to them how it’s making you feel and the effect it’s having on your work. Speaking to someone about it can be beneficial as it could not only help potentially resolve the matter quicker, but the chat can also be comforting for you.
If you feel that everything you’re trying to do is not working, there are options available to seek formal help from elsewhere. Employment solicitors can be helpful in such a situation, as they look to provide advice on workplace situations. Seeking formal help can be risky though as it can intensify the situation. Just use it as the last resort.
If you feel you are or know someone who is a victim of bullying, it’s important not to ignore it. Speaking up and talking to the right people will help prevent you and those around you from keeping things closed up and suffering in silence.