Career Advice Workplace Culture

Ways to deal with Bullying at the Workplace

Unfortunately, for some of us, bullying does not end in school.

Bullying at the workplace, amongst grown adults, is a reality. And this is a reality, which if not handled properly can cause severe difficulties for everyone who is involved. There are many cases of workplace bullying that go unreported or misunderstood, and, as a victim, it can be difficult to know what to do.

Here are a few practical ways to identify if you or anyone whom you know is the victim of bullying at work, and how to handle it.

What is bullying at work?

Bullying at a place where you work comes in various forms and shapes and may be carried out at different levels. It could be from anyone including a supervisor, manager, a co-worker or someone else around the organization. Though this is a comprehensive list, some instances of cases of bullying in the office might include:

  • Rudeness, international embarrassment or insults
  • Spreading rumours
  • Excluding and avoiding people or any form of victimisation
  • Unwarranted professional or personal criticism
  • Threatening
  • Sexual harassment
  • Not giving a promotion or not allowing professional development

It is significant to remember that, just like bullying can come in different forms, it can also be carried in different ways which may not be necessarily restricted to face-to-face communication.

If you are being bullied through e-mail, text message, telephone or any other kind of verbal or written communication, it is also serious.

If you feel that you are being bulled at the workplace, don’t keep shut. Act.

What can be done?

  • Talk to the bully- The first and foremost thing to try is to talk to the person who is bullying you. The person in question may not have realized how badly you have reacted to their conduct and the complaint might not go any further. If you do not feel comfortable in approaching them alone, ask a colleague to accompany you and play the role of a mediator. Though this won’t always be enough to change their behaviour, many work issues can be resolved in an informal way and need not be taken any further.
  • Talk to the right people- If talking to the bully does not do any help, then find the right people to whom you can complain to. Ask to discuss with your line manager or someone from your Human Resources department. Explain how this issue is making you feel uncomfortable or demotivated and at the same time affecting your performance. Discussing the problem with other people will not only mean the problem gets resolved faster, but it can be very comfortable and emotional.
  • Seek formal assistance- If the situation comes where nobody listens, then you can take the matter further by asking for external help. One of the good places to start this is ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). Their main objective is to enhance the working life through improved better employment relationships, and they provide free and impartial guidance on this subject. You can also seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, and several other independent bodies.

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