Bullying In The Workplace

It is sad to think that this takes place but it does and unfortunately many fall victim to the vindictive behaviour of others. Even the strongest of us can still become a victim.

When the subject of bullying comes up I instinctively think, children, school, playground and I still find myself a little shocked when the subject of the bullying is adults in the workplace, but it goes on and at some point in our careers many of us will fall victim to bullying from others.

Bullying can take many different forms, it can be physical, psychological or online, but however it is delivered it is devastating and distressing for the victim, wholly affecting their emotional wellbeing. Victims can be left feeling very low, anxious, depressed - by which point it can start to affect family and home life and leave them unable to carry out the job they were employed to do.

To understand bullying, we must first understand the bully. What is the bully aiming for and what issues do they have – they will usually have some.

In starting the bullying, what is the bully aiming for? Three things stand out:

  1. To affect the balance of power
  2. To destroy the victim
  3. To humiliate the victim

It maybe that you have recently moved into a new position or you have been promoted, the bully who has been there longer doesn’t like the fact that you are in control and will do everything in their power to ensure you are undermined. This will normally be subtle, controlled and sustained.

It could even be something as simple as withholding passwords to accounts that you need to do your job such as the LinkedIn company account, Google Analytics or social media accounts or perhaps they chose to undermine you by continually complaining about the way that you are doing your job, or simply stealing your ideas and claiming them as their own.

Bullying in the workplace is far more likely to be psychological; it is about creating an intimidating, hateful atmosphere for the victim.

So why do people chose to be a bully, what type of person is the workplace bully. In many cases the bully will have issues of their own, they may feel insecure or unsure of their abilities. I am sure you know the type always needing to know what everyone is doing, never able to take ownership of their own work. They have a fear of losing their ‘rank’ and see the victim as a threat. Then there is the manager who is a bully and perhaps just enjoys throwing their weight around, playing at being ‘the boss’.

The problem is that many organisations don’t want to recognise that bullying takes place.

What can you do if you feel you are bullied at work? How to beat the bully.

Keep track of every action when you feel you are being bullied, a pattern will emerge. Document any harassment in detail i.e. date, time, what happened, who was present.

Tell a colleague, do not keep it to yourself.

Seek advice, speak to management or HR.

Confront the bully, tell them that unless the bullying is stopped you will make it official, this maybe sufficient to make them back down.

Read and ensure you know your organisations bullying policy.

When does bullying become harassment?

Although ‘being bullied at work’ is not something that appears on the job description it is not against the law, however harassment is. If you are continually harassed on:

Age, gender, sexuality, marital status, pregnancy, race, religion, your beliefs or disability then under the Equality Act 2010 that is against the law.

Bullying can take many forms, face to face, letter, email, text or phone – don’t be a victim, Time to beat the bully.

This is an article I wrote on Health and Wellbeing in the workplace from the series Managing Your Staff, I hope that you find it useful.