Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour that is far too common in the workplace.
A Psychology Today article refer to workplace bullying as “situations where an employee repeatedly and over a prolonged time period is exposed to harassing behavior from one or more colleagues (including subordinates and leaders) and where the targeted person is unable to defend him-/herself against this systematic mistreatment.” It is a “form of persistent abuse where the exposed employee is submissive to the perpetrator.”
If you have been bullied at work, there are some things you could do.
As hard as it would seem, confide in a friend, your spouse, or a counsellor. Sharing and unloading pent-up angst and anger with someone you know, is a helpful move. With their help and support, you may find the strength and courage to have a face-to-face honest discussion with the person whom you believe is bullying you. This is not an easy thing to do and for many, it will take tremendous courage.
- You want to be calm, confident, respectful and professional. Do not try to change them, because you can’t.
- As it is quite likely that you are not the only one who is bullied by this individual, do not make it personal.
- Do not stoop to the bully’s level of behavior.
- Tell him or her, calmly and respectfully, how you feel as a result of their actions or words.
Do your job well, and find personal and professional satisfaction in meeting your work objectives. Find activities outside of work that inspires and motivates you, whether it is a sport, a hobby, church-related, or family-oriented activities.
You could involve yourself in activities with co-workers with whom you get along, and work on meaningful projects with them. These co-workers become a part of your support network.
If the bullying persists or gets worse, speak with your human resource department, or your union representative. Record all bullying incidents that have occurred. Be clear and be specific about the actual incident, the location, and the date and time when they occurred. Be sure to include the names of witnesses. Include how the incident made you feel, how it affected your work, and if you needed professional help after it happened.
If you have been manipulated into acting unjustly or speaking disgracefully against another person, review the role you played in the situation. What is it about yourself that has led you to believe the manipulator? Are you swayed by popular opinion, or have you buckled under peer pressure?
Ask yourself how you might feel if you were the targeted person. Then ask yourself what you might do differently next time. Stand up for yourself, and take responsibility. The workplace is intended to be a respectful and productive environment. How are you contributing to this respectful and productive environment?
If the situation is not something you could tolerate any longer, leaving the job is an option, although this may seem like an unfair and difficult decision. There are many factors to consider before taking such a step. For many of us, ensuring a stable income to provide for our family is our primary motivation to remain employed. Workplaces and employers vary greatly from one to the next, however bullies exist at different levels in all organizations.
Impact of Bullying in the Workplace on Mental Health
Ask yourself, what is the impact of bullying on your mental health? What is your level of tolerance, and are you able to manage the stressful situation at work? Should you remove yourself from an unhealthy environment and work elsewhere?
There are many more questions to work through. A professional such as a counsellor can help you identify your personal goals, and work through options that are based on your values and priorities. They will also help you work out an achievable personal plan that is both meaningful and rewarding.
A counsellor can also help you build up your resilience, and give you tips on how to manage your anxiety. Additionally, they will teach you relaxation and stress management strategies to calm your mind and body.
In the meantime, know that you are not at fault. No one deserves to be treated disrespectfully, nor be subjected to harassment and humiliation at work. Be strong, and remember, do not stoop to the level of the bully.
Call us at 604-484-2737 if you wish to speak with a professional about any of these issues.