Bullying in the Workplace (Part 2): Dealing with bullying at work

Posted in : HR Updates on 16 August 2016
Tanya Kennedy
Purpose Consultancy
Issues covered:

Bullying at work is a much greater problem than people once realised. It’s bad for people and organisations.

Bullying is not about being bossy or the occasional angry outburst about work, it is about persistent, repeated behaviour including criticism, being excluded and ignored, and being overloaded with work.

One of the most challenging aspects of being bullied is that most of the behaviour is covert.  It’s underhand and difficult to confront, especially if your confidence and self-esteem are already undermined by it.  It can creep up on you and wear you down, make you feel belittled and inadequate, and gradually make you lose faith in yourself.  

How can you be sure that you’re being bullied?

The clearest signal is that bullying is something that happens again and again - it's not just your boss or colleague having a bad day every once in a while.

Eleven Tips For Dealing With Being Bullied At Work

  1. Don't get emotional.  Try to stay calm and rational to diffuse the situation.               
  2. Don't blame yourself.  Acknowledge that this is not about you, it's about the bully. Don't lose your confidence, or think you are incapable or incompetent.

  3. Do your best work. The bully's behaviour will seem more justified if you aren't doing your best work, or if little things slip such as coming to work late, taking long lunches etc. 

  4. Build a support network. Instead of allowing the bully to make you retreat, work on building your relationships with your colleagues so that you have support. 

  5. Document everything. Keep a diary of what happened and when so that if you need to escalate this problem to Human Resources, you have the information you need to make your case. Keep emails and notes.

  6. Seek help. If you think you're being bullied, it's time to start talking to others who can help you manage this situation. Try a mentor, advocate or experienced friend.  Talk to your family. 

  7. Get counselling. It will help you deal with the stress, especially if the bullying is already affecting your physical and mental health. You have to take care of yourself.  Use the Carecall services.

  8. Approach your Human Resources Department. Be objective when approaching your Human Resources Department - focus on the outcome that you want to achieve.  A meeting with HR is primarily about addressing the issue, it’s not a counselling session, but your HR Manager will be empathetic and refer you, if needed, to a support organisation.

  9. Stay healthy. Maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle outside of work to help you cope with what’s happening at work. Exercise, get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy diet.

  10. Educate yourself. Learn everything you can about bullying, your company's policies on inappropriate behaviour. The more you know, the better your chances of successfully dealing with this situation.  This publication might be useful.

  11. Don't expect to change the bully. You have no control over a bully's willingness to accept that they are at fault. You can do your best to manage the situation, but it's really the company's responsibility to be responsive to the needs of their people and the wider work environment. 
This article is correct at 16/08/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Tanya Kennedy
Purpose Consultancy

The main content of this article was provided by Tanya Kennedy. Contact telephone number is 07710488905 or email tanya@purposeconsultancy.com

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