How to Spot and Combat Bullying in the Workplace
The workplace is not always a neutral and safe space. Instead, it can be a hostile environment for employees. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, about 15% of people have experienced bullying in the workplace. If you think that this statistic is too low, you’re probably right. Firstly because there are many people who are afraid to come forward and admit they have been bullied at work, but also because there are many cases of bullying going unreported every year.
This is why it’s important that we understand what constitutes workplace bullying, how to spot it and most importantly how to combat it before it has a detrimental effect on your career or mental health.
What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is the repeated and deliberate abuse of power by one or more employees over another(s). It is a form of harassment which can lead to very serious consequences for both the target(s) of the bullying and the business itself. Although the most common targets of workplace bullying are those in low-ranking or high-risk jobs such as secretaries or shift workers, any employee can be a victim.
Bullying can consist of any one or a combination of the following: verbal abuse, public humiliation, improper disciplinary action, false accusations of poor performance, sabotage of projects, withholding of deserved promotions and/or pay raises, and a general feeling of being treated unfairly.
How to spot bullying in the workplace?
Is someone at work making your life difficult? Are you getting a bad vibe from a colleague? Have you been given an inappropriate assignment? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be the target of workplace bullying. There are many ways to identify bullying in the workplace.
Here are some of them:
Be mindful of the types of bullying you may be experiencing. If you find that you’re experiencing more than one type of bullying, you’re definitely being bullied.
Keep a record of all the incidents of bullying that happen to you. This will help you build a case against your bullies.
Get feedback from others about what’s going on in your department. It’s possible that your bullies are targeting other people as well.
3 common types of workplace bullying
Verbal abuse – Verbal bullying can be very difficult to prove since it’s a mostly un-written form of abuse. That said, verbal abuse can be very damaging and make it difficult for you to do your job effectively. Verbal abuse can manifest in many ways including: shouting, insults, threats, withholding information, and forcing you to do things against your will.
Public humiliation – Most people can stand being shouted at or insulted privately, but very few can take public humiliation. Public humiliation can take many forms including: making an example of you in front of your co-workers, deliberately keeping you in the dark about upcoming events, or purposefully embarrassing you in front of your co-workers.
Improper disciplinary action – Disciplinary action must be timely and consistent to be effective. If your workplace engages in the practice of throwing people under the bus, then you’re almost certainly being bullied.
How to combat workplace bullying from the victim’s perspective
Document every incident of bullying that happens to you. Keep a journal where you record the date, time, and details of each incident as they occur. This will provide you with evidence if you need to take legal action against your bullies.
Talk to your supervisor or someone in HR about your situation. If you’re serious about stopping your bullies, you must tell your supervisor.
Seek therapy or counselling. The best way to combat workplace bullying is to take care of yourself. Therapy and counselling can help you to process all that you’ve been through and get your mental health back on track.
2 ways to combat bullying from a bystander’s point of view
Speak to the victim and let them know that you’re there for them. They need someone who’s not involved to take their side.
Speak to the victim’s bullies. The best way to combat workplace bullying is to let the aggressors know that you’re aware of what they’re doing. Report the incidents of bullying to your supervisor or someone in HR. Let them know what’s going on so that they can step in and put a stop to it.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid being bullied at work is to be a good person. Be kind to others, be a hard worker, and strive to do the best job you can. If you encounter bullying, do your best to report it and let your aggressors know that their bullying is not acceptable.
If you’re a bystander to someone being bullied, speak up and let your aggressors know that their behaviour is not acceptable. Together, we can make the workplace a safer and more respectful place to be.
For help with a Workplace bullying investigation contact visit this page.