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Are you being bullied at work?

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Being bullied at work is sadly a very common experience with more and more people are having to find their way through this stressful situation. When we hear the word bullying we often conjure up images of aggressive physical fights but in reality there is a whole spectrum of behaviour that can both intimidate and threaten employees in their place of work.

Being bullied at work affects your self esteem

Seemingly small acts of ignoring a person can have a very detrimental affect on a persons self-esteem, repeatedly having your suggestions not taken up in meetings can overtime erode your confidence. Being given unrealistic levels of work is another way that colleagues or managers can unhealthily assert their control and of course being critisised for your work is a classic form of verbal attack.

Speaking out

Even though you may have very difficult feelings about what is happening it is really important that you find some way of speaking out about it. Bullying is a very serious issue and it may not only be you that is being treated in this way. You do not necessarily have to directly tackle the person/s concerned, initially it is a good idea to find someone who you feel safe with and who is able to support you. A supportive colleague or line manager that you trust are examples of possible confidantes, or a union rep or welfare officer.  Some offices have trained some members of staff to deal with complaints of bullying and these staff are called harassment advisers.

Don’t blame yourself

It is also very important that you challenge yourself if you find that you are having self blaming thoughts and feelings about what is going on. The problem lies with the person who is doing the bullying. Everyone who bullies is secretly very frightened underneath and it is often found that bullies are directly threatened by those that they target. Any comments or personal remarks that the person makes towards you is really a reflection of how they feel about themselves. The best thing you can do in the immediate situation as it is happening is to keep your cool and not get into justifying anything that they are bullying you about.

Being bullied at work

Constructive feedback

Sometimes it is done in complete ignorance and a person genuinely does not realise how their behaviour affects others. In these situations it is great if you can find a way of giving them some constructive feedback about how they communicate or behave towards you, it may be helpful to plan a bit in advance what you would like to say or even to ask someone else to say it for you. One of the most helpful communication approaches is something called Non Violence Communication (NVC) where you focus your feedback on what you notice, how you feel and what you need. More information can be found about this technique at the Non Violent Communication website.

 Keep a diary

If you feel that there is a more deliberate attack on you happening it is useful to keep a diary of events as they happen. It will be a very useful record if you decide that you want to take action. You can also challenge the person involved directly if you feel able to and let them know that what is happening is unacceptable to you and that you want it to change. It is very common for bullies to stop their attacks if someone stands up to them.

Follow the grievance procedure for your company

If you are working for an organisation they will have a grievance procedure and if you want to make a formal complaint this is the process that you will need to follow. There will usually be a series of steps and you may have to put your experience in writing. If the situation does get to this point it will be very helpful for you to have a supportive ally, maybe a colleague that you are friendly with or alternatively someone previously mentioned like a union representative. Sometimes the situation still does not get resolved at this stage. You then have the decision as to whether you want to take legal action. An information service like the Citizens Advice Bureau.  There is also a specialist National Bullying Advice Centre with a helpline and lots of very helpful advice on every aspect of workplace bullying.

Whatever is going on for you, remember that you are not alone, many other people have or are experiencing what you are facing and there are people who can help you find your way through.




About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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