We have all been through the torrid times of school when in some way or other we were directly involved or felt the consequences of bullying. However, once we grow out of that phase and after we have wrestled our way through college degrees, and just when we feel like taking a breather and enjoying the full freedom of adulthood, we end up with a workplace bully.
It is not that uncommon as we may think; a 2009 Press Release by UNISON claims ‘more than a third of the 7,000 workers who took part in a UNISON survey have experienced bullying in the last six months.’
A recent study conducted by Zogby and Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute in America found that 37% of Americans have been bullied and 12% had witnessed bullying. The study further goes on to state that Bosses comprise 72% of bullies and 62% of employers ignore the problem.
Bullies more often than not are sociopaths with a pattern. Sometimes they may resort to bullying others and dumping their work on them when they are confronted with deadlines and pressure. However, they mostly resort to it to satisfy their own egos. The victims surprisingly, are over-achievers and enthusiastic performers. Bullies are found to be jealous of those they bully, or are insecure of their own position.
Often people who suffer from bullying don’t realize it unless they read about it or someone talks to them. By the time they realize what’s going on with them is wrong, they have lost a lot of good years of their life.
How to know if you are being bullied?
- Are you being labeled or called names?
- Are you being ridiculed or hauled with abuses?
- Are you facing sarcasm at work?
- Is someone damaging your reputation?
- Have you been subject to physical violence?
- Are you a victim of instant rages by someone over matters of little importance?
- Are you being humiliated in front of your colleagues?
- Are your efforts being constantly undervalued?
- Are you being criticized persistently?
- Are you being treated like an office dog, being blamed for everything that goes wrong?
How do you handle a work place bully?
The work place bully can be anyone, your boss or a colleague. You can easily identify a bully as he/she would not respect your personal space, would be snoopy and take every opportunity to embarrass you and show you down in public, or emotionally when you are alone. He would make you feel worthless and make you doubt your own instincts to bring down your self-confidence. At times, a bully may even act as a friend who wants to advise you because ‘he/she thinks’ you could do with a little help.
- Don’t let a blly enjoy the pleasure of emotionally manipulating you. Calmly evaluate the situation and don’t ponder over his/her advice, as it’s a honey trap.
- Don’t doubt or blame yourself. Don’t lose your confidence in your abilities and tell yourself that this is about him/her and not you. They are not actually better than you, but you are better than them at work.
- Don’t start neglecting work because of the bully. Keep up the good work and always put your best performance forward.
- Talk to your colleagues and coworkers; find out if they have suffered from similar behavior. It will help in building a support network and you not being castrated away from amongst them.
- Keep a record of all the incidents in writing of all the instances, dates, times, anyone present who witnessed it and your own feelings. Keep it at home or a safe place, but never in office, as bullies have been known to go through office desks to use it against their victims.
- Don’t try to confront the bully yourself, talk to a mentor or someone experienced, or even your attorney. Don’t talk openly about it with your boss or HR, as it is not completely confidential and also because your bully may be well liked in the organization, and the people who know him may not be able to see him the way you describe. Contact the National Bullying Helpline at 0845 22 55 787 if you need to.
- Talk to a counselor as it could be causing a lot of stress to you and probably affecting your mental health. Also, try talking to your partner or spouse, as they will be able to understand and support you through this troubled situation.
- Keep your work and personal lives separate so that the pressure doesn’t build up on you. Take in every day as a fresh one and every problem as new. Also, don’t compromise on your health and sleep. Eat, exercise and sleep enough to keep you fit.
- Research and learn as much as you can about bullying and go through your office policies regarding such behavior. Click here to access an online bullying resource.
- Evaluate the entire situation and know your options. If you feel that you would be better off leaving the job, do so. There is no point in wasting your time at work when your health and personal life may be jeopardized. You can also talk to the National Bullying Helpline and let their HR experts help you with a ‘Without Prejudice Compromise Agreement’, which will make your leaving the company, much more amiable.
Anytime you face bullying, remember to consult someone and not take it lightly as something that will go away with time. Bullying is a severe and persistent problem and as ITV Daybreak Survey reveals that every one in three people experiences bullying at work and 43% of those who experience it, do nothing. Whereas one in ten people faced with bullying is forced to quit his job.
To read more: Conflict Management in the Workplace: what to do ?.