Discover the three secrets of tackling bullying at work
Bullying at work is a common and serious problem. If you are the victim it can leave you isolated, anxious, stressed and can leave you with no real idea what to do for the best. Bullying at work can take many forms, so it is probably worth thinking about what bullying is. We could define bullying at work as a series of actions (or inactions) that have a negative impact on the victim. The actions may be conscious or unconscious, but the victim will be powerless to defend themselves and it causes them to be upset. Often it is a manager misusing their power over a team member, but we also see groups exerting power over individuals, or co-workers with more experience or greater qualifications exert power.
If you find yourself the victim of bullying there are three things that you should do for yourself that will offer a difference.
First and most important is to focus on taking care of you. Bullying over a period of time has an impact on your health. Often it will be hard to get away from the bullying because when you are away from work it is all you can think of. Bullying at work often undermines our self-confidence and our belief in our abilities. Consider talking to a counsellor (perhaps there is a confidential service through your employer) or a friend about what is going on.
This is part of the first step which is taking care of yourself, focus on parts of your life away from work, remind yourself of the things you enjoy.
Second is deciding what you want to do about the bullying at work. A company will often have policy and procedure. However, a big part of tackling the bullying is going to be about you; your emotional strength to see a process through, how you will feel after the process comes to a conclusion, what you feel about the company and working there. This is why it is worthwhile taking time to talk through what you want to do. For most of us there are three options:
1. Tackle the bully through a harassment allegation.
2. Decide to put up with the behaviours.
3. Resign and move on.
None of the options are wrong and all have risks and benefits associated with them. For example, most of us are working to pay the bills, so need the financial security, so number two may be attractive. If we have reached a place where we have no life because of the bullying and can not face the fight then number three is the only sensible option. It is important that you choose the option that fits you.
The third step is to take the action that you decided upon in step two.
Often this needs a lot of support so knowing how you will get that support and who you can turn to is important. If you have decided to tackle the bully, there may be a union official who can help you to assemble your proof or it may be a family member who can take you for a coffee and forget about the whole work thing for half an hour.
Taking the action is the step that will help you move on, having made your choice, taken control and done the right thing for you.
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.