Do you battle with bullying at work?
Bullying is a school playground problem – or so many of us thought. Yet for a growing number of adults bullying in the workplace is a difficult and daily problem.
Bullies are self-centred, controlling and control others through a use (or misuse) of power. Bullying happens in many ways. It can happen in public or in secret. The bullying might be done by an individual or by a group. They will use those who don’t conform or fit as punch bags. Sometimes the bullying can be very passive, personal nasty remarks followed by words like: “I was only joking”
Someone who is the target of bullying can feel powerless, isolated and alone. Our parents may have told us to stand up to the school bully or to ignore them and they will go away. It feels like while that will work in the simple world of the child, the world of work is much more hostile. You may be in fear of losing your job. You may feel that although others see what is going on no-one would back you up. Bullying saps your self-confidence so you may have a sense of hopelessness and start to believe that there is something wrong with you that makes you the target of this attention. Yet the reality is that adults are in a much more powerful place to deal with bullies and there are things that they can do.
- Recognise bullying for what it is; don’t dismiss it as harmless fun or an aggressive personality. Notice that it is unwanted behaviour and you expect to be treated fairly like an adult
- Document incidents, this is particularly important if the bullying is being done by someone more senior. It can also help you spot patterns when things went better.
- You need to look after yourself. Keeping yourself energised means doing things for you, perhaps you enjoy time with friends or have a hobby or listen to music. Take some gentle exercise and eat healthily. It is also useful to think about talking to someone about what is happening. That could be a friend or a family member or it could be a counsellor. Many companies will have an Employee Assistance Program which may be able to help.
- Look into how your company deals with bullying in the workplace. Most organisations will have a harassment policy and it will outline what action you can take. Get to know your options. It may help to talk over your options with HR.
Having spent time getting all of these skills and tools ready you then need to decide what you want to do about the bully. That could include living with what is going on. But notice that by doing some of the actions above you have now got choices and can choose to take more control if you need it.
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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.