Bullying in the workplace - help is at hand
One of the hardest workplace issues to face can be bullying and harassment. Bullying or harassment in the workplace is persistent, unpleasant behaviour, which is critical and intended to attack and undermine its victim. Often a bully will focus on a weakness or perceived weakness or a difference such as race or religion. Bullying in the workplace is not always between managers and those who report to them, it can happen in any working relationship.
Being bullied at work can be a devastating experience. It can cause a huge number of physical symptoms, headaches, sleeplessness, poor concentration, anxiety and depression. It can make you feel very isolated and often give you a feeling of hopelessness. Yet there is hope and you can recover from the effects of the workplace bully.
Counselling can help
People will go to see a counsellor to work out what their next step should be. This has a number of advantages.
- It keeps them in control of what will happen.
- The counsellor will accept them and try to do their best to help.
- It offers an opportunity to talk through what is happening with an independent person.
- It offers the opportunity to choose what option they want to try next.
This counselling process helps to work through what has gone on and can make you much more aware of how you want to move forward and who you need to support and help you. Often if you have been the victim of bullying over a period of time you will feel run down and less self-confident. Again the process is about a reality check and challenging some of those unhelpful thoughts.
That first and most important step is to realise that you are not the only person that this happens to; giving you permission to ask for help and get the bullying sorted out. The hardest step can be this first one because we wonder if we'll be believed and have to think of someone you trust enough. It can be hard when you feel anxious about the whole process. Depending on your situation you may find it useful to talk to:
- a trade union representative
- your manager (or their manager)
- the human resources department
- your company may have a bullying and harassment policy or an occupational health service
- a counselling service
- your GP
- your friends or family.
People are often surprised at how much the situation can be improved just by being able to talk about it rather than having to bottle it all up inside. There is no simple solution because each person’s situation is so unique.
Tackling the bullying
In some cases appropriate challenging of the bully can bring about a helpful change. In some cases for example the bully may be unaware of their behaviour. Even in these cases however, you have to feel strong enough to speak to the bully about the incidents and that might feel too difficult. In other cases you may need to take further action. In all cases you will find it easier if you have identified and have people you can talk to and whose counsel you feel comfortable with.