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How to tackle bullying at work

Published: Tuesday 13th October 2020

Whether you’re aware or not, bullying at work is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in the business arena. Bullying at work can lead to health concerns, undue stress, anxiety, disengagement, and decreased productivity. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With that said, it’s of essence to take appropriate steps to handle bullying at work in order to support your well-being. That’s why we have put together some suggestions to consider if you find yourself at the mercy of bullying at work.

Recognise bullying at work and set your limits

Bullying in the workplace could be in person, or online. In fact, many bullies suddenly feel a lot braver when they can target people behind a screen. So, bullying could include name calling through abusive messages or ignoring, isolating and excluding like deliberately ignoring someone, or excluding them from relevant meetings. Moreover, belittling and scapegoating are other signs of this inexcusable behaviour along with manipulation of roles, spreading rumours and aggressive behaviour. Any kind of aggressive behaviour, such as shouting or intrusion of personal space, is unacceptable. Employees shouldn’t feel scared in the workplace, even if when making a mistake.

Check yourself

businesswoma nworried about reading bad news on smartphone while walking on street, bullying at work concept.

If you feel you are being bullied at work, the first thing to do is to take a minute to think of any ways you might be contributing to the challenging situation. It could be that you are doing nothing to provoke the bullying, which is often the case. On the other hand, whilst sizing up the situation you may find that you might be invoking this behavior in some way. Then you can determine the best way to deal with this.

Moreover, keep in mind that people make mistakes. Take a moment to consider whether this could be simply a one-time incident due to someone having a bad day. If yes, then think of letting it go and move on.

Document bullying at work and keep evidence

Always document everything as it relates to your interactions with the bully. This not only provides a timeline of events, but it also helps you recall information more easily when needed. It is also better to attempt to communicate via email when dealing with a bully so that you have a written record of the communication.

File an official complaint

If you feel like your problem hasn’t been taken seriously by those you informed at work, and the bullying hasn’t stopped, you should seek to make an official complaint via the usual company policy and procedures. Your employee handbook will detail this process.

offended black employee avoid talking to friends having misunderstanding, sad and upset alone.

Find someone to talk to…

Bullying is a stressful situation to be going through. You shouldn’t and don’t have to experience it alone. Having someone you trust to talk to will help you minimise the impact it has on your life.

Bottom line, you should not put up with bullying at work. Keep a level head and try not to take it personally. Always keep in mind that the problem lies with the bully, not with you. Take control of the situation by explaining, one-to-one, the problem and make an initial effort to talk it out. If that fails, file a formal complaint and follow the company’s policy.

All employers are obliged to tackle harmful behaviour. If the problem persists and your employer fails to act on it, maybe you should think about looking for a new job. Bear in mind that failure of your employer to address workplace bullying could constitute constructive dismissal and you could be eligible for compensation.

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