Bullying at Work is a reality and comes in many different forms. Some people find themselves being bullied by their manager whilst for others it may be someone they work alongside.

It can be difficult to know what to do if you feel you are being bullied. First of all, its important to identify the difference between bullying and performance management. If you are not reaching your goals or targets and your manager has tackled you about the issue then they may just be doing their job, however if you are being subjected to for example insult, rudeness, or perhaps being excluded on a regular basis and for no reason then what can you do about it?

What is Bullying in the Workplace?

As we have already mentioned bullying can take different forms such an being insulted and excluded by others. It can also include causing intentional embarrassment, ignoring people unjustified criticism, harassment, being overworked and being prevented promotion or other professional development

Bullying doesn’t just happen face to face, as we all know technology gives us access to social media and often people are bullied not just there but via text or email.

Effects of Bullying

Bullying in the workplace doesn’t just affect the victim whilst they are at work, it also has an impact on their personal lives. It can lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem and make it hard to cope with their daily lives which can lead to depression, stress and deterioration of a person’s wellbeing.

Making Excuses

Many bullies make excuses or try and justify their behaviour; often trying to convince others it is a misunderstanding. Sometimes their actions are ignored because they hold a senior post within the organisation. However bullying is completely inexcusable, regardless of who the bully is.

What Can I do?

If you do think you’re being bullied, don’t suffer in silence and don’t wait too long to speak up. Nobody deserves to be a victim.

Confronting a bully can be hard but unless you do something the bully will not go away and their behaviour will continue. If you make yourself an easy target, you will only encourage them and if you tolerate the bully’s behaviour, they’ll keep going with their unacceptable behaviour.

The first thing to do is to talk to them. Sometimes, the person involved may not realise the effect they are having on you and this might be enough to stop them. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them on a one to one basis, perhaps ask a colleague to act as a mediator.

Tell the bully exactly what they are doing that is unacceptable and that you are not going to put up with it. Call out the bully on your terms if you can.

Speaking To HR

If this option isn’t really an option then you need to work out who the best person is to speak to. It may be the department manager but more often the HR Department are the ones who can deal with your complaint. They should listen to the issues you are having and have a process in place to resolve things. Just talking sometimes helps and getting the issue off your chest is a good first step. Try and keep a record of dates, times and details of what happened so you have solid evidence when you decide it’s time to speak up.

The secret when discussing the issues and the bully’s behaviour and how it is making you feel is to stay calm and professional. The more rational you seem the easier it will be to work things out and find a resolution.

What Can Employers Do About Bullying?

Bullying creates an unhappy and unproductive workplace with poor morale, a loss of respect for managers and ultimately absence and resignations, so if you are an employer you need to develop and implement a formal policy, maintaining fair procedures for dealing promptly with complaints of bullying and harassment.

Next Steps

By tackling a bully in the workplace and addressing their behaviour you can hopefully regain a conflict-free workplace but if not, you can of course take you complaint higher and take legal action at an employment tribunal.