Bullying can happen on the job
The effects of bullying can vary in severity but can be devastating to both a person’s physical and mental well-being. The abuse may be such a regular event that it is soon established as ‘normal’. Bullying or abuse of any kind whether it be mental or physical is totally unacceptable.
If you have already established that you are a victim of bullying, then the first thing to remember is that it’s not your fault. The fault lies with the bully. As difficult as it may seem, you have a responsibility to yourself and to others to do something about the situation.
There are various options to consider. The first is to face up to the bully, telling him or her calmly and confidently that you do not think you are receiving fair treatment. If there is a particular issue, you could suggest ways of addressing it. Whatever happens, you must remain calm and rational, do not enter into an argument or let yourself become emotional. A bully will want you to lose control and doing so will give him or her more ammunition and ultimately more power.
If you feel that you cannot face the bully or if your attempts to talk rationally to the bully have failed you will need to take further action. If there is a trusted colleague that you can confide in and you have not already done so, it may be advisable to talk the problem through before taking any further action. A third party may help you to look at the problem objectively as well as giving you advice and support.
They may also be able to highlight something in your behavior that is making you a vulnerable target for a bully. Following this, your next step would be to talk to your immediate manager. If the bully and the manager are one and the same, then take the complaint to a higher level of management. All bullying complaints should be taken further, whether it be a couple of meetings or a full investigation. You need to make sure that your complaint is addressed.
One of the most difficult things to do is to stop bullying in an organization where it has been established as part of the routine. Many people, both the bully and the victim will have accepted it as a normal way of working. If this is the case visible changes must be seen to occur to bring about the reassurance that positive steps are being taken to address the problem of bullying.
Ensure all employees are aware of the policy. If there is no policy, one should be drawn up as soon as possible and distributed to all staff. The following points should all be included in the policy:
- Ensure all employees are aware of what bullying behavior entails. Make it part of the induction process.
- Put posters up to encourage reporting.
- Ensure all employees know what procedure to follow when reporting a bully.
- Actively encourage the reporting of bullying and let it be known that bullying will not be tolerated in any shape or form.