9 Signs to Spot Bullying in the Workplace:
- Name-calling. Whether you’re receiving abusive messages on an internal system or being called out in the office, having someone call you names is unpleasant and demoralising. It’s bullying!
- Ignoring, isolating or excluding. Deliberating ignoring someone, or excluding them from relevant meetings are ways of intentionally making someone feel isolated.
- Belittling. Equally, if someone contributes only to be made fun of or have their opinions discounted as bad or false, it can be considered bullying. This kind of undue criticism is unnecessary, as any good manager should be able to provide feedback in a constructive way.
- Scapegoating. Someone might think it gets them off the hook, but blaming others for mistakes is a sign of something much worse – that you’re willing to bully.
- Manipulation of roles. Making threats about job security or purposefully blocking someone’s progress at work, by removing their responsibilities without good reason, is a misuse of power.
- Setting you up to fail. Being set unachievable tasks or targets, designed to see an individual fail, is an example of workplace bullying.
- Spreading rumours. This kind of playground behaviour can have a huge impact on the general well-being of the victim.
- Giving you meaningless tasks. Everyone has to take their turn to make a round of hot drinks, but if you keep getting set all the worst jobs, it could be a sign of bullying.
- Aggressive behaviour. Any form of aggressive behaviour, such as shouting or intrusion of personal space, is unacceptable. Employees shouldn’t feel scared in the workplace, even if they’ve made a mistake.
Bullying is not in your job description. You do not have to put up with anything that makes you feel unhappy or uncomfortable. Some people worry they’re being oversensitive, but bullying is likely to affect your self-esteem, not to mention your performance at work, as well as your home life. You shouldn’t underestimate how it can make you feel. Nor should you put up with terrible excuses.
First steps to deal with bullying in the workplace:
- Get to know your company’s policy. Your employer should have a policy on behaviour in the workplace, including information on bullying. Find out all the details you can, including processes for informing supervisors and the steps you can expect them to take.
- Start informally. If you feel safe enough, the best thing you can do is to first talk to the person who is bullying you. In some cases, they might not be aware how their behaviour is affecting you. Talking to them may cause them to reflect on how they’ve treated you.
- Make management or HR aware. In many instances, it isn’t possible to confront the perpetrator head on. Instead, you’ve got to make the relevant people aware of what’s going on. Whether it’s management, HR, or your trade union, they’ll be able to take steps on your behalf to resolve the issue.
- Keep any evidence. Gathering a record of the date, times, place, details and names of any witnesses of any bullying could prove invaluable if anyone asks you to substantiate your claims. Save any horrible emails, and document the times you’ve been left out of relevant meetings.
- Find someone to talk to. Bullying is a stressful thing to go through. You shouldn’t have to experience it alone. Having someone you trust to talk to will help you minimise the impact it has on your life.
- Make 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 can seek to make an official complaint via the usual grievance procedures. Your employee handbook will detail this process.