WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BULLIED AT WORK
Photo by W Perugini
Challenging relationships with co-workers are very common and can be frustrating. But, what happens when this turns into something more toxic? Bullying in the workplace is something that, unfortunately, you may find yourself facing.
Workplace bullying is something that can be extreme, or it might be more subtle. It can also wear you down over time. This is why it’s so important to deal with the problem, rather than just ignoring it and hoping it goes away.
In order to maintain your safety, confidence, and hard-earned position, here are some steps you can take to address the issue:
1. Maintain clear emotional boundaries
Firstly, it’s essential to set clear emotional boundaries. If you’re being bullied at work and you’re in a very unpleasant environment, it can get very easy to obsess over the situation and get upset about it.
Although this is understandable, getting too emotional can make you an easy target. It can make the bullying worse, and it can also be very damaging to your confidence and wellbeing.
Instead, try and detach from the problem a little and take a step back. Remember, you’re not the problem, so don’t take it personally. It’s important not to blame yourself and to keep a clear head. This way, you can make a plan and take action as needed.
2. Stand up for yourself
Next, try and stand up for yourself as much as possible. Of course, we recommend avoiding situations where you’re alone with the bully or bullies as much as possible and try not to aggravate the situation. But, it’s important to stand your ground, too.
One of the best ways to deal with bullies is to deflect, stay calm, and appear as confident as possible. Don’t be intimidated, as this can make the bullying worse.
If possible, try and speak to the person bullying you directly to see if you can resolve the problem. If this fails, you will need to take further action – keep reading to find out how and when it’s appropriate that you should do this.
3. Seek help and support
If you are unable to resolve the matter with the bully or bullies yourself, the next step is to seek help and support. Make sure you don’t isolate yourself, as this can be detrimental to your mental (and sometimes physical) health.
Start by talking to someone you trust. It might be a colleague, or it may be someone outside of work like a friend or family member. It can help to have an outsider’s opinion. Plus, it’s really helpful to offload some of the stress.
If you don’t have anyone you want to talk to, try seeking other support instead. If your company has an internal department for dealing with bullying, speak to them straight away. If not, search for external organizations that can offer you help and advice.
4. Take care of yourself
When you’re facing bullying at work, it’s important to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. In any high-stress situation, you need to find ways to manage the stress so your health and wellbeing doesn’t suffer.
Outside of work, make time to do things you enjoy. This might be a hobby or activity you love, or it might be spending time with friends and family. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you’re eating well, and exercising regularly, as this can lower your stress levels.
Another way to do this is by learning some relaxation techniques. Or, you could take a course in stress management or assertiveness. Not only will this help you deal with the bullying, but it will also help in other areas of your life, both now and in the future.
At work, make sure you’re taking all the breaks and time off you’re entitled to. This will give you time away from the office, which will help you stay calm. If you feel like you can’t cope, take sick leave, and speak to a doctor about seeking counseling or other solutions.
5. Keep records of everything
If the bullying becomes unbearable, you may choose to file a complaint. If you’re going to take a complaint to your supervisor, manager, or HR department, you will need to document everything that happens and keep records of specific incidents.
Carefully check your job description and work contract. This may help you to find evidence of unfair treatment, such as being given menial work, short deadlines, or a very high workload. In addition, check your employers’ policies on bullying and harassment.
When making your complaint, always state the facts clearly. Avoid being emotional, as this can come across badly. If you can, get witnesses or physical evidence of occasions where colleagues have behaved in an unacceptable manner.
6. Make sure you have an exit strategy
Lastly, come up with a “plan b”, or exit strategy, that you can use if needed. Remember, it’s okay to move on, especially if your mental health is at stake. You don’t need to stay in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you choose to leave, make sure you tell your employer why you’re leaving. You can also consider taking legal action in this scenario, either through an employment tribunal, civil claims court, or personal injury claim.
We hope that you will not continue to be bullied at work. But, for some people, it’s an unpleasant reality. These tips should help you resolve the situation so you can improve your quality of life and happiness in the workplace!