How Do You Identify and Overcome Workplace Bullying?

By Simon Peter

Bullies are distinct creatures, prowling on those they deem weak, having egotistical and narcissistic tendencies, the reasons behind their actions however can never be justified.

Common reasons identified by an anti-bullying charity called Ditch Label lists low self-esteem, toxic relationships in personal life and bad upbringings to be amongst the main reasons people become bullies.

In fact, there is no point identifying the cause of such bullying, but learning how to combat such advances can be useful to shutting them down.

Spot the Signs

Before using a method of shutting down a bully, one should first identify if they are being bullied in the first place.

A superior having a strict attitude towards their colleagues might not be a trait of a bully, people have their own idea of an authoritative figure, therefore being strict can be seen as a disciplinary trait.

The basic signs to spot a bully is if “name calling” is involved. Seen as a more childish and sometimes passive trait to a bully, name calling acts as an indicator to someone belittling their victim.

Sometimes even bosses and managers act as bullies. The authoritative power they hold serves as a weapon to stab their victims whenever they feel like. Bullies think they are superior to their victims; therefore, they do not like to be seen being around someone which they deem to be ‘beneath’ them.

Excluding a colleague on projects, conversations, recommendations for promotions and parties are just some of the signs. Superiors might also hand out unimportant tasks to their victims to break their morale.

Steps to Deal with Workplace Bullying

The First Approach:

The first step is to approach the bully, sometimes simply pointing out their behaviour can catch them off guard.

Approach without aggression or hostility, instead talk to them in a calm manner.

The key is to get the bully to open up to you on the reasoning, or even if they defend themselves with denial, simply tell them that you aren’t comfortable with the way they are treating you.

Policy and Rules:

If nothing changes after the first approach, it’s time to read up on employee behaviour policies. Note down the behavioural issue of your bully, based on the implemented policies.

Lastly, talk to Human Resources (HR). Saving physical evidence to back up your claim would also strengthen your case. Take caution when approaching superiors or HR, sometimes a bully would hold alliances within their circle, in this case the company.

Find for someone of authority without a biased standpoint to discuss the issue with. If all else fails, taking legal action might be the next move.

Reach Out to Others:

Talk to other colleagues, get help. If you aren’t a confrontational person, approaching a bully might be out of the question for you. While seeking anonymity when talking to HR can help, having someone to talk to can also aid with the process.

Encouragement or even advice can be provided by people around you. Whether it be friends, family or even other colleagues, trusting someone with your issue can go a long way.

Think of a Fresh Start

The harsh reality might be to move on and to look for a new job if all else fails. A toxic environment where bullying gets ignored is just not worth the fight and effort.

Your workplace should be respectful and colleagues should regard each other in a professional manner, bullying just perpetuates negativity and if not dealt with early, depression can creep into a victim’s life.