When we think of bullying, we typically imagine scenarios playing out between school aged children, high school students, or even interactions online. Bullying in the workplace is not usually considered unless you have experienced it firsthand. It can be a challenging situation to deal with, so today we would like to open the conversation around bullying in the workplace.
Bullying, no matter your age, can be a traumatic experience. It can impact your physical and mental health and can lead to feelings of sadness, frustration, hurt and anger. It can also harm your life outside of work leading to stress, anxiety, and/or depression. Therefore, it is not something that should be ignored.
What does bullying look like in the workplace?
Any kind of mistreatment in the workplace is unacceptable. There are policies and procedures in place to protect you from such acts, so it is important to recognize the signs of bullying so that it can be properly addressed. Here are some ways bullying manifests within the workplace:
- Intentionally being isolated or excluded from group conversations, work related discussions, or events outside of the work environment.
- Purposefully ignoring, not being acknowledged among your peers, or actively not speaking directly to you.
- Aggression toward an individual whether it be yelling, speaking inappropriately, or using harm.
- Intimidation can often be combined with aggression, where fear-based language and overt threats are used.
- Lying about certain situations or spreading false accusations or gossip.
- Forms of punishment, physical or emotional, that are unwarranted or not appropriate.
- Discounting a job well done or dismissing achievements.
What can you do?
Your workplace should have a policy in place to deal with this situation, which should be followed. You can also consider doing the following to protect yourself:
- Keep a record of each interaction with the person who is bullying you. This should include, dates, time, who was involved, and what occurred in detail.
- If you receive anything like emails, notes, texts, or letters from the bully, keep them.
- If you feel comfortable, talk to the person but be sure to have a witness present.
If the behaviour continues, your next step is to talk to your supervisor and provide them with the information you have documented. You can also seek support from human resources, your union or professional association.
While this is a difficult situation to be in, do not retaliate, and maintain professionalism.
No matter the industry your work in, you should never feel threatened or mistreated. If you find yourself victim of bullying in the workplace, follow procedures, and use the resources available to protect yourself and, potentially, others.