I’ve experienced workplace bullying a couple of times and it was soul destroying. In one organisation staff would gossip about me, but not quietly enough for me not to hear; and in another colleagues felt I was working too hard and showing them up, so decided to obstruct and then ostracise me.
Over the 13 years that I have been providing career coaching, I have found that the problem with bullying is that while you are experiencing it, you often question yourself, ‘is it me?’, ‘am I imagining it??’, or ‘am I overreacting’ and during this time, your confidence is being eaten away at.
In my experience most people only realise that they are being bullied in hindsight.
According to an ACAS report, bullying is on the rise in the UK and recent news, such as the France Telecom case, in which it seems that bullying has led to the suicide of 19 staff, highlight the breadth of the problem!
I recently undertook some research on confidence. I wanted to understand what positively and negatively impacts our confidence levels to assist my coaching clients better.
One of the findings that surprised me was that bullying by colleagues or your boss came up top as something that has negatively impacted our confidence. The effects of bullying seem to cause long term damage.
Wouldn’t it be better not to have to regain our confidence after bullying, but instead not experience it at all, or have the skills and strategies to challenge it?
Not sure if you are being bullied? According to high speed training , here are some potential signs:
- Constant criticism.
- Removal of duties without reason.
- Overbearing supervision or monitoring.
- Threats, aggression, and shouting.
- Being put down, picked on (either in private or in front of others), and made to feel like the butt of the jokes.
- Being excluded and ignored.
- Having malicious rumours spread.
- Unwelcome sexual advances.
- Misusing a position of power to belittle, demean, or intimidate.
- Refusing reasonable requests.
- Unfounded threats and comments about job security.
- Blocking promotion, progress, or training opportunities.
If any of these ring alarm bells for you, then here are 6 steps that you can take to try and resolve the issue:
1. Keep Outwardly Calm
Bullies like to emotionally manipulate people, so showing that their manipulation is working will just encourage their behaviour. Being outwardly calm can help dissolve the issue.
2. Record Everything
Write bullying that you experience down immediately so that you don’t forget it, and you have evidence and specific examples. It will also help you recover your sense of control.
3. Get some external support
Bullying can take its toll on your health. Some people experience anxiety, helplessness and depression as a result. Seek out support from your family, friends, or professionals like a counsellor, coach, or doctor. It is important to know that there are others in your corner.
4 . Stand up for yourself
Set your limits and boundaries while still being professional. Eg. ‘I will not tolerate being shouted at in the workplace.’
Practice how you would respond the next time the bully does something to you so that you respond quickly and calmly.
Be simple and straightforward; do not get into verbal slanging match, instead look them in the eyes and remain strong.
5 . Make a bottom-line case
Sadly, many managers are generally hesitant and unwilling to intervene in a situation of bullying among colleagues. However, to address the issue it is essential to persuade them.
You can describe to the manager or HR how the bullying affects work and stops it from getting done, reduces the quality of work, or productivity. Explain that this is the reason you ask for something to be done so that the bullying stops to not just help you but for the employer’s sake too.
6 . Prepare for potential retaliation
Unfortunately, a bully may find a way to retaliate even in subtle ways, making it difficult for anyone to identify the tactics of the bully and impossible for the human resource manager to take action against them.
Persevere, keep addressing the issue in related meetings and ask for the company’s policies to guard you against retaliation. In cases where the bullying continues and intensifies, you can seek to take legal actions.
Lastly….It’s not easy to stand up to bullies, sometimes the best thing is to walk away from a toxic situation, which is what I did in one of my situations, in the other a senior colleague noticed and tackled the bully.
Have you experienced workplace bullying, what were the signs, what, if anything did you do about it?
#Bullyingatwork #Confidence #careercoach
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