In this modern fast-paced world, work can already put a great amount of pressure on us causing stress, depression and many other negative issues. We spend most of our time at work and it is crucial that our work environment, including the people we work with, feel emotionally and physically safe. Unfortunately in most of the workplaces, even if most of your colleagues appear to be friendly, polite and kind, there might be the possibility that not all of them are being genuine and truthful. Abuse in the workplace such as bullying is not an unusual thing and it happens everyday more often than we know or see. It is an unacceptable behaviour that no one should go through. In this post I will share some of my own experience, tips on how to deal with bullying and also all the different types of bullying which people can encounter in a workplace or might be unaware of.
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the amount of daily personal or work tasks then check out the two following articles: “Healthy life: how to prevent & manage stress effectively” and “Amazing effective strategies: how to improve your time management skills”
How do we identify workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is the erratic, persistent and unfair behaviour of a group of people or one person towards someone which is designed to make them feel uncomfortable and cause distress. There are many types of bullying but I always seem to recognise and also experience, what I would define, the “sneaky one” which is the well-known social bullying “Sent to Coventry”. In my opinion, this kind of bullying is usually one of the worst, as the historical phrase suggests it involves one individual or a group of individuals to ignore or intimidate someone like they don’t exist or matter. The phrase “Sent to Coventry” comes from the English Civil War where prisoners would be sent to Coventry (a Parliamentary stronghold) and get isolated from the rest of the world. Before I will go deeper at explaining this kind of bullying, of course there are many different kinds of bullying which you can experience at work so let’s have look at them in the list down below:
Making fun of another employee
Expecting unreasonable workload
Abusing someone physically
Your boss does not allow you to attend training courses but let everyone else
Spread lies about a coworker
Not taking in consideration of a worker’s idea or opinion
Ignoring someone messages or emails
Insulting an employee especially in front of other employees
Spreading negative gossip about a coworker
Blaming an employee without evidence
Keep reminding a coworker of their previous mistakes or failures
Being on someone’s back constantly
Not ever involving an employee in any of the group activity
Treating an employee unfairly such as favouring other employees
Putting an employee off in using their annual leave, benefits, breaks etc.
Here below I would like to share my story as I believe that it might help
You might be surprised about the very long list which I have just presented but bullying comes in different forms. Normally when we think of bullying we are thinking of school bullying which some of us have certainly experienced. I have experienced that in college in Italy in my 3rd and 4th year. There was a group of 3 girls but particularly one of them who continuously bullied me. She started to bully me because I was better than her in artistic gymnastics (which was at the time our P.E class) and also in biology. Not really a good reason to make someone else’s life miserable but unfortunately these people from a very young age start to show their unhealthy and aggressive behaviour. Many of the bullies tend to have narcissistic tendencies and they will usually try to be sneaky and bully or treat you badly in front of people. But in my case, she wasn't fooling around the English teacher that saw through her erratic behaviour and told her off. Unfortunately it took a couple of years before it stopped. I continued to experience bullying in the different companies I worked for, from directors, managers and from other coworkers and they were all different kinds of bullying. The worst one though was a young woman in my last company which seemed to appear very friendly and nice to me in front of the other colleagues and especially in front of her boyfriend (he was my team leader). Sneakily though when me and her would be alone or even if she was with other colleagues, unless her boyfriend was there, she would either be rude to me, ignore or avoid me. If I tried to speak to her she would either cut me out from the conversation saying that she was busy or had to go or just quickly answer and make it clear that she didn’t have any intention to speak to me. On her birthday she said thank you to everybody for the presents received, except to me and that was the only time that I said something and then she quickly laughed and apologised like it wasn’t at all her intention. I would advise anyone who has had this kind of bullying or are experiencing it at present, so called “Sent to Coventry” social bullying, to be very careful with these kinds of people because they are the worst kind of narcissists. The reason why that is, is because people don’t see or can’t witness what is happening as they are very good at hiding it in front of the others making you look like you are imagining things and that you don’t make sense. I could have had a word with my team leader and shared how uncomfortable she made me feel but I believed that it would have been a waste of time and I strongly think, sadly, that he would have not believed me and may started to treat me badly too. Of course, she had many unsolved issues as again this kind of behaviour is not just unacceptable but also is not normal. Even if it is only one person, it is not right to treat someone bad if they are nice to you. There is no reason behind it unless there is some kind of jealousy involved. Probably things would have been different now as I would have definitely dealt with it differently. So it is from here that I am going to share with you tips on how to deal with bullies at work in the most professional and smooth manner and how to become a stronger and happier person.
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How can you deal with work bullying?
Depending on what kind of bullying there are many different ways to deal with it but I believe that the main step is educating yourself and understanding the psychology of it. That personally really helped me as by studying, researching and watching videos on YouTube about narcissism and bullying I gained a deep understanding of their behaviour and tactics. If you can understand them you can deal with the situation more efficiently and in the best way. In addition, knowing what kind of bully you are up against will help you to understand what is triggering their erratic behaviour and what steps to take in order to avoid becoming one of their victims. Usually these people have serious underlying issues and when they have been caught out they will play the guilty card. But always remember that no one is justified in abusing or treating someone else unfairly just because they had a difficult upbringing, a tough life or anything similar. We can change our life by making the right choices and by respecting your coworkers or even anyone else in your life it is the right and wise step to take for a better society.
Try to talk with someone that you fully trust at work and share with them your concerns can really help to ease the problem. Also by consulting with another colleague it might bring up some useful information like for example if you find out that other people have been a victim or complained about that person before. Some coworkers might be a support to raise a formal complaint against the person who is bullying you because they may have felt uncomfortable or were treated unfairly too. Lastly, even if they have never had any issue with that particular employee, they could still advise you on how to handle the situation.
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Dealing directly with the bully is the most daunting but effective way to deal with bullying. It is important that you don’t shout, call names or lose your control in any situation. You have to face them and give them a clear message that will show them that you are not intimidated by them and that you are fully aware of what they are doing. Something like “I would appreciate it if you would not speak to me in that way or that tone” or “I don’t appreciate your attitude towards me”. Being very concise and using a firm tone is crucial in order to give the message across that you are serious and that you are strong enough to stand up to them. In most serious cases or in cases such as the “Sent to Coventry” talking to someone higher up in the company such as a manager or HR might be a good idea as it might be a bit more complicated to sort out this matter by yourself.
Another good step to take, is to try to get as much evidence as you can from your closest colleagues, managers or HR. If you can open up to them and explain to them what is happening they could keep an eye on the person that is bullying you and become witnesses. That could be an efficient tactic if the bullying is that sneaky and especially when they are nice to everyone apart from you. Most of the time people who are bullied because bullies or narcissists are envious of their success, beauty, happiness, achievements and anything else which can threaten them. It is sad that some people can’t be happy for the happiness and success of other people and I personally believe that even if you had a hard life it doesn’t justify you wanting others to experience the same.
I hope that you’ve found this post useful and if you would like to ask some questions, share your own experience, or just leave a short comment down below, I would love to hear from you.
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