Workplace bullying has turned out to be an enormous issue in businesses distressing 75 percent of employees whether as a target or a witness. Ranging from threatening and psychologically destabilizing coworkers to homicides, corporate intimidating has reached epidemic levels and continuously been growing worldwide. This is something more common than the racial discrimination or sexual harassment on the work.
What is workplace bullying?
Workplace harassment or bullying is verbal, physical, psychological or social abuse by your employer or any other individual or group at work. A threatening or humiliating act of someone at an office or anything preventing you from getting your work done comes under abusive conduct.
Whether it is a government organization, a private sector, a non-profit organization, or any community group, bullying can happen everywhere and with anyone from permanent employees to contractual or interns or students. Some workplace harassments are criminal offenses that can directly be reported to the police.
What bullying at workplace looks like?
According to a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, following acts come under bullying at workplace.
- Making fun of a person or his/her work, family, race, gender, culture, education or economic background
- Inappropriate or dishonorable comments, unwelcome touch or requests or anything that make you uncomfortable
- Preventing you from doing work or participating in anything relating to work or giving you hectic or pointless tasks that have nothing to do with your job
- Changing your work hour or working schedule with a wrong intention or to make it difficult for you to continue the job
- Pushing, grabbing or attacking with equipment like gun, knife or any other object that can be turned into a weapon
However, there are some things that may seem unfair but are not harassment. For instance, your boss may transfer or demote you as long as your employer is on right.
Who are the common Bullies?
Surprisingly, women are more likely to be bullied in a workplace than men and the majority of bullies are made by the Bosses. Most bullies are the managers, supervisors or other authoritative persons in office.
Unlike the bullying beyond the schoolyards, corporate bullying targets the strongest opponents rather than the weakest ones. Most of the time, the target is the one who is most skilled and experienced person in the workgroup and the bully is who is expert in manipulating and wants to maintain his/her position by hook or crook.
The bully tries to defame you spreading false stories about you behind your back. Also, there are some opportunist-type persecutors who are courteous to those who offer opportunities to them but they get their claws out for others. Then there are some intimidators who agree to do anything for the management wanting to get rid of employees for the reason that has nothing to do with work or company growth.
How to deal with it?
Stop the bully as soon as you start to notice that some unwanted things have been happening. Meanwhile, there are enormous types of issues in the business venture. Try these steps to kick the bully out:
Confront the bully
In most cases the only aim of a bully is to hurt or distress you, so do not entertain them giving their desired outcome. Try to stay calm in front of them and if the case is not so severe and you feel confident to face the bully, approach them and tell them that their behavior is not acceptable.
Turn the tables
The bully will continue targeting you till then you allow him to do so and do nothing in your defense. Try responding to abusive statements like “Is there anything you can do right?” with “You are here to tell everyone what is right or wrong?” When you show them that they have not succeeded in their aim to hurt you, they will have to back off.
Build a support network
Try to build a positive relationship with other people on work so they can help you out in such situations. Make a group of people including your colleagues and family who can support your fight against the persecutor. In fact, you can gain productive outcome in working space and utilize it as a recruitment tool. It will not make you feel alone and boost your confidence.
Bring everything on paper
Whenever you feel experiencing harassment, write down what happened, what was said, who heard or saw it. If you are being bullied over the internet through email or any correspondence, keep a hard and soft copy of the emails so you can use them as a proof.
Get witnesses and evidence
Try to figure out that how the bully behaves with other co-workers whether he adopts the same behavior with the rest or there is some change. Talk to other persons on the job; ask them to document the bully’s behavior and the incidents they witnessed when the bully targets any co-worker. If you are not the only one to be harassed, report the issue to the management along with the witnesses, documents, and evidence.
Report Issue to authorities
Share your problem with someone you trust at your workplace that might be your administrator or health and safety officer. There might be some policy or procedure to the complaint against the mistreatment or intimidation which may include a warning, a negotiation process or even dismissal of the bully if the situation does not change.
Take support from outside
If the situation remains unchanged even after complaining to the manager about the persecutor or there is no one on work you trust and talk about the situation, take help from outside. You can report the issue directly to the Police, non-profit organizations or government agencies.
How does law protect you from workplace bullying?
Unfortunately, there is neither any federal nor any state law that prohibits bullying at the workplace outright but it does not mean that bullying is legal in every situation. The law protects you from harassment and discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, culture, age or disability. If the bully threatens to physically harm you, you can sue for assault, or if they trace you from work to home they may be guilty of stalking. If you face malicious conduct that a reasonable person would find offensive you can have a hostile work environment claim. You are free to file a complaint with a government agency in case you face unlawful harassment but you have a short time to file your complaint _ probably 180 days.
If you are being bullied at your workplace file a complaint to your HR department or to the police in case the bully is breaking the law. Even if no law has been violated, it is in your and your employer’s best interest to put a stop on workplace harassment because it does not only harm the victim but also brings down performance, productivity and goodwill of the organization. A rational employer will take steps to stop bullying as soon as it comes to their knowledge.
However, if your organization fails to support you there are various community groups and support centers that guide you about the persecution on work and support you taking action against the bully. Be confident, positive and mindful; surround yourself with positive people who can guide you what’s better for you, and we can bet no one could ever harm you at least not at your workplace.