We spend a lot of our time at work and more often than not we forge some great friendships, build social lives, and have a fairly good experience. But, if you’re dealing with workplace bullying, it can feel stressful and isolating, and have a negative impact on your mental health.
What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying can take various forms, and it generally involves repeated and harmful behaviour targeted at one person or a small group of people.
There is no one agreed definition, but common elements of workplace bullying include the following:
Bullying typically involves repeated incidents over time rather than isolated occurrences.
The behaviour is intended to harm, intimidate, or demean the person being targeted.
Bullying often occurs in a situation where there is a power imbalance between the perpetrator and the victim. This could be a supervisor targeting someone they manage, or it could involve coworkers with differing levels of influence within the company.
The behaviour is unreasonable and goes beyond what would be considered acceptable workplace norms.
Hostility or aggression
Bullying can manifest as verbal abuse, offensive conduct, or other forms of aggressive behaviour.
Impact wellbeing and performance
The person being targeted may experience emotional distress, anxiety, or a decline in their job performance and overall wellbeing because of the bullying.
Examples of workplace bullying can include:
- Verbal abuse (insults, name-calling, yelling, or using offensive language)
- Social isolation (deliberately excluding someone from work-related activities or social interactions)
- Undermining work (sabotaging projects, spreading false rumours, or withholding information necessary for the person to perform their job)
- Unfair criticism (constantly providing negative feedback without constructive guidance)
- Excessive workload (deliberately overloading someone with work beyond their capacity)
- Cyberbullying (using electronic means to harass, intimidate, or humiliate a person)
It’s essential to note that bullying is different from constructive feedback which is intended to help people improve their performance rather than harm them.
Bullying at work can lead to a serious decline in mental health and is not something to be ignored.
What to do if you’re experiencing workplace bullying
If you are being bullied at work, it’s important to take steps to address the situation calmly and confidently to stop it from continuing.
Every workplace is unique, and the effectiveness of these steps may vary depending on your specific circumstances.
Here are some actions you could take…
Document any incidents
Keep a detailed record of the bullying incidents, including dates, times, locations, and descriptions of what occurred. Note any witnesses to the bullying and gather their contact information.
Review company policies
Your company may have a policy on harassment and bullying. This information is often found in an employee handbook, policy folder, or via your human resources department.
Seek social support
Talk to friends, family, or colleagues for emotional support. Sharing your experiences with others can help validate your feelings and provide perspective on what’s happening.
Talk to the perpetrator
If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, consider addressing the issue directly with the person engaging in the bullying behaviour. Sometimes, they may not be aware of the impact of their actions.
Speak to a supervisor or manager
If the bullying persists, report the issue to your immediate supervisor or manager. Be prepared to present your documented evidence and provide specific details about the incidents.
Contact your Human Resources department
If the bullying continues or if your supervisor is the perpetrator, contact your organisation’s human resources department. They can provide guidance on the company’s procedures for handling workplace conflicts.
Seek external advice
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, ACAS, provide employees with free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice, and help to resolve disputes.
Make a formal complaint
If you can’t resolve the issue informally, consider making a complaint or raising a grievance so that the matter is dealt with officially. This is something that Citizens Advice can support you with.
Take care of your wellbeing
Workplace bullying can have a significant impact on mental and physical health. Take steps to prioritise self-care and be kind to yourself while you navigate this difficult time.
How counselling can help you deal with workplace bullying
Counselling can be a valuable resource if you are experiencing bullying at work, providing emotional support, coping strategies, and a safe space to process the impact of the bullying.
As a highly trained and experienced counsellor, I offer a safe and confidential environment for you to express your feelings, fears, and frustrations. Having a supportive and non-judgmental space to talk can be crucial for your emotional wellbeing.
I will take the time to listen and reassure you that your feelings related to workplace bullying are legitimate. This validation can be empowering and reduce the isolation often accompanying bullying.
We can explore your options and make informed decisions about how to address the bullying situation. This might involve discussing whether to confront the bully, report the behaviour, or seek other support within the workplace.
I’ll offer insights into workplace dynamics and guidance on navigating difficult interpersonal relationships. This can include strategies for communication, conflict resolution, and managing professional relationships.
We’ll work together to develop coping strategies to manage the emotional impact of bullying. This might include stress reduction techniques, mindfulness, and other coping mechanisms to navigate the challenges.
Bullying can erode your self-esteem and sense of empowerment, so I’ll help you to rebuild confidence link to, set boundaries, and develop assertiveness skills.
Counselling is not only about addressing immediate issues but also about fostering long-term wellbeing, helping you to develop resilience and coping skills that extend beyond the specific challenges of workplace bullying.
Please get in touch if you’d like to book counselling sessions in Suffolk or online.