Workplace Bullying

How To Empower Yourself

By: Imogen Reed, Freelance Writer

In an increasingly pressured working environment in which people are striving to perform well, earn more money and compete with others to achieve perfection incidences of workplace bullying are becoming more common.

Bullying is technically defined as an issue in which one or more people use aggression or other unreasonable modes of behavior to undermine or upset a victim. This can be either enforced mentally or physically or in some severe instances, both. It is now even considered important and serious enough for an annual meeting to discuss its effects to be held in Copenhagen during June of 2012.

How Do I Recognize It?

If you are in a working situation in which you feel undue pressure is being put on you that makes you feel uncomfortable, upset harassed or angry then you may be experiencing bullying. If these feelings have been present for some time, have escalated, are occurring regularly you may have cause to complain or express dissatisfaction with your treatment.

Factors that may have an impact on bullying include gender, race and sexuality. Bullying is not something to be tolerated as it can have a very negative impact not just on your working life, but your home life too. This, as well as having an enormous personal and social impact can have an economic impact to, with some people being forced into leaving their positions and taking a cut in earnings which can then affect things like credit ratings, matters of credit card transfer, being unable to apply for mortgages or finding they cannot keep up the standard of living to which they are accustomed.

What Types Of Bullying Are There?

A short answer is, many. Situations in which one or more of the following occur can be defined as bullying:

Having your professional reputation belittled: This can take the form of humiliation in front of other colleagues, being accused of not taking enough care or effort with your work, having your opinions laughed at or scorned.

Personal Harassment: Including improper comments of a sexual or racial nature – these may take the form of jokes, teasing or insults. They can be directed at you verbally or via mediums such as e-mail.

Exclusion: This can be defined as being excluded from working activities, having essential information withheld from you that could aid projects you are working on or being prevented from accessing working opportunities that may be beneficial to you in furthering your career (such as not being given notice of any promotions that are in your place of work).

Being overworked: Unnecessary pressure being put upon you, unmanageable targets set or an unsuitable working environment which does not facilitate the completion of tasks in a satisfactory way.

Proactively Dealing With Workplace Bullies and Empowering Yourself

Did you know?: As many as a quarter of all employees in the US have experienced or are currently experiencing some form of bullying in the workplace? This figure equates to as many as 30 million workers who are being attacked either physically or mentally within the confines of their working environment.

There are methods and techniques which you can employ to try and deal with bullying in a sensible and proactive way. Firstly, and most appropriately an informal or conciliatory approach should be taken, with an effort made to raise the matter with the perpetrator. This can be done by either talking to them face to face or if that is not achievable in writing – via e-mail or a letter.

If this is not successful, the next step to identify and take is confidential support within the work environment from an appropriate source. This can be either in the form of a bullying support adviser, perhaps someone in the Human Resource Department at your work. An informal meeting should be arranged to discuss concerns and problems. It is always useful to have a trusted colleague or friend to come with you in such situations to provide support and back up if needed, and to also make notes of any conversations or discussions that have taken place for future record.

If the above fail or do not resolve the issues the final step is to make a formal complaint to your Human Resources. You may also wish to involve your Union in such a matter.  They can provide extra support in these matters and attend meetings, sometimes even speak on your behalf if you feel you are not in a position to do so.

What Are The Possible Outcomes?

In some situations, an informal chat or complaint can resolve situations. Some people are not aware that their behavior can sometimes be misconstrued or taken the wrong way. In situations whereby a formal complaint has been made, disciplinary action would mean that if found in your favor, the perpetrator of bullying would be punished in some way, remedial action such as a suspension may be employed – in severe cases the instigator may lose their position.

Remember: In cases such as these, you are not weak. More often than not the bully is the weak one, often picking up on the strengths and good points of your personality and choosing to negatively impact upon them. By dealing with workplace bullies in a proactive way you are an even stronger person and although these situations are tough to deal with at the time can usually turn into positive experiences which can ultimately lend you more strength of character.

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
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