While we associate bullying with school shenanigans, the reality is that a number of adults experience workplace bullying. Bullies are scary, cause embarrassments, and are very often tolerated in the workplace. They are tolerated because nobody wants to deal with them, face conflicts, or deal with the discomfort associated with confronting bullies.

Bullying in the workplace could come from co-workers or supervisors and could take any of the following forms: insults, rudeness or intentional embarrassment, spreading rumours, unwarranted personal or professional criticism, making staff members perform demeaning, degrading or pointless tasks, sexual harassment or hindering promotions or other professional development

Here are a few tips on how to handle bullying at the workplace:

  1. If you think you are being bullied at work, check yourself. Be sure that you are not doing anything to encourage the bully. You are most likely doing nothing to provoke the bully but to determine the best way to handle the situation, it’s best to start from yourself to be sure you are not triggering the actions. Also, take note to see if it’s a one-time occurrence or it’s a reoccurring action.
  1. Most people find it difficult to speak up when they are being bullied which is understandable, especially if the said bully is in a position of power, such as a boss. This is because they feel that speaking up could put their source of livelihood at stake. Long-term bullying can hurt your health and performance over time. In order to continue to function properly, make sure you take care of yourself and come up with a plan of action on how to avoid the bully and defuse any tense situations.
  1. Keep a journal to document every time the bullying happens. Write down where it happened, when it happened, who was there, and give as many details on what exactly happened and why it happened. Also, keep emails and chats that you can use later as evidence to show what exactly you are referring to if you decide to talk to someone about it later.
  1. Tell the bully exactly how their bullying affects your work. Sometimes, the person in question may not have realised how badly you’ve reacted to their behaviour and you might not have to escalate the issue any further.
  1. If you are not comfortable confronting the person in question then talk to your boss. If your boss is the bully, then talk to your HR about the situation. When talking to anyone about the situation, avoid playing the blame game. Clearly state clearly how the situation affects you and your job and come up with ways you plan to address the issue.
  1. It’s difficult not to take bullying personally but try not to. Bullies often act from a place of insecurity and a need to have control. Put emotional boundaries in place, that keep you from reacting or feeling bad about yourself when bullying occurs.
  1. If you have tried everything to address and stop the bullying and it’s not working, then you might want to consider seeking out other options such as changing departments or leaving the company altogether.

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