Workplace bullying refers to the behavior of mistreating one or more co-workers repeatedly and causing harm to them. The mistreatments often include - aggressive words or actions, humiliation, name-calling, ignorance, and demeaning of the victims’ working ability. Under such a toxic working environment, the victim of bullying will suffer from a constant state of stress, anxiety, and sadness, which will adversely affect his or her physical and mental health.
Most of us are under the impression that only people with higher authority will bully the lower-level employees. However, it can happen in both ways. One key thing to note is that workplace bullying and harassment are not the same thing. Harassment generally refers to behavior that offends a protected characteristic, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability. Sadly, the law does not prohibit bullying as harassment does.
If you are experiencing workplace bullying, here are some measures you can take to help yourself.
1. Don't wait to speak up
The fact is that - bullies tend to target people who are submissive and unlikely to retaliate, thus the most effective way to stop being bullied is to speak up and confront the ill-treatment as soon as it occurs. Tell them straight in the bully’s face that his or her behavior is unjustified and causing a problem to you. Remember to maintain eye contact, stand up straight and use a firm voice when you speak up; avoid showing any signs of nervousness. However, if you miss the opportunity to confront the bully during the early phases, this method may not work as the bully already feels that he or she possesses greater power over you.
2. Record the evidence
If you know that talking directly to the bully does not help at this point, you may try to jot down the details of each bullying incident. To do so, you need to include when and why it happened, who is mistreating you, and in what way they are doing it. Also, be aware if there are any witnesses of the incident; it is helpful to have colleagues who can support your words when you report the bully. Your case is more likely to be taken seriously by higher authorities if your records are detailed.
3. Check the company’s policy
You should start reading through your company’s employee handbook to check if there are any stated rules against workplace bullying, so you know what to do and who you should talk to. However, as there is no legal protection against bullying, some companies may not have anti-bullying policies. If that is the case, you would need to find other ways to help yourself. Be aware that if the bullying has escalated to the level of harassment, you should not hesitate to take the legal procedure.
4. Talk to someone reliable
As you have collected evidence of being mistreated by the bully, you can seek help from the manager or the bully’s higher authority. Tell the person about the incident and how it caused harm by referring to the notes you collected. In most cases, the manager or HR will intervene and send a warning to the bully. Additionally, you can build a stronger network within your company by finding colleagues who can relate to you and will stand by you in times of need. In the case where your boss is the bully, try to talk to their fellow managers whom you can trust for help.
5. Keep yourself healthy
Keep in mind that bullying is not the fault of the victim, but a choice made by the bully. If you find yourself feeling depressed, losing confidence, and suffering from low self-esteem, please get professional help from a psychiatrist. Don't let the situation persist, seek help from others, transfer to another department, or change a job. Spend more time with people that you are comfortable with to get moral support from them.