How to deal with bullying in the workplace


Being bullied can make you feel very isolated, especially at work. The Workplace Bullying Institute tells us that 15% of people in a working environment are considered aggressive and 6% as abusive! There is no excuse for bullying and that’s why we’ve created these simple stages on how you should act when faced with a ‘bully.’

Understand what bullying is

Bullying isn’t always face-to-face and other methods such as online bullying are becoming a lot more prominent; the following points explore the primary features of bullying:

  • Exclusion or victimisation (feeling personally attacked by people’s actions/words)
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • Unwelcome sexual advances – touching/standing too close
  • Making threats or comments about job security (without foundation)
  • Name-calling/disrespectful comments
  • Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading them with work and constant criticism
  • Preventing an individual’s progression by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities
  • Spreading malicious rumours

Effects of bullying

If you’re being bullied, it can have a catastrophic effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. You may experience:

  • Having trouble sleeping/ feeling nauseous about going to work
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling angry and frustrated at being unable to cope
  • Obsessing over work when you’re off
  • Becoming frightened and demotivated about going to work
  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased blood pressure and other stress symptoms
  • Illness, absence from work and even wanting to resign
  • Decrease in job performance

Acting on the bullying

  • You could confront the bully, tell them what they’re doing is distressing and that you want them to stop (they may be unaware of the effect of their actions)
  • Do not escalate the situation by getting into an argument with the bully
  • Ask someone to accompany you so that they can witness what happens/witness the bullying
  • Request a meeting with your manager/HR – explain the situation and let them deal with it appropriately
  • Seek advice from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or ACAS helpline

Moving forward

You need to make moving on from the situation a priority. You need to be happy as a person in order to perform well at work and mulling over what happened in the past won’t help.

  • Take a break – in some instances a break away once the problem has been dealt with will give you the opportunity to look after yourself and ensure that you’re relaxed when you return to work.
  • Do activities outside of work – take up some hobbies: read a few books, socialise with friends or take up a sport.
  • Speak to your GP – if you’re having trouble dealing with the situation then seeking some professional help can support you through the process.
  • Change jobs – even if the bullying stops you might find that a fresh start is what you need to get away from the past; see this as an opportunity to progress in your career.

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