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How to Spot Bullying at Work and What to Do About It

By Admin | 21 August 2019 |

Knowing how to spot bullying at work is necessary to avoid becoming a victim. It is also important for bosses and team leaders to identify signs that someone is being bullied. Workplace bullying doesn’t just harm the victim, but it can negatively impact on the whole work environment.  

Unfortunately, bullying is not just confined to school. Bullying behaviour can continue in the workplace in the form of malicious gossip, unwarranted blaming, sending toxic emails, or ostracising someone. Very often, the problem with bullying at work can go on for a long time as the victim may be hesitant to speak up. It can also be difficult for bosses to know that bullying behaviour is happening.

In this article, you will find out what bullying is and what you can do about it if happens to you or a work colleague.

How to Spot Bullying at Work and What to Do About It

What is Bullying?

Unfortunately, there is no legal definition of bullying at work. However, most people agree that bullying involves repeated aggressive or domineering behaviour with the goal of intimidating an individual or individuals.

Bullying in the workplace usually involves abuse of power with the intention to hurt a person emotionally, physically, or mentally. However, this may not always be the case as bullying by peers also happens.

How to Spot Bullying at Work?

Sometimes it can be challenging to know if you are a victim of bullying as it is not easy to spot. For example, there could be a few isolated cases where you feel victimised. Or, you may have a personality conflict with a boss or fellow worker.

A 2017 survey by Career Builder reported on some of the most common forms of bullying. These were:

  • being falsely accused of something you didn’t do
  • being ignored or having your comments dismissed
  • suffering constant criticism from someone superior
  • being the object of gossip
  • being publicly belittled

Other signs of bullying could include making threats about job security or blocking promotions for no apparent reason.

So, bullying is not just having a conflict with a certain individual. It is being subject to a repetitive and constant barrage of a range of threatening or abusive behaviour.

It is clear that bullying can have a severe negative impact on the workplace environment. This is especially true in small businesses where a handful of people are working closely together. Another concern for a small business manager is that exemplary and highly-skilled workers are often the victims of bullying. If a trusted worker was forced to leave due to being bullied, this could affect the company’s productivity.

What to do About Bullying in the Workplace

If you feel that you have become a victim of bullying, then it is time to take action to stop the bullying.

1. Record and document of bullying behaviour

First, it’s important to have accurate documentation of what is occurring. This means keeping a record of what was said and when. You should also take note of any others who may have witnessed the aggressive or threatening behaviour.

If you receive toxic emails or text messages, be sure to store them securely.

This will help you identify a pattern of bullying and you can use this if you need to confront the bully or make a complaint to your HR department.

2. Confide in a trusted friend

It can help if you confide in a friend you can trust. At the very least, you will be able to get some moral support. Your friend can also empower you to set limits on what behaviour is acceptable and what’s not. Also, a trusted friend may help you if and when you need to confront the bully.

3. Confronting a bully

It is your right to stop the bullying behaviour and the best way is to confront the bully. When you decide to do this, always have a third-party present. To confront the bully, it is necessary to try and keep emotions out of it and only deal in facts.

So, explain what behaviour you view as unacceptable and set appropriate limits for future behaviour. At this point, you don’t need to get into a discussion on opinions or let the person minimize or rationalize their actions.

If that doesn’t work, then you may need to take the matter further to your Human Resources department.

For more advice, find out about the 5 ways to survive bullying in the office and what mistakes you should avoid.