Monday, 16 May 2016

Guest Post: Bullying in the Workplace by Anonymous

For a few weeks now, ever since the Safe Space team asked me to guest post on their wonderful site, I have been sitting here looking at a blank word document over and over again wondering where to start. I knew what I wanted to write about, but something inside me was holding me back and making me feel physically scared to write words onto the page.

You see, what I really want to talk about is bullying in the workplace. Whereas in reality I am too scared to open up the wounds that I have worked so hard on to heal over time.

This in itself makes me sad. No one should feel scared to write about what they want to write about because of a bully or even have to write a post anonymously. Ever. But sadly this is what has happened.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start so I’m starting with a definition.

What is a bully?

Mr Google tells me that a bully is a noun - a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. Or a verb - using superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something. I define a bully as controlling, a coward and possibly quite insecure about themselves. But one thing I don’t believe can ever be defined is how a bully can make you feel inside.

Like school playground bullying, bullying in the work place can take on many different forms, but is classified as any intentional, repeated behaviour from a colleague, supervisor or manager often with the sole purpose of degrading, humiliating, undermining or embarrassing a work colleague. It is heart-breaking to go through and just as emotional watching someone going through the pain it causes.

When we leave school and venture into the adult way of life and work the last thing anyone should worry about is bullying. I always thought that all of that immaturity was left behind at school and people grow up and grow out of bullying I guess, but unfortunately some people seem to actually enjoy tormenting and causing others pain.

Let’s face it. We are never going to like or get along with every single person we meet through our long and winding road of life. That’s life I guess. That’s why I feel it’s important that if you feel that you are being bullied in the workplace or anywhere it’s always important to recognise the signs and understand the difference. Some signs I have experienced or witnessed myself with regards to work place bullying are:

• Shouting or swearing at another member of staff in front of others
• Disrespectful comments and behaviour including name-calling
• Nit-picking at someone’s work or overloading them with an unmanageable amount of work
• Purposefully withholding information needed to perform a job efficiently
• Exclusion or “the silent treatment” making some one feel unwelcome.

Any of these can lead to you bringing your work home with you. By this I mean maybe coming home physically upset or worried. Feeling ill from stress and/or not being able to sleep due to the worry you have about returning to work the next day. You may even blame yourself for the things that are happening or going on which in my experience brings on a whole other feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing that can be completely damaging to a person’s self-confidence and mental health.

In my experience, bullies rely on these feelings whether it be in the school playground or the workplace, but I do feel that workplace bullies have a slightly different agenda to that of the school playground bully.

The workplace bully does not tend to pick on a victim who they identify as alone or weak, but normally an employee who they consider threatening to themselves within that workplace environment and even their career. I have learnt over the years to take this as a kind of compliment. You are good enough at your job and brilliant enough for someone to actually feel threatened by you. Go you! You’re awesome! But that doesn’t make things right and it certainly does not make things better when you are the one being bullied.

When we have a job, we spend possibly eight hours a day if not more in that working environment and with our work colleagues so it is so important to be happy. Working in an environment where you do not want to be day in and day out is not good for you or your mental health.

It is so important that if you are suffering at the hands of a work place bully or any type of bully for that matter that you take steps to take action.

This can include –
• Telling the bully to stop in a calm and collected manner (which is sometimes way easier said than done)
• Talk to your line manager or if that is not possible another manager or HR manager. Even talking to a friend who you trust may put things straight in your mind and help you deal with the problem.
• Keep a record of bullying incidents including dates, times and what happened. A diary of sorts. You could also write down how that incident made you feel etc. This may actually help you take that step to talking to a manager as you can show them exactly what’s happening rather than worrying that they will dismiss your feelings as over reacting or not relevant.
• If you have someone you trust who you work with you could talk to them and ask them to listen out for incidents or anything that they feel is inappropriate or bullying behaviour and can be a support to you when it’s time to seek help about the matter.

It is important to note that workplace bullying does not happen within every workplace. Often companies have a strict no bullying policy just like schools and look out for their employee’s welfare as much as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes those bullies do just creep in through.

Bullying in the workplace can be a very upsetting and stressful situation and it is always advisable to try and stay as calm as possible. I admit myself that sometimes it is hard to have something constantly fired at you and let it just slide right off without a care in the world, but I have learnt that if that’s what it takes to beat a bully then so be it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right.

It is not only important to tackle the problem, but also to look after number one which is you. It is not always easy to do this until the situation is maybe under control, but take some time to go for a walk in the fresh air after work, lose yourself in a fictional world and read, listen to music, cuddle loved ones and friends so tightly that you feel all your worry and stress lift from your body and float away or even write a blog post like this that you find therapeutic as you type away. If you feel it necessary, talk to your doctor or start looking for another job. A new challenge. A new start.

You do you. Be you. Enjoy being you. Never let a bully make you feel worthless or like you don’t belong. Always remember a bully is nobody compared to how awesome you are inside and out!


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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.