Here’s how to identify and tackle workplace bullying, a growing pandemic of forever increasingly competitive work cultures.
Workplace bullying means directly or indirectly inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more employees. It is further defined as intimidating and repeated written, verbal, or physical behaviour towards someone in a professional space that creates an uncomfortable professional environment.
Bullying at work often involves mockery, social elimination, threat, invalid criticism, insulting gestures, false allegations, physical or racial harassment and public humiliation. The most important point to keep in mind is that bullying and harassment at workplace terribly affect the health, well-being and performance of the employees.
It is hard to see open workplace bullying if you are a boss as ultimate objective of a workplace bully is of course control and power. Generally, bully targets dedicated employees as they represent a threat to their position. So, not keeping an eye on bullying can cripple your organisation.
How to identify bullies at workplace?
It is essential for any organisation to keep a check on bullying and prevent its employees from getting ill-treated by bullies. Here are some ways with which you can easily identify individuals who bully:
- While working with various people in a team, you will understand you’re working with a bully when she/he picks out your mistakes and keep bringing them to your attention all the time. To make matters worse, they will gossip about you, will narrate lies to your co-workers to defame your reputation and even undermine and sabotage your work.
- Examine the culture of your organisation as there are chances of bullying in a highly competitive environment as top management may have a direct influence on such things if bullies are promoted or have choice assignments. It provides them an opportunity to go ahead.
- Observing behaviour of victim is an easy way to identify bullying as you can notice a change in behaviour of the targeted victim. Keep a watch on targeted victims when they feel intimidated to attend certain meetings, avoid eating in the lunchroom depending upon the presence of bully there.
- Besides these obvious signs, a victim might also take a pause before heading to any company functions and not because they are shy or retiring. Just noticing a victim’s interaction with their co-workers, you can identify the one who is bullying them. One of the important sign of bullying is also being left out of or being cut off from important communication circles.
How to deal with bullying?
- It is important to confront bullies. Explain and describe their behaviour to them, things which you have noticed and they exhibit instead of editorialising or giving opinions. Don’t say ‘you’re mean and nasty to me’ as such statements are more emotional than pragmatic. Do mention in simple and clear words how their actions affect you, even if it is regarding your personal space, actions such as regularly entering your cubicle, leaning over your shoulder and reading your personal correspondence.
- Everyone is entitled to a bit of privacy at work. Constant bullying may force you to be overly secretive and confidential. You might feel like you need to hide what you are working on or have to change the computer passwords and tabs constantly, resulting in wastage of time. So, instead of being constantly insecure, talk and explain to the bully exactly how their behaviour is impacting your work negatively.
- Being constantly micro-managed and criticised by the bully makes you feel like your decisions are not being trusted and you can begin to doubt yourself. As a result, your decision making and management abilities might get hit. So, it is important to believe in yourself and your skills, stay strong at every step of the experience.
- It is important to be assertive and clear while confronting the bully about you not being ok being ill-treated at work. Let them know that you will not tolerate such behaviours and actions in the future.
It is always better to voice your issues in workspace instead of letting the bullying and harassment affect your mental and physical health and well-being. If not dealt with timely, bullying can start to damage your performance and the performance of the organisation as a whole.
*Disclaimer: This article has been contributed by Malini Saba, Founder, Saba Industries and Saba Family Foundation. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Asian Age and The Asian Age does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.