You probably thought that as soon as you leave high school, you would never have to deal with bullies again. Well, as great as that sounds, this is unfortunately not the case. If you have ever experienced bullying at work, you can tell that people who bully others, probably were bullies in school and never outgrew this behaviour.
According to a UK study, 29% of people have been victims of workplace bullying, whereby an additional 30% have actually witnessed bullying at work.
It’s important for people to recognise that whether you’re an adult or not, bullying can truly harm an individual’s mental state. Another study shows that bullying may actually be linked to long-term health issues in the workplace, as it increases long-term sick leave and prescriptions for antidepressants.
Many people who are being bullied in the workplace, sometimes don’t even realise or recognise it as bullying. Here are some of the signs that you’re being bullied at work:
1. You’re being excluded
Whether it’s concerning a project or a work outing, you always seem to be the last person to find out about an important update. You’re intentionally being excluded from meetings or people intentionally withhold information or important details from you so that you underperform or miss important deadlines.
Workplace bullies (whether it’s your manager or a colleague) intentionally disregard your opinions or ignore your feelings. Some go as far as telling others not to socialise or interact with you, which might lead you to feel quite isolated, even in the midst of a group of people.
2. You’re constantly yelled at
When you’re publicly harassed or constantly yelled at by an individual at work, this is a sign of bullying. The keyword here is constantly. Sometimes you might be working together with someone who is under a lot of pressure themselves. And due to this pressure, they might end up yelling (or raising their voice) at you, out of frustration – Let’s be honest, we all do it sometimes.
Normally, someone who snapped or didn’t intend to yell will definitely apologise. However, workplace bullies (which can be your manager or colleague) don’t. And beside them not apologising this unpleasant behaviour is repeated constantly.
3. Your workload is unrealistic
When your workload is unrealistic. You are often asked to fulfil a huge amount of work in a short period of time. Meaning that you’re not given realistic deadlines for the amount of work or tasks that need to be done. And yes, in every workplace an emergency project might occur. However, when this seems to be the norm, it’s a sign of bullying. Besides that, it’s not healthy as it will leave you overworked and burned out.
4. Your work is constantly criticised – unfairly
Have you worked with someone, who is never happy with your work? Whatever you do for them is just not good enough! Your work is constantly criticized, and there is not one day that they will acknowledge or recognise your hard work. Even if there is no comment to give on your work, instead of showing appreciation they just have to make the slightest comment about it.
For example, “You forgot to put a dot behind the sentence” or “It looks fine, but I would never do it like this”. Also, others seem to be receiving mercy for making some mistakes here and there, however, your mistakes definitely do not go unpunished.
5. People steal your ideas
You had a great idea and decided to tell your colleague and before you knew it, they presented your idea as if it was theirs. Hey, maybe your colleague was so excited about this idea you had, that they just had to share it… However, if you share your idea or your work and someone, whether your manager or colleague, constantly fails to give you the credit for it, it’s called bullying… and stealing.
What’s happening is that this individual is using your efforts and work to advance themselves in the workplace. While you are cracking your brains and doing all the work, they purposely copy and steal to get the credit for something they did not do – which of course is wrong!
Other signs of workplace bullying:
- Verbal abuse by manager or colleagues
- Your work is publicly diminished
- Your progress and career development is disregarded
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- People spreading rumours about you
- You receive threats in relation to job security
What to do if you’re a victim of workplace bullying?
If you’re being bullied at work, first things first, do not be ashamed about this. It is not your fault. People do whatever they do, to make them feel better about themselves, even if it means harming other people. Here are a few things you should do when experiences bullying in the workplace:
- Keep a logbook: write down and keep track of all the incidents you’ve encountered. If possible be as specific as possible, by even noting down the date, time, specific location, what was said and what was done.
- Take action: speak to your HR manager (or your manager if they are not the bully). Seek to find counsel and support from someone who has some authority over the bully.
- Develop a support system: look for a mentor or career coach. Someone whom you can confide in and share these experiences with. Do not keep whatever is happening to yourself, as long-term exposure to workplace bullying can have a negative effect on your personal life and mental health. Often times, just talking about it does the healing.
- Move on: sometimes moving on and looking for a new job opportunity might be the best thing to do. In some workplaces, office bullies have been thriving for years. Also, you might just have to admit that you’re working in a toxic environment. The best thing to do is pack your bags and leave – This does not mean that the bully wins. YOU WIN, because you decided to stand up for yourself, your health and happiness at work.
Have you experienced bullying at work? What did you do? Leave a comment and share your experience with us.