Dealing with workplace bullying

Rauf Fadzillah
Jun 22


More than being a simple (internal) problem, if you're not careful about how you handle the issue of workplace bullying, you may just find your organisation in violation of the Employment Act. It should, therefore, be taken very seriously.

Being abused and mistreated by immature, obnoxious, rude or crafty bullies and backbiters may seem like something confined to the schoolyard, however, teasing, intimidation, emotional/mental and even physical abuse can (unfortunately) be found in the world of adults.

There's a fine line between workplace bullying and harassment and instead of dismissing it as 'just the way things are around here', as miscommunications/misunderstandings or a case of someone being too overly-sensitive, you'd do well to recognise it as a real thing.

If you find yourself consistently facing bad treatment at work, regardless of whether they are superiors or co-workers and if that treatment is making you dread going to work, listen to that voice in your head. You are a victim.
Even if you are a victim, however, this doesn't mean that you need to develop a victim's mindset. Take action now!

Recognise that there are many ways in which you can be abused. Your superior/manager could constantly be yelling at you, insulting you and bringing up previous mistakes...

It could be that teammate who gossips about you behind your back, spreading malicious rumours about you or belittling your achievements/taking credit for your work. Bullying can be subtle or overt and there are many types of workplace bullies, some of which are a little trickier to deal with than others, given how cunning, sly and two-faced they can be and how they can make it a huge point to outwit you at every turn.

Once you've recognised the situation and perpetrators, you'll be better equipped to try and find a solution or at least manage your predicament in the best way possible.

Here are some ways in which you can deal with workplace bullying:

Keep calm

Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoic philosopher said that 'we suffer more in imagination than in reality'. When faced with workplace bullying, sometimes the best solution can simply be to control your reaction. Controlling the situation can really just boil down how much you can take and if you do not react the way your bully wants you to, you will be able to show that you are not affected. Staying calm and being resilient can make it easier for you to think logically/rationally in order to completely rid yourself of the situation and may even cause your abuser to stop/give up on bullying you. Staying calm can help you come up with adequate responses to make your bully back off.

Gather up some support

Safety in numbers can help you get through this. It’s quite unlikely that everyone in the office hates your guts. You should be able to gather some (or at least one) friendly face. Confide in the co-workers and superiors who are on your side or those that just generally want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in the workplace. Tell them about what you are going through and listen to advise and solutions they can offer. They may have been through the exact same thing as you, they may know your bully personally (and be able to deal with him/her) or may simply have been in the organisation long enough to know how to deal with what you are going through.

Jot down notes of the incidents

If anyone heard or saw you getting bullied, jot down their names along with when and where the incident/incidents happened. Try to be as concise as possible. Include what the bully said/did and even how it made you feel. Write down as much detail as you can as this can be used as evidence and make it easier for you to lodge an official report. At the very least, writing down bullying incidents can help you understand how to solve the situation yourself or compare notes with others in the office who share in your predicament.

Report the bullying

You may doubt yourself. You may feel that you are too small or new to report these incidents to someone who can take action. You may be afraid of what your bully might do if you report him/her. You may be afraid of being stigmatised and you may just be afraid that you won't be believed. Know this. If the situation you are facing is eating into your confidence and productivity and if you've exhausted every other solution, it is your duty to report it. Do it for yourself and your health/safety but also do it for your organisation. Your employer has the responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment for you to work and do whatever they can to keep the orgnisation's company culture non-toxic.

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