Bullying is something we often associate with schoolyards. Sadly, bullying isn’t just something that happens at school. It can creep into spaces where we least expect it, one of them being our workplaces. Workplace bullying is harmful as it creates a stressful work environment. It can be in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct or behaviors, and work interference.
Though often overlooked, it is a widespread issue affecting numerous individuals and organizations. In this article, we will go over several of the ways that you can deal with a workplace bully before you ask for employment law advice.
1 – Try to develop coping techniques
To go through the process of dealing with a bully, it can take time. You have to do things officially which means that you will likely be dealing with things in the meantime. It is a good idea to find ways to cope while the process works itself out.
Start by trying to build emotional resilience. Emotional resilience helps you navigate stressful situations without becoming overwhelmed. Start with understanding your emotions, practicing mindfulness, and looking for positive aspects even in tough situations.
You should also try to talk directly to your bully about it. Practice being clear, calm, and concise. Assertive communication can help establish your rights without infringing upon others’. Remember, it’s not about winning an argument, but about making sure your voice is heard.
2 – Documenting incidents
When you are dealing with workplace bullying, maintaining a detailed record of each bullying incident is a proactive and essential step. This documentation can provide proof of the bullying behavior, particularly when patterns emerge over time.
It could also offer crucial evidence if you decide to escalate the issue to your supervisor, Human Resources, or even if legal action becomes necessary. Here are some of the crucial records you will need:
- Timing: Record the details as soon as possible after the incident occurs to ensure the information is fresh and accurate.
- Specifics: Include the date, time, and location of each incident.
- Description: Write a detailed account of what happened. Describe the events leading up to the incident, the behavior exhibited by the bully, any words or phrases used, and how the incident concluded.
- Witnesses: Note any individuals who were present and could potentially serve as witnesses. Their accounts might be useful in substantiating your claims.
3 – Blow the whistle
When internal mechanisms within the organization fail to address bullying, or if the bullying is systemic and involves the complicity of management, it may be necessary to seek external help. This could involve reaching out to a variety of bodies depending on the nature and severity of the bullying, as well as the industry in which it occurs.
Many industries have regulatory bodies that oversee the conduct of organizations within that industry. If your organization is ignoring or endorsing bullying, reporting this behavior to the industry regulator may result in an investigation and some potential sanctions against the organization.