Bullying in the Workplace
It’s not only school children who get bullied. People of all ages find bullies in all walks of life, including the workplace. Being bullied at a job by co-workers is not normal. How can you tell if you are being bullied?
Here are some signs to look out for:
- Verbal abuse such as insults to your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or just about anything else
- Humiliation in front of other workers or clients
- Lewd behavior such as “mooning” or flipping the middle finger
- Physical abuse or threats of physical abuse
- Damage to computers, vehicles, clothes or equipment so that you cannot get tasks done on time
- Cyber bullying, where threats come through email, text messages or faxes
- Photoshopped images of you in sexually compromising positions sent to other employees
- False letters, emails or other communication that appears to be written by you (but wasn’t written by you) sent to other co-workers, clients or social media websites.
Do not ignore workplace bullying. Bullies usually keep on harassing their victims until they are forced to stop or are fired. Do not bully back. You can get fired for bullying, even if you feel that you were provoked.
Why Can’t Victims Just Quit Their Jobs?
Adult bullying victims do not get the media coverage that child bully victims do. They also may find less sympathy to their plight because they are adults. They may be bluntly told by friends and family members to “tough it out” or “just quit.”
Quitting is not an option for many workers with bills to pay and families to support. Ever since the worldwide economic recession of 2008, finding a job is difficult even for the most qualified of applicants. According to a study done by the Workplace Bullying Institution, the top reasons for victims not leaving a job due to bullying includes:
- Fear of losing the job’s income
- Victim has does nothing wrong to warrant handing in a resignation
- Love of the job
- Hoping the bully will change.
No worker should have to put up with bullying. Fortunately, there are many things workers can do to protect themselves from bullying in the workplace. Victims need to make careful records, confront their bully’s superiors and get any additional help needed.
Make Careful Records
Most workplace bullying victims would rather not think about bullying incidents. However, making a careful record of each bullying incident gives you more ammunition against your tormentor. Keep a separate physical file or computer file to keep all of your records together. Make copies in case your tormentor discovers the file and destroys it.
Each face to face incident should include:
- Date of incident (even your best guess will do)
- Names of any co-workers that saw the incident or who were in the room when the incident occurred
- Exactly what the bully did. Do not embellish. Be truthful.
- Your immediate response to your bully. Even if you did nothing, write that down.
Each online incident should be dated and copied. Copy and paste emails, faxes, text messages, voice mails and even comments on your blog or webpage from your tormentor. If you are not certain if your cyber bully if your workplace bully, copy everything suspicious in case your workplace bully happens to be your cyber bully.
Confront Bully’s Superiors
Find out who your bully’s direct superior is. This is the person you have to complain to. This should be a person who has the power to hire and fire employees. In large companies, this would be the human resource manager. In smaller businesses, this would be the business owner. Bring a hard copy of your file for the superior to look at.
Insist on a private face to face meeting with the bully’s superior. Your bully may be able to overhear you on the phone or look into your emails. Do not tell your bully that you are meeting with his or her superior – no matter how tempting it is.
If there is no one above your bully that can fire him, you need to figure out what organization holds your bully’s credentials. For example, if a lawyer is your bully, then write to the state’s bar association. You can also make a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau.
Do not expect that the situation will be resolved immediately. You will be doubted. The human resources manager or whoever will need time to conduct his or her own investigation into your bully’s behavior.
Get Any Additional Help
If you feel that your life or the lives of your pets or family members are in immediate danger, contact the police or your lawyer immediately. Show them a copy of your file. Even if the police seem to do nothing, just filing a report shows that you are sufficiently worried about your bully’s future behavior.
There are many online advocates for bullying victims of all ages. Contact as many organizations as you can and tell them your story. Follow their advice. Be patient. Bullying incidents take time to resolve. Take some time every day to relax and be with trusted friends. This positive interaction will help temporarily take your mind off your bully and make the time you have to wait for a resolution go faster.