Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

I hesitate to write this article for the reason that starting your first full time job should be an exciting and positive experience, but in the spirit of being prepared it feels like something that needs to be talked about.  

Being treated, or spoken to in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable at work is extremely unpleasant and can turn your working week into a weekly nightmare.  The effects of ill-treatment can make Fridays feel like forever away, and Sunday night a time of dread.  Feeling uncomfortable with the way someone at work is treating you can disrupt your sleep, your health and your mental wellbeing and is not something that should be tolerated in any business.

By now you will likely have noticed that I have not mentioned the ‘B’ word.  There is a reason for this.  The way that someone behaves towards you, or speaks to you can only be classified as bullying if they are aware that you feel uncomfortable with it.  Herein lies the problem.  If we feel uncomfortable by the way someone treats us it can be incredibly difficult to actually tell them that.  We can feel isolated and alone and fearful of raising the issue with HR in case it makes things worse.  However, if the person is not aware that you feel uncomfortable with their treatment of you, technically they are not bullying you, because they may not realise the effect they are having.  

There is a solution however. Speaking to someone you trust, someone who is able to talk to whoever is making you feel uncomfortable and who is adept at communicating in a diplomatic and assertive style can stop the discomfort before it escalates. The conversation with the person you feel uncomfortable with can be orchestrated by the trusted colleague and can be hypothetical – along the lines of “if you were to behave towards / speak to this person in this way, they could interpret that as bullying”. That way the issue can be gently raised and the person given the opportunity to adjust their approach to you without any difficult ‘face off’ situations.  Hopefully that will resolve the situation, and if it fails to, your HR procedure is there as a last resort. Good luck!

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