Problems at work: I am being bullied or harassed

Abusive, threatening or humiliating treatment is unacceptable in the workplace, regardless of who the person is. There is a growing awareness of workplace bullying and harassment, but it doesn’t help the person affected unless it is reported and dealt with. Often, being treated this way can rob you of the power to act and may make you feel like you are not worth much anyway. If you feel put down, it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude and self image.

But this is not true. It is important to remember that you are worth more than this, and that you will not continue to allow bad treatment.  

What can you do about these situations?

 

You need to focus on the areas you can actually control as this is where you can make changes. It is difficult to change someone else’s behaviour. But you can alter your own behaviour by avoiding that person, refusing to engage with them and not reacting to situations. You can also report them through the appropriate channels if the problem is serious.

What can you control about the situation you are facing? What is within your power to change?

You have the following options:

·         Talk to the person involved. Ask them about their behaviour and involve a third party as a witness if you are uncomfortable with this. Put it in writing if you like, but make your feelings known. However, this is easier said than done as many of us avoid conflict and painful situations.

·         Don’t respond in kind. You will keep a stronger position if you do not resort to tactics that put you in the same category as the other person. It can actually be more powerful and disarming to be positive and kind to the other person and demonstrate that you are not bothered by them. By reacting, you give them power over you.

·         If you are not sure how serious the situation is, or if you just want to know your options, you can talk to someone else in your HR department. Be careful to make the situation hypothetical so as not to jeopardise your position, especially if the person involved is senior. You can also try talking to friends, Employee Assistance programs, use anonymous phone help-lines or go online for support. It is important to discuss the situation with somebody as you will feel more stressed if you don’t have emotional support.  

·         If the situation is serious, report the person to your direct manager or HR manager. This will involve talking about the details as making a complaint like this can be a serious move, so take any emails, or notes on situations that have happened. You need to be calm and rational and not overly emotional in your approach. Find out whether anyone else has been treated in this same way. It is likely that this person has behaved in the same way before which will help your case. Before you give any details, make sure the conversation will be kept confidential.

·         You always have the option to leave this position or the job entirely. If things are very bad at work, it is better to walk away than continue to be subjected to a situation that will wear you down with stress and anxiety. The majority of work situations are not like this, so move on and you will find somewhere more to your liking. You may need time to evaluate your options and look for different work, but this may be the best option.

 

What are the three steps you will take to address your situation at work? 

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