Workplace bullying is more common than we think.
“Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about Caesar? Hmm? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. Brutus is just as smart as Caesar. People totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar. And when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that’s not what Rome is about. We should totally just stab Caesar!”
This little gem of a speech is a well-known outburst from the movie Mean Girls for you non-Gen-Y females—an iconic film on high school cliques and bullying.
Thankfully, real life doesn’t really mirror high school flicks, but, and this is a big BUT, It turns out bullying follows us straight into adulthood – it’s just a little less obvious. Most of us like to think we’re better than that but, truth be told, workplace bullying is more commonplace than you’d think.
Sadly, the devastating effects of bullying can plague the bully, the bullied and anyone else in the area.
Workplace bullying can take many forms—it can be directed at specific people or related to certain work activities. Making the matter even murkier is the fact that there is no legal definition for bullying. Experts generally describe bullying as involving negative behaviour targeted at an individual, or individuals, repeatedly and persistently over time. ‘Negative behaviour’ includes:
- Ignoring or excluding
- Assigning unachievable tasks
- Spreading malicious rumours or gossip
- Delegating meaningless or unpleasant tasks
- Making belittling remarks
- Undermining co-worker integrity
- Withholding information deliberately
- Undervaluing employees’ contributions
- Degrading others in public
Bullying can cause psychological health problems, such as depression, and physical health problems such as sleep difficulties or stomach pains.
If you are the victim of bullying or have witnessed it in the workplace, know there are ways to deal with it. Remember that silence enables bullying. Start by speaking to someone you feel comfortable with about your concerns. This could be your manager, a co-worker or a union representative. You could describe the behaviour you have been experiencing and get an opinion about whether it is bullying.
Try to resolve the issue informally. This could involve you, with the support of a colleague or manager, approaching the person whom you believe is treating you unfairly. Describe the behaviour, explain how it makes you feel, and politely ask the person to stop.
If that does not work, resort to mediation by a neutral third party. After exhausting any other informal procedures, follow our formal complaints procedure.
So, ladies and gents, take a cue and do your best to rid of bullying when you see it because “There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it” ~ Janis.
Check out our resource page for other work tips and tricks.