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Bullying in the Workplace

March 6th, 2011 · 1 Comment

From the school yard to the workplace bullying is unfortunately common place in our society. Dealing with Bullies can be an emotionally trying experience at the best of times, and when your livelihood depends on it… the stress from this can become unbearable.

Although I knew workplace bullying existed, and have even experienced it myself, it was not until I really started digging around that it became apparent that not only does it exist, it is very common.

Some of the examples in this article have been sourced from this Bentley Report.

What is a Workplace Bully?

Workplace bullying is described as when an individual or a group uses unreasonable or aggressive behaviour to make a co-worker or employee’s life uncomfortable at work.

How commonplace is Workplace Bullying?

To be quite honest the prevelance of bullying astounded me in all areas that were reported on.

Bullying by industry

Bullying in the Hospitality Industry
In the hospitality industry, where tensions run high at the best of times.. chefs were often reported as being very harsh on waiting staff along with their junior hands in the kitchen, particularly at times of high workload.

Bullying high in the Health Sector
Different roles, responsiblities and cultures present a challenging melting pot of stress and bullying according to reports from the health sector. Apparently the worst victims are the residential/aged care workers that are bullied by doctors, nurses, patients and relatives!

Education Sector – High levels of Bullying Reported
Working in the education sector is tough, however add in bullying from other staff, management, parents and even students and it becomes apparent that there is a lot of work to be done in sorting out this environment. Support staff are also often the victims of bullying as they juggle multiple responsibilities.

When the bully is the boss..

Unfortunately more often than not the bully is someone in a more senior role. This can be an extremely difficult situation to be in if you are not sure who or where to turn for help.

How to cope with a workplace bully

Firstly try to look at the situation from the outside. Is what you are experiencing really workplace bullying? If it is then you need to try to sort it out. The below pointers may help.

  • Take notes and record the times of what is said and why. Use this if you need to – it can back up what you are saying when you are calling out someone.
  • Talk to your manager if possible, if thats not working talk to the next manager higher up.
  • Make contact with an employment lawyer.
  • Confront the Bully and try to find out what is at the heart of the issue – and attempt to deal with it.

There is no easy path when it comes to stamping out bullying in the workplace. We would like to hear your stories and suggestions so please share via the comment form below.

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  • 1 Peer pressured // Mar 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    My experience with bullying began when I first started work at a new company. One of my co-workers who I was first introduced to had been with the company for thirteen years. She seemed friendly enough in the beginning, asking me about myself and including me in workplace chatter and humorous conversation. I didn’t think much of it at first however I was acutely aware that she seemed almost to try too hard – there was something unnatural or insincere about her approach. After a week or two she began saying negative things about my supervisor whom she also reported to. She seemed to be trying to build a case against my superior, telling me about past run ins she’d had and asking my thoughts and whether I had the same opinion. I responded with general comments such as things were going well at the moment, that I was still feeling my way around and getting to know everyone. It would have been tolerable had it stopped there however she wasn’t satisfied. She continued to derail my supervisor and made me feel increasingly as if I would be ostracized if I didn’t “align” myself with her way of thinking. Having been there for many years, she had many close colleagues and seemed to enjoy throwing her weight around where she could. All the while I was keenly aware that her serious lack of respect for my boss was rearing its ugly head nearly everywhere I turned. She would directly avoid dealing with my/her boss and would instead go over her head to deal with the next senior officer. When questioned by my boss she proceeded to yell at her. I witnessed this behaviour first hand and was asked if I would mind filing a formal complaint as a witness to the event. I did and things were quiet for a while but the problem never went away – in fact, she would go out of her way to make mine and my supervisor’s lives difficult. Although I approached my supervisor to see what could be done, she told me it had been that way for years and that there was little we could do about it. It was obvious that her seniority with the company was allowing her to get away with inappropriate behaviour. The only way for me to deal with it was to get away from her, and so I did. I took a position in a completely different department and I’m happy to say I’m now free from her bullying. I’m not proud of the fact that I had to exit the situation without confronting it further however I truly felt that there was no other option.

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