Putting Down the Work Bullies
Nowadays there’s lots of talk about bullying in the workplace. No matter what your job or who your employer, there’s always a chance that it can happen to you. Bullying is ignited by people who want to establish their superiority, and when a wide range of motivations and emotions get in the way of the normal workday, no organisation is immune from it.
There are lots of proven methods to put bullies back in their place and protect yourself and your own job security.
Who might Bully You at Work?
A person of any gender can bully you at work. Statistics indicate that forty percent of bullies in the workplace are females. As a woman, you are more likely to be bullied by another woman (the data reads 70 percent!).
The bully may be your boss, the vice president of the company or even a co-worker. In most cases, a person in a more elevated position in the organisation’s hierarchy is more likely to be the bully.
Why are You being Bullied at Work?
People who turn to bullying do so in most cases because they have psychological issues. You are probably being bullied because you appear to be emotionally weak and/or you have too much going for you. Your bully enjoys feeling powerful and superior as you silently endure his or her torture. This bully may even have a mental weakness due to some unfortunate incidents or situations in his or her past.
For example, perhaps your tormentor was also bullied in the workplace. The result might be that he or she now aims to make another seemingly weak person feel just as miserable as he or she did in the past. Or perhaps you’re bullied because your bully is envious and feels threatened that you could one day be more successful than he or she is.
This particular bully might have many unfulfilled needs and desires which elicit a lot of anxiety and pressure for him or her. If your bully is a straight guy, he might be bullying you because you rejected his advances towards you. You can also be bullied if your boss or supervisor is a perfection-seeking compulsive person. Such a personality has a habit of constantly insulting others whenever anyone makes even the slightest mistake.
Another reason why you might be being bullied at work is one rooted in discrimination – being a different age or gender, or belonging to a different ethnicity, nationality or religion.
How to Recognise when You’re being Bullied at Work?
It is important to know how to distinguish between a strict individual and a bully. To be bullied is to continually face disrespectful behaviour and mistreatment from an individual. If a person loses his or her temper with you a few times, that’s not bullying. A person may behave disrespectfully because he or she is having a bad day, but that’s not bullying.
First off, focus on how you are being bullied. Is the individual raising his or her voice at you? Are you being constantly manipulated and attacked on a personal level? Is your hard work being intentionally criticised, ignored or discredited? Is your suspected bully trying to take the credit for a job well done by presenting your work as his or her own?
If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, then you are indeed being bullied at your workplace. Males generally bully more clearly in this manner than women do. Women tend to bully by being more veiled in these same actions. However, the impact is similar. As a female, you will certainly understand this subtle manner of bullying.
If you’re still not sure that it’s bullying you’re experiencing, check the signs which might show certain effects from being bullied revealing themselves in your physical condition. You might experience constant headaches, nightmares related to the bully, high blood pressure, hair loss, panic attacks, depression, insomnia and even post-traumatic stress disorder!
Protect Yourself from being Bullied at Work
The first step to protecting yourself from being bullied at work is admitting to yourself that you are being bullied. Don’t blame yourself for it. No one deserves to be treated in such a manner. Your professional efforts should be recognised, appreciated and rewarded. Therefore, you must take an active decision to protect yourself. You must resolve to prevent your valuable skills from being wasted.
Once you have reached this point, prepare yourself mentally to shut out your emotions in the matter. This is because an emotional mind cannot think clearly. You need to be strategic to protect your right to a satisfying professional life. After getting your emotions under control, try to tolerate the bully for another month.
In this time, work as best as you possibly can. Record everything that happens each day at work. Record the way you are bullied, collecting evidence if possible. Also, read carefully through all the policies of the organisation. There should be a clause there that protects an employee’s right to a fair workplace where she or he is not being regularly abused.
Keep this in mind. If you can, try to chat with the bully via text messages or emails to gather these as evidence. In the meantime, talk to your colleagues. See if you can get their support or see if any of them opens up about being bullied too. Create a group for yourselves because workforce laws often protect employees who have been victimised.
If affected group forms, the issue will be taken very seriously. After all, this, submit a formal complaint to the Human Resources department of your organisation with a copy of all the evidence. Be wary that the HR department is part of the organisation, so it may just be biased. If they don’t seem to be on your side, keep up with your work, but start searching for another job.
After you get a new job offer, resign. Seek legal help from a legal advisor. Attempt to expose the bully by suing the organisation. The steps you take could enable future employees to enjoy a healthier, better work environment.
She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen).
Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).