Depending on who you believe between 40% (CBC & ILO) and 75%(Forbes) of all workers have been affected by bullying on the job. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance that you are one of them. In this post I am going to provide you 5 workplace tested ways to deal with workplace bullies. If you’re bullied at work or have bullies at your workplace, read on. Since the rules that govern workplace bullying and harassment are different in each jurisdiction some of these may apply slightly differently (in Ontario the law provides certain requirements for employers and certain rights for the victims of bullying).
Bullied at Work?
Bullying is a pattern of unwanted hurtful behaviour that may present as:
- Belittling a person in front of coworkers
- Posting negative or threatening comments about a person on social media
- Gossiping about a person in order to influence others
- Sabotaging a persons work
- Physical violence or threats of violence
- Pretty much anything you saw in the movie Mean Girls
Obviously, this only scratches the cruel surface of what a workplace bully might do but, no matter how exactly they are bullying, you want them to stop. If the answer was simple you wouldn’t bother reading this blog post and at different times some or all of the five solutions may be more of less helpful. Before we get started, if have been assaulted or threatened go to a safe place and call for help. While items in this list may help your safety needs to come first.
What to do about workplace bullying?
- Keep notes
- Tell them to stop
- Read your company’s harassment policy
- Report the behaviour
- Ask for a mediation
Note keeping will not solve the issue, but it will help you track specific incidents where you perceive bullying. In your notes keep track of what happened, when it happened and who witnessed it. Taking notes has two main results: it provides specific examples to bring up when you are discussing the bullying, or it allows you to see that the bullying was not as you perceived it. Sometimes, upon reflection, you may see that the behaviour was not bullying, as is sometimes the case when workers are performance managed and have complaints with their boss. Other times you may see that the behaviour is so outrageous that only upon looking at it out of the heat of the moment you realize how bad it is.
I know it is easier said than done. Since bullying is unwanted behaviour, it is important to clearly communicate that the behaviour is unwanted. If you need help you can always ask coworker, union representative, human resources professional or a supervisor to come with you. As a union representative, I was even asked by non union workers to provide this support. Everyone in the workplace benefits from stopping bullying, so I was only too happy to help out.
This will provide you peace of mind. It is not unusual in large companies to have a different group of people or an outside investigator assigned to workplace bullying complaints. The policy will also tell you what to expect out of the complaints process. In Ontario it is law that people complaining of workplace harassment get a copy of the investigation report that the employer has completed.
Workplace bullying affects an entire workplace. It is serious business, and employers don’t want their employees to experience or perpetrate workplace bullying anymore than you want to experience it. By filing a workplace bullying complaint you will not be seen as a problem employee; you will be seen as some one that doesn’t want to be bullied at work, and you are protected (in Ontario you are protected against employer reprisal by the Occupational Health and Safety Act)
Most people bullied at work or anywhere else just want the bullying to stop. After dealing with harassment complaints for a decade the most common reason for people not reporting or delaying reporting is that they didn’t want the bully to lose their job or provoke them with discipline. In many cases the bully was unaware of the impact that their actions were having on the victim. Workplace Mediation provides a safe space for both the bully and the bullied to share their perspectives and transform their relationship so everyone can get on with the work of the workplace that needs to be done.
Did these tips stop workplace bullying for you?
If these tips worked and stopped you being bullied at work or if you had another strategy work out, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or email me directly dave[at]wakelymediation.com.
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