Dealing with workplace bullying
A few years ago when I was still new in HR practise and knew nothing about karate, I worked in a certain company with this lady whose sole purpose in this life was to make my life impossible.
She used every opportunity to frustrate my efforts. Nothing I did was good enough. She would shut down any ideas I had even before I could finish the sentence. I was obviously inexperienced, but not stupid. She would shout and threaten me all the time and so I tried as much as possible to stay clear of her. I felt like she was God’s punishment to me for my many sins!
For the next over three months, I put up with the abuse and not once told my boss. But then one afternoon, while having a normal work conversation, as I started to speak, she shut me down and began shouting. She threatened to beat me up but this time, I wasn’t having it. I was done with her immaturity. What ensued in the office afterwards is a story for another day but that was the last time she ever raised her voice at me. And NO, it never got physical. I then reported myself to the boss, lest he hear it from other people. The next time we met as colleagues in a different company, we were besties, she would literally pour tea for me.
Workplace bullying takes many forms, it could be physical, emotional, verbal or sexual. However, being warned, fired, demoted or punished by your employer does not amount to bullying if they are done rightfully and in good faith. It is the job of every employer to provide a conducive working environment for it’s employees. Every company should also have a clear policy on bullying and ensure it is communicated to the staff.
As an employee, you should report every form of bullying to the HR Office and follow up to ensure action is taken. Secondly, you need to learn to speak up, talk to someone you trust about it, confront the bully and make it very clear to them that what they are doing to you is not right. Stand up for yourself because sometimes if you don’t, no one else will.
It is one thing to be respectful but it’s another to allow yourself to be walked all over by others. You need draw the line between what’s acceptable to you and what’s not. Avoid any form of physical violence at the workplace. Respect is earned but sometimes I believe you need to demand it from some people. So be brave and stand up against workplace bullying!!!