Is it common for someone in the office to intimidate or humiliate you, causing you undue stress? It’s no laughing matter; it’s actually already a form of abuse. If you are a victim of workplace bullying, it is time to stand up to it. Let us clearly define what we need to know and how we can deal with it.
What is Workplace Bullying
Bullying is usually seen as bad behavior or verbal abuse that could psychologically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, isolate and humiliate a person in the workplace. In some instances, bullying also comes in the form of negative physical contact. It usually involves a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that intends to intimidate, offend, and criticize a particular person or a group of people.
In addition, workplace bullying creates a psychological power imbalance between the person doing the act of bullying and their targets, to a point where that person at the receiving end develops a feeling of helplessness. It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.
Types of Workplace Bullies
People in the workplace differ from one another, and with this diversity comes their varying personalities. Hence, there are also different types of bullies you may encounter in your workplace. Here are some of them, based on animal categorization:
1. The Screaming Dinosaur
This could be easy to recognize among all types of workplace bullies. Screaming Dinosaurs are loud and obnoxious. They tend to make a public scene and instill fear not only in their target, but also in all their co-workers. This tactic, in turn, terrifies them into speaking up, because of fear that they might be the next one on the bullying list.
2. The Backstabbing Snake
Think of someone whom you think you can rely on, but someone if a coworker is absent, it ruins the credibility, stabbing him in the back and taking credit for the good work.
3. The Critic Owl
If you have a lot of confidence in your work, this one might give you the problem. Critic Owls find every possible mistake in you, and every little flaw will be bigger every time they attack you. These workplace bullies will give you hard time working, because they will always look for things that could kill all the credibility in you.
4. The Manipulative Cat
This is one of the worst workplace bullying types you may encounter. Imagine every day your colleague or boss criticizes your work because they feel you’re not getting the hang of what your job requires. But then you realize that they haven’t given you any instructions on how to do it in the first place. Manipulative Cats will gaslight you while withholding resources; whether those are information, instruction, time, or and even help from others. These then hinder you from being efficient and effective in your work.
5. The Perv Penguin
The creepiest and scariest type, Perv Penguins aren’t simply normal bullies, since they include sexual harassment in their acts. They use body contact and other acts that will give you an uncomfortable feeling. This could result in anxiety and unsafe feelings for you whenever you are in the workplace.
Workplace Bullying Examples
It is sometimes hard to tell if bullying and harassment are happening at the workplace. It can be subtle, however, and one helpful way to identify bullying is to identify if a pattern of misconduct behavior is established. To clearly analyze, here are some examples of workplace bullying:
- Someone is spreading false information and malicious rumors about you and your work.
- Someone keeps dragging you down in every group meeting or discussion.
- Your superior gives you unfair treatment compared to how he treats others.
- Your boss or manager is giving you heavier workload and more difficult tasks than everyone else.
- Colleagues exclude or isolate you from the group or make you feel left out.
- You are given tasks with impossible deadlines that set you up to fail.
- Coworkers withholding necessary information or purposefully giving you the wrong information to hinder you to work efficiently.
- Colleagues making jokes that are obviously offensive to you.
- You receive constant criticism.
- An officemate engages in physical abuse, or any direct physical contact that makes you uncomfortable.
How to Deal with Workplace Bullying
1. Document the action.
If you feel someone did something wrong toward you—bully, threaten, degrade, embarrass, or humiliate you for whatever reason—write the details down. Pieces of information may include date and time of occurrence, names of the bully and witnesses, and your opinion on possible cause of the incident. You may seek your co-workers’ views and record them, too.
2. Talk to the person nicely.
Let the bullies know of their wrongdoing—but don’t confront them. You can do it by asking one to serve as mediator. Tell that their behavior is unwelcome and that you were hurt. Try to keep your cool and composure during the conversation. If possible, ask them about the root cause of their action toward you, understand it, and explain your side.
3. Report the workplace bullying.
You’ve tried to talk to them about their behavior, but similar instances keep on happening again. This time, report the abusive conduct to your immediate boss or any concerned personnel. Wait for the action of the company on this issue of workplace bullying.
4. Review company policies on workplace harassment.
Surprisingly, studies reveal that many bullies and harassers do their act in accordance with a firm’s standard practices. Thus, it’s a wise move to consult the company’s policies and rules regarding the matter. This is to determine the possible violation committed onto you and the next step to do to resolve it.
5. Consider legal action on workplace harassment.
If you think someone’s behavior affects you so much and that it constitutes unlawful harassment under civil laws, then pursue a case against the harasser. Talk to a legal expert and seek advice to settle the workplace harassment case. Just be prepared for any fee that you’ll need to pay for the legal service.
6. Find social support against workplace bullying.
Tell someone about your struggles. A family member or a trusted friend outside your work can encourage you amid your ordeal. Their support will help bring back your confidence and passion for work from overcoming the workplace bully.
7. Seek medical relief.
You may use company resources or hire health experts to check on your condition due to the stress from intimidation. While you may not have bruises, you don’t know that your workplace bully struggles have affected your mental and emotional health.
8. Find your coping mechanism.
If you want to move on despite the stress over the workplace harassment you had, find time to divert your attention toward more meaningful things.
What to Know About Workplace Bullying Laws
Despite the growing recognition of the harmful effects of bullying, many targets of this behavior have little recourse under law. Overall, according to David Yamada of Suffolk University Law School, “Workplace bullying remains the most neglected form of serious worker mistreatment in American employment law.” Although there is no current law against workplace bullying in the United States, it is the company’s general duty to create and establish anti bullying policies in order to provide a safe and healthy workplace for every employee of the company.
Moreover, even though bullying is not against the law, if this is being done inside the workplace, this will result in disciplinary actions provided by the company. In severe case, bullying might be related to age, sex, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, or sexual orientation. Under these scenarios, one needs stronger legal action because these violate federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Safety First: Switch to a Stress-Free Workplace
Workplace bullying could be inevitable. If you can’t take an abusive co-worker any longer, then don’t be afraid to find luck and safety in other companies that ensure a stress-free workplace.
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