Shining a Light on Workplace Bullying: How to Take a Stand


In recognition of Anti-Bullying Week, let's shed some light on the pervasive issue of bullying and explore positive ways to counteract the harm it inflicts. While the term 'bullying' has often been associated with childhood taunts and schoolyard teasing, it has become evident that bullying is not confined to youth and can extend into various adult environments, including the workplace. As awareness of workplace bullying grows, let’s dive into the different facets of bullying and how to respond effectively if we find ourselves on the receiving end of this detrimental behaviour.


Bullying, fundamentally, entails intentional aggressive behaviour directed at an individual with the purpose of causing harm, intimidation, or exerting undue control. Unlike the stereotypical schoolyard bully, workplace bullies often operate within the boundaries of established rules and policies, making it all the more challenging to address their behaviour.


Bullying doesn’t always take the overt form of name-calling, insults, taunting, or physical violence. It can also take on more covert and insidious forms, especially in the workplace. Psychological bullying, for example, involves threats, manipulation, coercion, and intimidation. For instance, a manager might repeatedly threaten an employee with negative consequences, such as job loss, demotion, or harm to their reputation, to compel compliance with unreasonable or unethical demands. This ongoing intimidation can create a toxic and distressing work environment, leaving the targeted employee feeling anxious, stressed, and powerless.


Understanding the different forms of bullying is crucial in taking the first step in addressing workplace bullying, which is to recognise it. Adults may feel reluctant to label their experiences of mistreatment in the workplace, for fear of being labelled as childish or overdramatic. However, it’s essential to trust your instincts and recognise when you are experiencing psychological harm or intimidation.


If you are facing bullying in the workplace, one of the most helpful things you can do to address this is to document any incidents of aggressive or harmful behaviour. Note down the dates, times, locations, and descriptions of what happened; marking down the names of any witnesses where possible. This will become very useful if you decide to report the bullying to your Human Resources department.


Workplace bullying is a challenging issue to face, but taking action is crucial for your well-being and professional growth. By recognizing the signs, documenting incidents, and following the appropriate reporting procedures, you can take steps towards addressing the problem. Remember that you are not alone, and there is support available both within and outside the workplace. Your mental and emotional well-being should always be a top priority, and taking steps to address workplace bullying is an essential part of that process.