Stop Workplace Bullying

May 17, 2021
Bullying | Hana Zawodny

You Don’t Have To Accept Bullying In The Workplace

For those of us who experienced or witnessed bullying at school, it can be a relief to step out into the world and put it behind us.

But unfortunately, bullying doesn’t always wrap up when people grow up.

Not only does workplace bullying happen, it is surprisingly common. Some research suggests that nearly 50% of people have been affected by bullying at work.

Being the target of bullying can be disempowering and damaging. But there are ways to stand up and refuse to accept certain behaviours. It all starts with having the right mindset.

Let’s explore what workplace bullying looks like and how our mindset can help change our reaction to it.

What Does Workplace Bullying Look Like?

Worksafe NZ defines bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm.”

More than just a one-off occurrence, bullying behaviour happens again and again. It can include things like intimidation, threats, humiliation or victimisation. Sometimes, bullying can fall into the category of harassment or discrimination, but not always.

Although it’s more common for bullying to come from bosses or supervisors (61% of the time), it can happen between colleagues or even come from clients or customers at a workplace.

Bullying in the workplace can be blatant or subtle, but the result is always the same. The target can become anxious and depressed, experience low self-esteem and self-doubt, and even develop stress-related symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, and insomnia.

Here are some examples of workplace bullying:

  • someone purposely giving you incorrect information (or excluding information) about your work to ensure you fail
  • repeated denial for time off with no good reason
  • threats, humiliation, or other verbal abuse
  • excessive negative performance monitoring
  • gossip, jokes, or other verbal abuse
  • social exclusion
  • invasion of privacy
  • taking credit for or stealing your ideas repeatedly
  • aggressive communication such as yelling, hostility, aggressive body language, or angry emails
  • constant unwarranted criticism without adequate guidance and support

Your Mindset And Bullying In The Workplace

How often have you watched a teen high-school movie and seen the bully get away with their behaviour merely because the target was too afraid to stand up for themselves?

When it first happens, we are often so shell-shocked that we don’t take action, or we assume that it was a once-off and hope it won’t happen again. This is our first crucial mistake. We need to be able to identify these situations and behaviours and understand that it’s okay to say no to them.

Having the right mindset means setting your own tolerance parameters and demonstrating that bullying behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by you.

Bullies get away with acting inappropriately simply because the environment they are in and the people surrounding them allow it.

Even if we have little to no control over the way other people behave, we have complete control over our response.

Our Response To Workplace Bullying

Research into bullying amongst children and teens reveals that having a resilient mindset can significantly reduce the amount of damage bullying does. Instead of feeling like a victim and taking the attacks personally, a strong mindset helps you take constructive action to protect yourself and others.

“Changing students’ mindsets towards the act of being bullied – by not taking it personally and not blowing the badness of many forms of bullying out of proportion – inoculated students from cyber-bullying, verbal harassment, social isolation and physical aggression, significantly reducing the intensity of students’ emotional responses.”

This advice does not only apply to students. When you adopt a growth mindset, you accept that nothing is permanent and can more easily comprehend that the bullying doesn’t reflect who you are anyway – rather it’s about who your bully is and their inability to interact in more constructive ways.

How To Handle A Workplace Bully

Once you have identified bullying behaviour in the workplace, respond immediately.

Bullies aren’t used to being confronted. This is what gives them the green light to keep acting the way they do. When you understand your boundaries and can identify that someone is a bully, squash it in the moment without resorting to retaliation or bullying in return.

Reflect your self-value in your body language by standing up tall with your nose up and shoulders back. Speak calmly and confidently and lay the boundaries.

If the situation continues or you feel unable to deal with it alone, there are plenty of ways to approach it, such as documenting the behaviour, gathering physical evidence such as emails or notes, talking to your manager or another support person, gathering evidence, and reporting the bully.

Worksafe NZ has some valuable resources available on their website.

Adopting A Resilience Mindset

Bullying is never acceptable in any situation, but it can sometimes be hard to reach a resolution, particularly if the workplace has turned a blind eye to the behaviour for some time.

One of the best ways to effectively handle bullying is by adapting your response by cultivating a mindset of growth and resilience. The right mindset not only reduces the impacts of the bullying, but it can empower you to stand up to a bully by refusing to tolerate their behaviour.

If you would like to cultivate your own resilience mindset but aren’t sure where to start, then book a time to chat with me today. Together, we can build it.

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