Workplace Bullying

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying is a repeated and systematic pattern of behaviour directed towards an employee by another person, such as the individual’s supervisor, co-worker or group of co-workers, that is unwelcome and unsolicited; that the individual finds offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening; and that a reasonable person would also find offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

How can Bullying affect me?

A person exposed to workplace bullying can experience a range of negative emotional, psychological and physical effects including:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • loss of self-esteem and self-confidence
  • withdrawal and isolation
  • poor concentration
  • loss or deterioration of personal relationships
  • sleep disturbance
  • headaches
  •  nausea

Surviving Bullying – What can I do?

Talk about it

  • Discuss the harassment with a trusted friend or family member
  • Seek professional counselling or join a support group (in person or online)
  • Maintain your positive relationships and friendships and try not to take anger and frustration out on friends and family

Keep cool, stay professional

  • Remember you can’t change other people, only your reactions to them
  • Practice slow deep-breathing exercises and learn progressive muscle relaxation techniques. This will enhance your control over the physical signs of stress and tension and help you to stay calm during encounters with the bully, as well as helping you to relax afterward
  • Learning calming techniques will also help you to concentrate on work tasks while the bully is around and help you avoid making mistakes
  • Be aware of your non-verbal behaviour and try to control outward signs of stress and distress while dealing with the bully (for example: biting nails, touching hair, excessive fidgeting, shaking)

Find activities to release your anger and stress and to occupy your mind

  • These activities can include such things as physical exercise, meditation, listening to music, social interaction, keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings, role playing with a trusted friend what you would like to say to the bully if it were possible (including allowing yourself to cry if you feel like it)
  • Try to schedule activities to fill up any spare hours of your day to avoid unstructured time where you may dwell on negative thoughts
  • Record, in as much detail as you can an imaginary scene or ‘safe place’ that you find particularly calming. Visualise the scene to distract yourself from negative thoughts and feelings as they arise, and to help you relax

Reinforce your self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Remind yourself every day that you are coping
  • Don’t be angry at yourself for being upset
  • Gather positive workplace feedback/results/reports, inspiring sayings, supportive letters/cards etc, from friends and family and put them where you can see them
  • Make a list of your skills, talents, and achievements and refer to it regularly

Protect your physical health and wellbeing

  • Try to maintain a normal routine with regular sleep, healthy eating habits and regular physical activity
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol or other drugs to cope

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