Do you regularly feel intimidated, dread to work near a particular co-worker, or you’re yelled at, insulted and put down? Does a co-worker steal your credit and talk over you in meetings? If yes, then you are a clear victim of office bullying.
It used to be a dreaded experience for Muzammil Khan to prepare herself for work every single day. Not because she was unable to handle the work pressure but due to the presence of a few ‘nosy’ people that made her life ‘hell’ at work. Sadly, the bullying stopped for her when she resigned, stating the reason to be office bullying. Similarly Psychotherapist Surbi Soni came across a case which was way beyond anyone could think of. She was once approached by a patient named Sonia Mehtani (name changed) who would lock herself at a room just because she thought her bully co-workers could come down to her house, talking ill about her. Reason being; she was constantly being picked at office, be a victim of gossips, some of her co-workers took advantage of her calm nature and take credit of the hard work done by her.
Dr Soni, while discussing about his case, said, “She was at such a stage where she felt intimidated the moment she stepped inside her office. It was a clear example of depression as she would become quiet around people, look for a place to hide or runaway, become scared when discussed about workplace, have sleep-deprived nights with the fear of returning back to office, stammer and would also show diverse symptoms of locking herself in the room.”
Workplace bullying is a health hazard
Workplace bullying is behaviour, often repeated, by one or more employees, that humiliates, victimises, undermines or threatens another employee or employees, and thereby creates a work related risk to personal health or safety: The following may be considered bullying, as per Psychologist Dr Poojashivam Jaitely from Moolchand Medcity.
• Usage of offensive language, inappropriate comments and verbal abuse
• Isolating a particular employee
• Giving meaningless tasks not related to job
• Overwork, giving employees impossible assignments
• Undermining work performance, deliberately withholding information that is necessary for effective work performance, supplying incorrect information or inadequate training
• Deliberately changing work rosters to inconvenience particular employees
• Constant intensive surveillance or monitoring
• Constant and unjustified criticism of a worker’s performance or abilities
• Imposing restrictive and petty work rules
• Unreasonable administrative sanctions, such as undue delay in processing applications for training, leave or payment of wages
• Giving workers no say about how the job is done
• Open or implied threats of sack or disciplinary action
Effects on individuals
When you are bullied, your life may be a living hell, showing adverse signs in your health and behaviour. We list down a few effects on individuals that often face office bullying:
• You have trouble sleeping or struggle with nausea and vomiting because you’re scared to go to work
• Your family gets frustrated because of how much you talk and obsess about work problems
• You spend days off worrying about going back to work
• Your doctor notices health problems like blood pressure and other stress concerns
• You feel guilty about having provoked your workplace troubles
Combating these blues
People often mistake the remedy to this ill-practice to be a resignation. Being picked at your workplace is also a very common syndrome where people often take drastic steps, which are irreversible. Though, psychologists feel that one should face this situation with courage and a little intelligence.
Set limits of your toleration: Set a limit in your mind and keep a friend in confidence. Describe the behaviour of the bully to your friend.
Confront the bully
Tell the bully exactly how his behaviour is impacting your work. Tell the bully to watch his/her action else stay away.
Document the bully’s actions: Any time you are feeling bullied or experiencing bullying behaviour, document the date, time and details of the incident. If you eventually seek help from Human Resources, the documentation gives HR information to work with on your behalf. If the bullying occurs in email or correspondence, maintain a hard copy of the trail of emails and file them in a folder in your computer.
Unlike schoolyard bullies, who tend to pick on victims they identify as alone or weak, workplace bullies typically pick on employees they consider threatening to their career. If your presence makes someone else look bad enough they feel the need to take you down, take it as a twisted compliment. You’re good at what you do. You know this. Don’t let them confuse you.