Work and Wellbeing · 1 October 2019

How to handle bullying in your office

“It’s common for people in positions of high power to have narcissistic, sociopathic or psychopathic traits to create a mask that hides their underlying ‘shadow’ of insecurities,” says one of the UK’s leading psychologists, Nick Davies. This may be the reason why so many people working in offices around the country today experience bullying that is arguably worse than anything ever experienced in the schoolyard. Testimonials from TopCV have revealed the real issues employees face within the work environment.  

The ruthless characteristics that many CEOs possess are often the driving factors behind their success. However what about the people they hurt clawing their way up the corporate ladder?

Unfortunately, according to a recent report carried out by YouGov, almost 29% of people are bullied at work, causing 36% of victims to quit their role, whilst 46% of victims said it ‘adversely’ affected their performance at work.

So, if you can’t run and tell the teacher anymore – how can grown adults cope with bullying in the workplace?

Never laugh or smile at behaviour you don’t find funny

Do not laugh off an insulting remark at work.

It’s a natural reaction to often laugh off an insulting remark as its an instinctive reflex to water down an insulting comment, especially when you’re in work and expected to act in a professional manner.

While this may be an easy way to mask how such a comment affected you what it subconsciously does, simply put –  is make this type of behaviour acceptable.

” I lost some of my sight due to illness, and it took time for me to adjust to my new disability. Instead of being accommodating, my bosses seemed to deliberately give me tasks they knew I could not do. Did they think it was funny to watch me struggle? “- Julia*

A more effective way to tackle abusive treatment at work is to stay calm and have a very light conversation with the person in question and use softer, less accusatory words like, “I’m confused about why you said this to me in that way”.

Hopefully what this will do is allow them to know that you are sensitive to certain things and give them an opportunity to rectify their behaviour.

Keep an account of the way you’re being treated

Keep a personal account of how you are being treated at work.

Keep records of all situations that make you unhappy as if it leads to a disciplinary case later, you’ll be expected to have collated evidence to prove what has happened.

When I was an intern, I was obliged to come to work on weekends and worked odd hours during the week ‒ I wasn’t even allowed to leave the office for a lunch break.  They threatened they would not renew my contract if I didn’t.- Cian* 

Although, if you choose to do this it’s recommended that you keep this information private. What Davies also suggests is to”recognise if you are being too sensitive or are genuinely being treated differently to everyone else”.

Occasionally as work becomes more pressurised, we can feel like we are being targeted in a malicious way. It’s not uncommon in the corporate world for people to fly off the handle, but it’s important that if the issue persists – to flag it.

Remember it’s not personal… 

Respectively confront the person who is bothering you.

“Bullies will always find a new victim, says Davies.

However, it’s difficult while you are enduring such behaviour to not feel like it is an attack against your character but in reality, it is a reflection of them and their corrupted personality.

His final piece of advice is to ‘speak to them unofficially’, meaning a one-to-one meeting, or ask for a meeting where your concerns can be recorded and then if it’s not resolved, to make an official complaint. But understand this final step is where things will never be the same between you and them again, says Davies.

I constantly felt pressured by my boss to give up my free time to fit in unplanned pieces of work. He would never deny taking on a new client, so he gave me no choice but to work a lot of extra hours. I was afraid I would lose my job if I said no”. – Ramon*

If you are an employer who fears you run a toxic environment – it’s important to recognise that what you are inhabiting is in fact abuse. Conducting an anonymous survey to grasp an understanding of your overall employee wellbeing in the office is a productive step in the right direction.

*Names have been changed to protect peoples anonymity.

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Laura is the Junior Reporter at Real Business and Business Advice. She's the first point of call for any PR, business owner or industry insider looking to tell a story of entrepreneurial inspiration, retell some key advice, or a ground-breaking news story. She is the core ambassador for the brand(s) and can be found attending high profile events and meeting disruptive business owners across London – and beyond.

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