Don't let yourself be intimidated by bullying in the workplace

By Tom O'Neil

Often, bullying victims slowly become isolated from the rest of the team and are not supported by their co-workers. Photo / Thinkstock
Often, bullying victims slowly become isolated from the rest of the team and are not supported by their co-workers. Photo / Thinkstock

Your office phone rings and you can tell from the caller display that it's that person on the line ... Your pulse increases, your face starts to flush and you know that the next couple of minutes are going to be very unpleasant indeed ...

Bullying in the workplace is sadly more common than many of us suspect. A 2011 survey of more than 7,000 female Public Service Association members found that 43 per cent had felt bullied in their current workplace at some point.

From small things like snide comments and inappropriate Facebook posts, through to outright physical violence, bullying can really make your place of work a living nightmare.

Bullying can take many forms, including setting up others to fail, withholding key information, spying on other team members or over-burdening employees with too much work. For many senior executives, "firm management" is often bullying in a leadership guise.

Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute in 2011 stated the top three tactics used by bullies were:

1. Accusing the victim of mistakes they had not actually made;

2. Non-verbally threatening and intimidating, clearly demonstrating aggression;

3. Unreasonably dismissing the victim's opinions in front of others in order to humiliate them.

If you believe bullying is happening to you, keep a diary of the behaviour to see if you can spot a pattern. If this is the case, speak to a senior manager you trust or a member of the HR team and talk with them in detail about what's been happening. Remember to document everything, including what has been discussed and agreed actions.

If the problem persists, you will need this evidence to ensure a positive outcome in the future.

However, if you still get no resolution after going to your management team, you can contact the Department of Labour who will be able to support you in your next steps.

A lot of the time bullying victims slowly become isolated from the rest of the team and are not supported by their co-workers.

As this progresses, it makes it harder and harder for the victim to be able to come into work, their sick days increase and their morale collapses.


Tom O'Neil is an international author, award-winning speaker and MD of cv.co.nz. His new book, in stores now, is The 1 per cent Principle.

- NZ Herald

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