Warning Signs of Workplace Bullying

The telltale signs of workplace bullying in any organised setting include:

·         Reduced efficiency

·         Reduced quality and quality control

·         Low morale among staff

·         Atmosphere of tension

·         High rates of absenteeism

·         Drop in productivity and profits

·         Depression

·         Increase in cases being taken to court

If you yourself are being bullied at work you might:

·         Be less productive

·         Be less confident in your work

·         Feel scared, stressed, anxious or depressed

·         Have your life outside of work affected, e.g. study, relationships

·         Want to stay away from work (more than usual)

·         Feel unable to trust your employer or the people you work with

·         Lack confidence and self-esteem in yourself and your work

·         Have physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, backaches, sleep problems, especially on a Sunday evening or Monday morning 

Some of the coping strategies most commonly applied are the belief by the victim that it is their fault and their problem, believing that they are somehow to blame. They may trivialise the violence cognitively, i.e. think they are “making a mountain out of a molehill”, deny what is happening or believe that they should be able to handle it themselves. These personal interventions vary from obliging/appeasing the bully – going out of their way to please – to assertiveness and even aggressive strategies. By using the latter, the victim challenges the integrity of the offender and enters the power struggle with them. Aggressive strategies are risky as the most powerful person, be it status or ‘referred’ power, is most likely to win. 

Being bullied is hard to admit to and men especially often view an admittance of being bullied as a sign of weakness. There is also a strong fear of reprisal, not just from the bully but from the organisation they work in. In dealing with complaints of alleged bullying, the onus is on the victim to seek help. Once he/she has decided to pursue third-party intervention, the process of resolving issues and making complaints involves the informal and formal routes. This first step is where the victim confronts the alleged bully, preferably accompanied by a third party, making it clear that the bully/bullies’ behaviour is unacceptable and must stop. Read about what you can do.