Workplace Bullying: Effective Resposes
Here are some recommendations to effectively deal with workplace bullying or harassment. In the next post, we’ll explore a case study example of preferred options.
Learn about people and their personalities — so that you don’t become a serial victim of another person’s bullying or harassing behaviour. Refer back to the work of Brinkman & Kirshner (2003: 15, 7), outlined in this series of posts, regarding: the 4 intentions of people and how they are affected when threatened and; the characteristics of the 3 most difficult and controlling behaviours of people used by the 3 character types — the people who will give you problems.
As mentioned confronting a bully is not a good idea. If a meeting is required, ensure that you have someone to advocate for you (a union representative, an articulate family member, a lawyer and so on).
Hang on to evidence if you can. Don’t just rely on your memory if you need to make a complaint of harassment and bullying in your workplace. Memory and concentration are the first things to be adversely affected when a person is stressed due to harassment and bullying. Keep everything you can in writing. Keep your position description handy and have copies of performance appraisals, statements or emails that demonstrate your abilities and so on. Keep copies of your medical certificates and keep diary entires of any meetings that you have with others. The bully relies on you not doing any of this so that you will not be believed by others, and the bully looks organised and convincing as a result.
Avoid becoming isolated from friends and loved ones. You will require all the strength and support you can muster in order to maintain your self-esteem and self-worth and to express how you feel and what you need (to get things off your chest.
Seek professional help. You can get this from your doctor even if it’s just to get medical certificates for time off and know who to go to for counselling. Professional counselling is a great option, because they will listen to you and your story, they will help you understand how you are feeling and to acknowledge your pain and hurt, and they will guide you through some actions to help you deal with your distress over a period of time until psychological healing occurs.
Relax. Book yourself in for meditation, yoga or tai chi classes for example or go and have regular massages. Learn how to use guided imagery e.g., with relaxation tapes, CD’s, DVD’s or iPods. Go for bushwalks or swimming or take up a new relaxing hobby. Go to a library or museum and have a day just for you — spoil or pamper yourself.
Use a journal to record your thoughts and feeling each day. This allows you to express how you feel. You don’t have to show it to anyone, although if you are being cared for by a professional counsellor, you may wish to discuss the journal with them — help to clarify your feeling and emotions, help to focus on your strengths and resources, help you to take charge and focus on developing new positive ways of thinking and behaving.
Resign if you need to. This may not be an ideal solution when you have bills and mortgages to pay but in the long run it may be best for your physical and mental health. Make sure that if you do resign, that you receive all the entitlements that you are allowed — you may ask the union representative to do this for you if you are a member. Long service leave, superannuation and so on may be basic entitlements that you have accrued.
Ideally depending on your age and health, you may have another job or income to go to. It may represent a turning point in your life, and you may choose to undertake studies or go on a trip somewhere and do some of the things you have always wanted to do but never had the time to do it. In some cases this may even mean a change in residence or even a partner — life can be like that sometimes.
Take legal action. If you have a reasonable case this may be an option — (e.g., to assist with an action for personal injury, expenses and workers compensation). A lawyer could also act as an advocate for you if grievance proceedings are commenced.