From the desk of a psychologist!

Bullies at Workplace

Whether as a victim or a bystander, subtle or on your face, verbal or physical : we all face bullies at our workplace. To understand it better, because most of the time we aren’t even aware that we are being bullied at the first place, lets revisit the definition of bullying.

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender,sexuality or ability.

The word which stood out for me from this definition is COERCION. Most of the time at  a work place there is no obvious verbal threats or physical aggression but yes pressure is very much there.  You can point your finger and describe the pressure, and often it is even indescribable.  How many times at your workplace you’ve taken another route or changed your lunch table because a particular person/group of people is present there?

It is quite interesting to see how as we grow up it becomes strenuous  for us to accept , that even we can be a victim of bullying. I think the thing which makes it is  harder for us to believe it is the smoothness of our bullies. Workplace bullies  to often operate within the norms and practices of the workplace. They aren’t doing anything out of line but still hurting people. I am sure, half of the time, even the bullies are not aware of their role and same goes for the bystander. This is the biggest challenge in working with this type of bullying because most of the time, there is no defined problem, finding the solution becomes more and more impossible.

Though whenever we talk about workplace bullies the face of a devilish ” BOSS” comes to our mind, but it is not true. Our colleagues, workplace friends or our clients can also very well play the role of the bully with a friendly, smiling face. For bullying, we need to understand there should be a repetition of events or a particular event with dire consequence. A passing workplace stress can’t be counted as bullying.

How tolerant I need to be as far as workplace bullying goes? This totally depends on an individual, what kind of person he or she is. Sometimes a person, to maintain his or her dignity and sanity decide to quit the working environment only and try to seek a new desirable work place but my question is what is the guarantee that the following place is not going to have a bully waiting for his next victim. Are you going to leave working because of a bully?

Then, How am I supposed to deal with this monster and my life, which is becoming worse from bad?

TALK: Seek a person, who can be helpful & trustworthy. It can be a person who had previously dealt with a similar situation and have successfully done so. You can also be very clear about the problem, jot down the points and have an objective interaction in which you can state your problem with a senior/ HR personal.

CONFRONT: If you can, you should confront the bully. It need not be an ugly conversation, never yell or threaten.

NEVER, EVER GOSSIP: Even if you’re sharing it with others, not at any time feel people are going to do something about it. What you’re doing is just getting it off your chest but at the same time giving  the people reasons to gossip and make it worse.

KEEP A RECORD OF EVENTS: Maintain a diary with dates and incidents because if it reaches a level of  a formal complaint, you need to be prepared.


Comments on: "Bullies at Workplace" (18)

  1. Hassan Shabbir said:

    Very nicely written. The remidies mentioned at the end seem really helpful. They are a bunch of pretty easy things to do. If doing such simple practices eases a person from a menance like bullying, it will not be a hefty tradoff at all.

  2. good effort dear….i like the article and whatever is written is very…job well done!

  3. Bullies at the workplace can be very subtle…they provoke their victim and hope for a reaction. If successful, everyone sees the victim as being unreasonable or rude, not realizing what had triggered such an outburst in the first place.

  4. Make a point and then leave, if have to…is the best part I liked about this article.

  5. Avoid copy paste.

    • unwrappingminds said:

      Dear Mr. Malik,

      I will take it as a compliment that you’ve been so impressed by this post that you are considering as a copy paste. Thanks!

  6. uh huh!!! nice! n very apt too………..

  7. Mohammad Ather said:

    Excellent Article Naghma Ji. I like the easiness of your explanations and the solutions suggested by you. I particularly like the idea of KEEPING A RECORD OF EVENTS. Well done.

  8. Shafaq said:

    Good article Naghma! Keep it up.

  9. Armina said:

    Nice Article Naghma. Simple and informative.

  10. Vineeta Khan said:

    Very well written Ms Naghma, I feel this is something we all come across in our lives as you rightly said may be in a subtle way or straight on your face……. but the point is, the one who bullies must have also faced this in his/her past…….. Its same as we feel helpless when we are ragged but do the same things the very next year when we see fresher’s coming. I feel its a good initiative from your side to make people aware of it & sensitize them about the issue……. 🙂

  11. Stunned with the timing.. couldnt have read this at a better time..

  12. iram malik said:

    a nice start . and easil explained solutions . waiting for more

  13. Twins (separated at birth) said:

    Interesting article and very relevant to us working in the middle east. What is the way to deal with such bullies when there are chances that you might lose your job if you deny a favor/job you have been asked for.

    Personally i was in such a situation last year as i was asked to do some thing beyond my expertise/capabilities but Alhumdullilah I could mange it somehow but the whole experience was very stressful.

  14. Good start Naghma…and the stratagies mentioned to deal with them are simple and can be applied easily:)

  15. Hi, Naghma! Thanks for sharing this. I wanted to request you to add the “bystander empowerment” thoughts as well. Since there are many of us who don’t give in to bullying and are quite able to fight back, we can help those who are being bullied by working with them.

  16. very well written Naghma. It strikes a chord with everyone. Some very good suggestions.

  17. Following up on Twins (separated at birth), I volunteered at a Muslim college for a year in the Fiji Islands and saw bullying towards teachers who very much needed the jobs. I think the problem is wide-spread unfortunately.

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