Being the victim of bullying at work can leave you feeling vulnerable and powerless, counselling for workplace bullying can help you to take back control and build your confidence to move forward and tackle the situation.
Bullying has long been thought of as mostly suffered in childhood, the school playground bully would often be a storyline in children’s soaps like ‘Grange Hill’. However, bullying and harassment are far more prevalent in the adult world than many people realise.
Bullying & harassment can occur in all areas of adult life, and to all manner of people. The setting can be within intimate relationships, in the family or in your social circle but most often, as adults, we experience being victims of bullying at work. Counselling for workplace bullying helps you to build up your confidence to tackle the situation and regain control.
Why aren’t we aware of the bullying & harassment at work?
One of the features of bullying and harassment is that it is insidious and can often be inflicted in subtle hardly noticeable ways. The target of the bully may not, at first even realise that they are the victim of bullying. Frequently the office bully disguises their actions in the form of ‘jokes’ or ‘playful behaviour’, ‘office pranks’ or ‘light-hearted banter’. The work bully is often even able to get others, in the office or team to join in and inflict small acts against the victim, without anyone realising they are being coerced to do so.
Workplace bullying: How the bully subtly inflicts acts on their victim
At first it might be small acts such as leaving the victim out of the loop, ‘forgetting’ to include them in emails or not sending full directions or instructions for work to be completed, this leaves the person being bullied slightly vulnerable and possibly causes them to make a mistake, not perform as well, lose an important contract or miss a deadline or meeting and thus be seen in a poor light by others around them.
The bully might then build on this by pointing out something their victim hasn’t done or couldn’t do, due to the lack of instructions or support, and then legitimising their need to take stronger action such as a very public reprimand in the office, thus humiliating the victim further, this might even lead onto shouting, name calling and in extreme cases physical acts of violence … others then might start to join in and judge the person being bullied unfairly as a result. And so the cycle continues.
There are other more subtle forms of bullying, gossiping about the victim and causing others to talk about them, spreading rumours, excluding them from social events perhaps by deliberately choosing an event that they know will be unsuitable for the person being bullied. Worse still, the bully might deliberately damage the personal or professional reputation of their victim by talking to other members of the team that perhaps don’t know the victim and take at face value what they are being told.
Workplace bullying: The emotional and financial costs of being bullied
The cost to the victim of workplace bullying can be extremely high and not just the cost to your work but can spill over and affect your personal or home life too. At the beginning of the cycle the victim my feel left out, ostracised by the bully and perhaps even the team but this can lead onto feelings of self-doubt, loss of confidence, anxiety, stress and depression. The bullied victim can then begin to suffer physical as well as mental health issues leading to taking days sick.
The career and promotional prospects of those being bullied can be affected as their performance can often deteriorate under the stress that they are going through.
Those being bullied will often carry all the stress and anxiety with them into their personal lives and this can then impact those areas as well.
Counselling for being bullied at work: Identifying the bullying behaviour and standing up to the office bully
The reason that bullying in the workplace is so often a difficult issue to deal with is that, even to the victim of the bullying, it can be hard to identify and define the bully’s actions. The victim can often even doubt themselves and wonder if they are the problem, being paranoid or overly sensitive.
Even when you know you are being bullied and raise the issue with your manager or, if it is your manager who is inflicting the bullying behaviour, the HR team, you may worry that it will be dismissed by others as ‘not bullying’
- Just a ‘clash of personalities’.
- Just their ‘leadership style’.
- Just being overly sensitive – you are to blame!
When your very real concerns are being ignored or worse dismissed as your problem then you need to find a way to deal with the situation and take back control.
At this point the victim of bullying can often be at a very low ebb and needs to be heard and supported, this is where talking to a counsellor about your experience of workplace bullying helps.
Counselling for coping with workplace bullying and harassment
The problem will only end when the bullying stops. However you may have reached a point where you are at such a low ebb that you aren’t feeling emotionally strong enough to do what you need to do in order to tackle the issue.
The first step that you can take is to ‘talk about the bullying’ in a safe and supportive environment that is away from the highly charged environment of your office or workplace. Talking to a counsellor about the bullying and the feelings you have means you are heard and not judged, the counsellor will not dismiss you as ‘overly sensitive’, ‘paranoid’, ‘unable to cope with the pressure’ or simply ‘making excuses’ which can often be a fear of those being bullied at work, when considering talking to either their manager or the HR team.
Bullying in the workplace can leave you feeling vulnerable and powerless, counselling for workplace bullying can help you to take back control and build your confidence to move forward and tackle the situation.
Find a therapists at City Therapy Rooms to offer you support and counselling for workplace bullying.
Helpful resources and support on workplace bullying and harassment
Help on being bullied at work: Mind.org
Is a really helpful website with articles, ideas and resources to help anyone being bullied or supporting someone being bullied Bullying.co.uk
Though this article was written with the LGBTQ community in mind it has some really useful tips to help prevent anyone being the victim of Cyberbullying: Most LGBTQ are Cyberbullied. Here’s How to Stay Safe Online
© Brian Cotsen