When you left school and college, it was a huge sigh of relief. You thought you were done with teasing and bullying. Starting work meant you were entering the world of grown-ups, who respect each other and are mature beings but youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ended up being bullied by some surly workmate. MWERETI KANJO tackles this subject with reference to an article by Dr. Steinman and advice from professor in bio-ethics Mfutso Bengo.
Being bullied, whether at work or in school is never fun. The difference with work and school is you can never just pack up and leave, thinking you will apply elsewhere tomorrow and get another job, especially in this country where unemployment rates are too high.
This teasing and bullying could be from workmates, making fun of you and so on or your boss who just never wants to give you credit when itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s due or pushes you around all day long.
Whatever the case, how do you survive the bully at work?
Dr. Susan Steinman, chairperson of the Workplace Dignity Institute, says it is always good to assess oneself and it will not do any harm to take stock and remove some of the cobwebs in your life before starting the battle against the bully. However, it must be for you and not your enemy.
She says it is important to remember that you are not the first to be bullied. But this is said not to comfort you. Now that you know you are not the odd one out, it is time to find support. A battle with the bully is uphill and you will need your friends and family to stand by you. Keep a diary of events because small incidents build up and it will act as backup when you take the issue up with management. The biggest mistake targets make is to avoid confronting the bully but this is the next big step. After you have confronted him and there is no change, talk to his boss and leave the authorities to deal with it.
“At first, you may think that it is temporary and that it will soon pass. But as the days and weeks pass by, you will come to the conclusion that you are dealing with dysfunctional behaviour. You will try to adjust, to “handle” the situation and in the trial and error phase you may find that your best intentions could actually make things worse.
“The mistake most targets make is to deny their reality when dealing with a workplace bully. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t try to explain bullying behaviour in logical terms, because it is neither logical nor decent. This is a different ball game. The silence, shame and denial accompanying workplace bullying are exactly what the bully needs to succeed,” says Steinman.
Dr. Mfusto Bengo, a professor in bio-ethics, says in such instances, it is important to start communication with other people. Talk to the human resources department and ask them to call for a general meeting on the negative side of bullying. Many bullying instances spring from jealousy because you are more qualified than them and they feel threatened or simply because you are good at what you do. When communication has been made with the manager they will have more interest in solving the issue because it will have an impact on their assessment.
“In most cases, the person that is being bullied goes through extreme depression which affects their work performance and if not handled well could lead them into losing their job. Even worse, they might commit suicide. The best thing is to seek counsel from managers or mediators where you will express your feelings in the presence of the bully. To say that you will handle the situation alone is a bit dangerous because already this person has shown dominion over you. Their level should not intimidate you,” advises Bengo.