Sally was tired of the yelling and shouting. She was young and had never experienced this before at home, in school or even in her part-time jobs. Not knowing what to do, she quit. Older now, she realizes the behaviour she and others were exposed to is not appropriate and she could have spoken up – to her manager (except she was her supervisor), Human Resources, the head of the company, or the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. There are many alternatives today for support!
Sally experienced what some studies indicate – 2/3 of women have experienced some type of ongoing bullying. She experienced verbal abuse (even the spreading of malicious rumours), while some experience physical abuse (hitting, pushing, slapping) and online bullying where people are intimidated and humiliated.
Workplace bullying is a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that causes physical or emotional harm. Bullying can cross over to sexual harassment. With the “Me Too” movement more and more women are coming forward about bullying that has happened to them.
What creates a bully? It’s hard to say, some say it may stem from a childhood where a child is mistreated at home and because this is their norm they now bully others. Others see it as a case of low self-esteem and jealousy due to someone else’s popularity. The important thing to remember is that there is a reason for an individual to become a bully – it doesn’t have to make sense, simply put, it just is, bullying behaviour usually occurs because it worked before to get the bully what he or she wants.
How can you prevent bullying behaviour in your workplace? There are certain steps an organization can take to deter bullying, such as:
- Create a written policy dealing with bullying behaviour for your employee handbook
- Be a leader – don’t participate in bullying behaviour
- When you see or hear someone being bullied, stand up to the bully by letting him or her know this behaviour is not acceptable
- If you’re the boss, discipline anyone who exhibits bullying behaviour
- Provide training for all staff to learn about the rights of people in the workplace
Knowing how to prevent bullying is one thing. But what do you do when it’s happening to you? You follow these steps to help you in difficult situations:
- Have an honest talk with the bully about the behaviour and how you feel about it
- Document the behaviour – write down date, time and any details
- Seek support from a higher up or Human Resources in your organization
- Take time off to gather your wits and decide how to handle the situation
Bullying has no place in the workplace. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get rid of it if it is part of the culture of an organization – it takes time, perseverance and a willingness to change. Sally chose to leave, today she could choose another alternative. Be the leader – stand up and be counted when you see or hear others experiencing bullying.
For more information, contact Sherry Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org or (306) 586-2315. She is the President & CEO of Dimension 11, a leader in people and performance development. Dimension 11 helps companies realize stronger profits so they can create more jobs and better communities.