Is workplace bullying Real ?

Rima (name changed) is a smart thinker and been a topper in school, and then in college. She is highly confident. And she always thought immature & anxious people think that they are getting bullied.

but I was thinking all wrong these years. You get bullied for being better than your self-obsessed and narcissist boss, you get bullied from your insecure colleagues” sobbed Rima.

We being EAP partners keep witnessing such cases very closely in many organisations. Last week Ravi (name changed) was directed to our team through his team lead Pankaj (name changed) saying his performance is dipping. After having a meaningful conversation with Ravi, what he shared was shocking for me. He felt, Pankaj is a difficult boss who used to single him out during a meeting, ask his input and then, completely make a mockery out of it. It didn’t start here. It started in very simple and subtle ways; he was the last one to know about an important meeting, after completing an assignment he was questioned on every aspect of it, his opinions and suggestions were made fun of, in a team project, his work was highlighted and cross questioned upon. This all left him feeling irritated, helpless, alone and isolated. These were just some of the instances that happened.

This was the beginning, out of 10 people, 3 and sometimes 4 were dissatisfied with their jobs and upon digging further; a lot of the times the reasons turned out to be that they felt their work wasn’t valuable for the team, other times they were asked to work on a project and then after sometime, the direction of the work was completely changed and their work disregarded. Other times, they felt no matter how much they worked, they could never be at par with their colleagues, and they became the butt of all the jokes and gossips. These incidents no matter how small or how occasional, impacted their work and performance; they constantly felt being scrutinized and to avoid these situations they started missing work, stopped talking to their colleagues and kept to themselves. All these incidents, were not just a one-time happening; they were being repeated in different ways over weeks and months.

What we don’t realise is that, this is bullying, at workplace. Bullying not necessarily always be physical and verbal, a lot times it is when an employee feels his/her every decision is being questioned, there is a biasness in the behaviour towards him/her, he/she feels estranged and this all is affecting his/her physical as well as mental health.

It is not always us, at the receiving end of such behaviour; sometimes it is our colleagues and friends. The question that comes now is how do we help ourselves or even them? Leaving the job is not always an option, and there is no guarantee that next workplace will be bullying free. So, for beginning, do not stay silent. Keeping our eyes closed and wishing this all will go away, more often than not doesn’t work. The first thing that is most important is talking about. You can talk to a confidant, a colleague or a senior or a counsellor. A counsellor provides a safe space where one can confidentially talk about what is happening and will be heard with no bias and judgment.

Next, try to deal with the situation in a non-threatening manner and if that’s not possible, then find the person to lodge complaint to. Voicing out your concern to a trusted authority in the organization is important. They will be able to help you understand if you’re actually being bullied. If bullying is confirmed, then they can further provide guidance on how to deal with it. Alternatively, you may contact a higher authority, like a designated contact person or a senior colleague. If that doesn’t work, there are many legal procedures to help an employee in such situations.

Being bullied often makes us feel what we have done till now is futile and it doesn’t matter and maybe we deserve such treatment. What we do in our life, how we reach a point; none of it is futile. Every experience of our lives, gives us strength. Hence, sit, spend time with yourself to introspect and then, find ways to deal with the challenge. In here, a counsellor can help you understand what is happening, why is it happening, how to react, how much they can control the situation and help an individual work on things such as boundary setting, increasing your assertiveness skills and developing self – confidence and self – esteem.


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