Friday, April 29, 2011

Y. You can do something if you're being bullied. Workplace bullying

This post is for Y in the A-Z blogging challenge 2011.

You can do something if you're being bullied:
Read everything available and decide whether you want to
     a) leave quietly
     b) fight
It's a personal decision that only you can make. Discuss your decision with trusted professional/s  (healthcare, union, legal etc) as well as family and friends who you may need to lean on for support for a significant period of time.

Awareness of the insidious nature of bullying is growing, particularly in Australia with some positive changes in legislation happening recently. However, many people would prefer to bury their heads in the sand rather than face the issue proactively.

Pros and cons.
Official complaints
may involve the police
If you leave quietly you may feel guilty for allowing the bully to enjoy finding their next target. After all you're probably one in a long string of people who have suffered. Some people find this intolerable, and will choose to fight. "No one else should have to go through what I've suffered". Others are too worn out, and need to leave for the sake of their family and own health. There is no shame in this and it takes courage too.

If you fight, it can be frustrating, exhausting, demoralising, take a huge toll on your health and the patience of your family and supportive colleagues. It may will take significantly longer than you believed possible to come to a resolution.

The resolution may be unsatisfactory with the bully being paid 'hush money' and go on to work elsewhere and continue their murky nastiness, meanwhile smirking that they have won once again.

You need a strong support network - fighting bullying will take a toll on your health. The bully will be vindictive and do their best to discredit  and distort anything you bring up as evidence.

Your journal (see J) is vital, and you will have (hopefully)  recorded everything in writing, kept copies of emails, text messages and the time, date and place of the undermining comments. You will have also kept copies of the time date etc of any complaints you made, and what was done about these. The bully will generally lie and blatantly deny what you're saying. You need hard evidence and to be able to show a consistent pattern of behaviour.

Good investigators look for patterns.
Remember, for an investigation, it's the number and pattern of repeated comments or actions that are significant and meaningful. You will be called petty and jeered at for your fastidiousness, but it's important to be able to verify the pattern .

You may feel you've been chewed up and spat out.
This information also applies for children suffering with bullies at school, and with school authorities.

It's extremely hard to accept that the person you're dealing with isn't normal. The serial bully doesn't recognise their wrongdoing and will only pay lip-service to making amends. They remain deviousness, ruthlessness, cunning, and deceptive.  Once you accept that the serial bully could be a sociopath or has a disordered personality it becomes easier to keep fastidious records.

It's during the phase of trying to force yourself to believe that this person is a normally functioning adult that it's extremely difficult. Most of us want to accept that our colleagues are good people, and we keep making apologies for unacceptable behaviour, we're happy to accommodate difference, and try to accept that the behaviour may just be temporary or a quirk. However, if you've called the person to account once, explained the behaviour is unacceptable to you, and there has been no consistent shift or change - start keeping records.  The sooner you begin this process, the better.

I'll mention those three things again -
At the first sign of unacceptable behaviour:

     1.  Call the person to account
     2.  Explain that the behaviour is unacceptable 
     3.  If there is no change, start keeping records.

Here tomorrow: The A-Z of bullying - an incomplete journey.

(I can see that there is another whole series of posts to do with confidence and assertiveness. Thankyou to C who mentioned the healing process AFTER serial bullying.  I've begun researching and will come back to that when I've had a break.)

There are many outstanding resources on line. A couple I find useful are Bullying. No way! an Australian resource for teachers and students, and a UK site Bully On Line. eBossWatch on Facebook here regularly posts links to articles and discussions about bullying. A blog post by Andersons Solicitors on bullying from a legal perspective is here. It specifically relates to South Australia, but is well worth reading wherever you are. They are well aware that ignoring workplace bullying is unhelpful and offer some suggestions to assist if you're the target of bullying.

This is in no way an exhaustive list, and each country will no doubt have equally good or more relevant websites. If you're being bullied please seek advice from a professional health care practitioner experienced in this area.

Over at jumpingaground I'm spending the month Drabbling using alliteration.


Arlee Bird said...

This has been a good series that I hope will help some of those who might be faced with this problem. Other than a bit when I was a kid in school, I've never had to deal with being bullied since I was sizable enough to intimidate others myself and I can talk a pretty good response if I need to; but those who are weaker, more timid, or lacking confidence often do need some help. You covered a lot of ground.

Tossing It Out

sue said...

Lee, thankyou so much, I'm deeply grateful for your encouragement. I'm amazed at how this seems to have come together, and really hope it is of help to someone, somewhere. I'm confident it wouldn't have happened without the A-Z challenge - Thankyou.