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Managing pressure at work: Is your office a bully-free zone?

Being bullied tends not to be openly discussed in case this increases the risk of further ill-treatment

Gulf News

According to the memoirs of former British prime minister, Tony Blair, A Journey, he writes that he felt bullied by his chancellor, Gordon Brown.

Being bullied tends not to be openly discussed in case this increases the risk of further ill-treatment, and because the victim often feels ashamed to discuss it with colleagues in case his/her professional credibility is called into question. Even the mildest form of intimidation may be very disturbing, and, if prolonged, the effect on the victim can be severe.

A bully will typically shout and verbally abuse victims publicly, in order to confirm his/her control and will often allocate tasks which they know the person is incapable of doing.

How can victimisation be avoided? Individuals who are being bullied have a number of options including confronting the bully; contacting the HR department [if available] or complaining to the bully's immediate superior.

Effects

In reality, however, the victim will often stay and keep silent or, alternatively, if they are so unhappy, they will end up leaving their job. If possible, talking to a colleague can help, but in the end it is up to the victim to take action.

My advice would be to confront the bully immediately, and in a direct but quiet way that does not escalate the situation, that is, so that the bully does not become further incensed to a point whereby he/she will want to exact revenge.

My clients often tell me that informal complaints are usually met with little or no response. While a complaint of bullying or intimidation is very often difficult for managers to resolve, an indication that the complaint is being taken seriously is welcomed by staff who have expressed concern over a bullying situation.

As people are often reluctant to discuss being bullied, managers need to be sensitive to the telltale signs, and know how to act when they see them.

Undoubtedly the most effective intervention is the training of managers to help them ensure the quick resolution of such disputes between their staff. Quite often, managers do nothing simply because they do not know what to do.

It is also clearly important that employers recognise the impact that bullying can have indirectly on the morale of the entire department concerned, as well as on the individual employee.

In particular, a formal document detailing policy and procedures should be in place to deal with issues of workplace bullying and/or harassment — as this indicates unambiguously that the organisation takes the issue of intimidation seriously, and provide a mechanism for dealing with complaints, both informally and formally.

Bullying is unacceptable in the modern workplace and no responsible company or organisation should be seen as condoning it. The health of employees is important, and that includes both physical and mental wellbeing.

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Points to ponder

  • Bullying destroys the morale of staff
  • A demoralised workforce is less productive
  • Bullying and intimidation must be reported

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven  stress strategies –  www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

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