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How To Cope With Workplace Bullying

Aug 29, 2023 | Anxiety, Depression, Mental Health, Stress, Trauma

Workplace bullying has become an unfortunate reality for many individuals. Although we might like to believe that growing up and graduating from schooling means the end of bullying, this is not the case. Whether it manifests as verbal abuse, exclusion, or intimidation, the effects of bullying are often profound, leading to stress, anxiety, and decreased job satisfaction. In many cases, people leave their positions simply due to the bullying they experience. 

Coping with workplace bullying is crucial to ensure a healthy and productive work environment. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies that can help individuals navigate and overcome bullying at work, promoting personal well-being and fostering a positive workplace culture.

Recognize and understand workplace bullying

The first step in coping with workplace bullying is to recognize and understand what constitutes bullying behavior. It is essential to differentiate between constructive criticism or feedback and the deliberate and repetitive mistreatment often associated with bullying. Understanding the different forms of workplace bullying, such as verbal abuse, gossip, exclusion, or sabotage, will help you identify when you are experiencing or witnessing such behaviors.

Workplace bullying might occur for a wide range of reasons. It could be a result of jealousy, a competitive nature, a lack of empathy, or deeply personal reasons. Sometimes, it could be as simple as you remind the bully of someone they had a poor experience with in the past.

Reach out for support

Dealing with workplace bullying can be isolating and emotionally draining to say the least. It is vital to seek support from trusted colleagues, friends, or family members who can offer empathy, advice, and a listening ear. Sharing your experiences with someone you trust can provide emotional relief and validate your feelings.

Additionally, consider reaching out to human resources or management personnel within your organization. They are responsible for ensuring a safe and respectful work environment, and they can help address the bullying issue appropriately. Document incidents of bullying with dates, times, and details to provide evidence if necessary.

Work on empathy

Feeling empathy for bullies in the workplace can be a challenging concept to grasp, as bullies often create a hostile and toxic environment for their colleagues. This aside, cultivating empathy towards bullies can potentially help address the root causes of their behavior and contribute to a healthier work environment for everyone involved.

Bullies are not born but shaped by various factors, such as personal insecurities, past experiences, or unaddressed emotional wounds. By trying to empathize with bullies, you can attempt to understand the root causes of their behavior. Perhaps they are struggling with low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, or unresolved trauma. Recognizing these underlying issues can help you see bullies as complex individuals rather than simply as perpetrators.

Empathy can help break the cycle of aggression and retaliation. Responding to a bully with understanding and compassion rather than reciprocating with hostility or indifference can allow you to create an opportunity for change. Bullies may not be aware of the impact of their actions on others, and by showing empathy, you can encourage them to reflect on their behavior and consider alternative ways of relating to their colleagues.

We strive to teach our children to respond to those who are hurting us with kindness and a gentle demeanor. Unless we do the same, we are simply not practicing what we preach.

Develop resilience and self-care practices

Coping with workplace bullying requires developing resilience and prioritizing self-care. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Focus on personal well-being: Engage in activities that promote your mental and physical health. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest can strengthen your resilience and provide a solid foundation for coping with bullying.
  • Build a support network: Seek out positive relationships in the workplace. Cultivate connections with colleagues who can provide encouragement and a sense of camaraderie. Joining professional associations or networking groups can also help expand your support network beyond your immediate workplace.
  • Practice compassion: Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that the bullying is not a reflection of your worth or abilities. Engage in positive self-talk and remind yourself of your strengths and achievements.
  • Work on setting boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect yourself from further mistreatment. Communicate assertively, express your expectations, and assert your right to be treated with respect. If possible, avoid interactions with the bully whenever feasible.
  • Take breaks: If the workplace becomes too toxic, consider taking time off to recharge and regain perspective. A vacation or short break can provide much-needed distance and allow you to evaluate your options objectively.
Develop coping mechanisms and conflict resolution skills

Building effective coping mechanisms and conflict resolution skills can significantly assist in navigating workplace bullying:

  • Practice emotional regulation: Focus on managing your emotions in challenging situations. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, or engaging in hobbies outside of work can help regulate stress and promote emotional well-being.
  • Develop assertiveness skills: Enhancing your ability to assert yourself respectfully and confidently can empower you in dealing with bullying behavior. Seek professional development opportunities or workshops that focus on assertiveness training.
  • Maintain professionalism: Regardless of the bullying you face, strive to maintain professionalism in your actions and communications. This can help build your reputation as a reliable and composed professional while keeping the focus on the bully’s behavior.
  • Explore conflict resolution options: If direct confrontation seems too daunting or ineffective, consider exploring conflict resolution resources offered by your organization. Mediation or facilitated discussions can provide neutral grounds to address the bullying situation with the assistance of a trained professional.
Explore Other Opportunities

In the rare event that all else fails and none of the above solutions work, it may be best to begin exploring other options. Because we spend so much of our lives at work, we deserve to feel safe during the time that we are there. If workplace bullying is impacting your mental and physical health, something needs to change. Begin job searching for a company that will protect your well-being and act when necessary.

Coping with workplace bullying is never easy but it can be successfully done with the right tools in hand. As adults, dealing with bullying does not get any easier but it does become more manageable. Especially for those that had to cope with bullying in their younger years, this can be extra traumatic. Acting swiftly can allow you to resume a comfortable position at work and enjoy the time that you do spend there.


New Dimensions Can Help!

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