How to Recognise Bullying in the Workplace

Sadly, bullying in the workplace is more common than you think. I hope that what I’m about to say will help someone out there who’s too afraid to speak up; to recognise what they are experiencing and remembering that it’s okay to speak to someone about it.

There comes a point where being challenged becomes something else. It tests your mental health and brings out a worry in you that you’ve never had before. You keep telling yourself it’s because you’re still new, and it will get better.

Maybe one day, the atmosphere in 1-1s and in the office will be the same.

You’ve got to remember that just because they’ve shown a nice gesture, doesn’t mean to say that they aren’t capable of bullying someone. Bullying isn’t just actions, it also words.

Being bullied before, you would think I would see the signs. I just thought that this is what real life was like. You know, starting something new, settling in to a new environment, you’re bound to feel nervous. But nerves turn into fear.

Just like I said in that previous post, I wanted to succeed and feel accomplished. But should you be put down each time you try? No you definitely shouldn’t.

For 6 months I tried and tried, to only get knocked back down again. There was some smiles on some days, but a very small amount. The last two months turned into silence where I felt drained and exhausted from feeling like I couldn’t do things right or I was constantly being patronised.

Don’t let the bullying make you think you’re weak

Such a deceitful two-faced environment. I didn’t want to become one of them. I didn’t want to be branded as part of that ‘team’. Because in actual fact it wasn’t a team. Not a full one anyway. It felt more like we were the troops, or even better, the slaves.

The amount of times I heard, “Oh Natasha will do that.” too many times without knowing how, what, why, when, where… enough was enough.

My blood pressure was sky-high, and my team leader was made fully aware. Not with the exact cause but surely it was something for them to bear in mind when I mentioned it. One day I needed an emergency dental appointment and I was being asked on the phone how I was going to make up for not being in work before I even got an appointment. So I used the remainder of my toil that was left.

My doctor warned me to take things easy. And I knew taking a couple of days of work wouldn’t be an option because the thought of the amount of work I’d have to catch up on terrified me. As a result of the worrying, my health was being damaged physically and emotionally. My migraines increased more than ever and felt like my head was going to explode. My evenings and weekends, just weren’t for ‘me’ time. It was more time for my mind to work overdrive.

There came the day where frustration grew to silence and silence turned into tears. I have never felt so low before when I had worked so hard. I had never felt so under-appreciated. And I wasn’t the only one.

Have you spoken to someone about bullying?

It was in that moment that somebody told me ‘you need to speak to someone’. Some people think the comments you make just go away once you get home but they don’t. I wasn’t able to switch off. And that’s so damaging in more ways than you can imagine.

It tests your patience with everything including the important things like relationships, getting to sleep at night, eating properly, and even the simple things like putting on that brave smile. The smile just didn’t cut it for me anymore. I wasn’t my happy usual self. I was someone who was getting frustrated at everything. It was then when I realised how important my health was in this experience.

Don’t let them brainwash you

When you finally decide to be strong and honest, don’t let them fool you. When they ask, “Oh are you just saying this because ___ said it.” No. You see, that’s where I and you are completely different. Not because of your status, or the money you earn, or your lifestyle. I’m true to myself and I am who I am.

I don’t bring up something so hurtful just to copy somebody else. The thing that’s worse is that I’m pretty sure you see what’s happening right in front of your eyes but you’re constantly trying to cover it up.

The amount of times I thought there was nice meaningful conversation, was it all just sarcasm? Like the countless amount of times (including my interview and my CV) with mentions of working at Manchester United but you never seemed to remember each and every time you would tell us you had a meeting there or some sort of thing related to work.

What’s funny is, I mentioned before and being expected to do something without knowing how so I would obviously ask. But then, there were times where I was experienced in certain areas, more than you in fact and you made me feel so little.

You can’t treat someone differently because they’re younger thank you, dress differently to you, have different interests etc. If you’re someone’s manager, then manage them. Make it a two-way street where you listen to each other and actually put methods into place. Value your employees. Don’t push all of the jobs onto one person just because you think it is okay or they need a push.

A new chapter

Since deciding that it was ‘time to start a new chapter’ it’s taken its time but it was the best thing I’ve ever done after realising how much I had learnt.

I look back and I don’t seem professionalism nor do I see a ‘team’ or rewarding workplace. I saw fear. People who were scared to speak up. People who felt like they had to be someone else.

I stood up for myself and said exactly how I felt, how I was made to feel. My role was soon coming to an end due to maternity cover and I knew that I needed the time to start a new adventure, to discover what’s really out there for me. Many judged my decision negatively. But if you even knew the half of it, you would have made an escape so much sooner than I did.

That’s it from me. No amount of words can explain how good it feels to be in the place I am today. I valued even though I am still a new member of the team. People actually get to know things about me and take interest in my work and achievements outside of work… not for anyone’s benefit but just because it’s nice.

I am also part of a much stronger work ethic where I look forward to continuing to grow and developing in everything that I do. I’m not being pushed, I’m being respected and recognised for my capabilities.

The message of the story is: bullying should not be ignored in any way whatsoever. No matter where you are or who you are, it’ll never be right.

4 thoughts on “How to Recognise Bullying in the Workplace

  1. I’m so sorry that you have gone through this ordeal. But I’m glad you have found the strength to speak up as many would just let it be. I was watching a program about adult bullying about a week ago, and I am amazed how common it is! Happy to hear that you’re OK after this, and yes, ANY kind of bullying shouldn’t be tolerated!

    1. Thank you for reading this post. A lot of people don’t expect it to be so common with adults. But sadly, it happens. I just hope the bullies get their comeuppance!

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