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 remember that it’s okay to speak to someone about it.
There comes a point where being challenged becomes a whole new level. 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 that it’ll get better.
Nice gestures doesn’t balance out the actions/words of a bully
You’ve got to remember that just because someone has shown a nice gesture, it doesn’t mean to say that they aren’t capable of bullying someone. Bullying isn’t just actions, it also words.
Having been bullied before, you’d think I would see the signs. I thought that this is what the ‘big wide world’ of employment was like. You know, starting something new, settling in to a new environment, you’re bound to feel nervous. But the nerves turn into a big ball of fear you feel every morning as you approach the workplace.
For 6 months I tried and tried, to get knocked back down again. There were smiles on some days, but a small amount in comparison to the days I felt low. The final two months turned into silence where I felt 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
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.
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 as it gradually worsened during this employment. 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 time owed.
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 I felt like my head was going to explode. My evenings and weekends weren’t spent enjoying a bit of ‘me’ time. It was more time for my mind to work overdrive.
The day came when frustration grew to silence and the silence eventually turned into tears. I’d never felt so low for something I’ve worked so hard at. 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 having a bath/shower.
The smile just didn’t cut it for me anymore. I wasn’t my usual smiley self. I was frustrated at everything. It was at this point when I realised how important my health is.
Don’t let them brainwash you
When you finally decide to be strong, don’t let them fool you. When they ask, “Oh are you just saying this because ___ said it.” No. You see, that’s where me and you are completely different. Not because of your status, or the money you earn, or your lifestyle, I’m just 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 a nice meaningful conversation, was it all just sarcasm?
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.
A new chapter
I look back and see people who were scared to speak up, people who felt like they had to be someone else. Whereas, I stood up for myself and said exactly 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 knew the half of it, you would’ve escaped a lot sooner than I did.
No amount of words can explain how good it feels to be in the place I am today. I’m valued in a new team, at a new workplace. People here actually get to know things about me and take interest in my work and achievements outside of work.
There’s a much stronger work ethic and I look forward to growing and developing in everything that I do.
The message of the story is: bullying should not be ignored in any way whatsoever. It’ll never be right.