If you feel you have been bullied at work, you are not alone. Almost four people in ten experienced some sort of interpersonal conflict in their workplace last year, according to CIPD the body for people development.
Six respondents out of ten reported a lack of respect shown to them. For one in 25 there had been the threat of or actual physical assault at work. One in 16 had taken time off with stress. A clash of personality or working style was the most common diagnosis, and superiors notably line managers were typically cited by juniors as the problem. One in four said their line manager actively created conflict.
Women’s lobby group Opportunity Now surveyed 25,000 people last year and found 52 per cent of women had experienced bullying in the previous three years – not including sexual harassment.
The CIPD says line managers need personal development to ensure they have the right core skills. ACAS, the dispute service, says managers tend to be “people who were good at the previous job….few are natural managers of people, most can learn how to do the job but not many can do the job successfully without training”.
Bullying can include: inappropriate criticism, ignoring your contributions, excluding you from social activities, spreading malicious rumours, repeatedly giving you tasks that are meaningless or unachievable.
Psychologists say the bully’s behaviour is a reflection of them, not you, that they try to cover up their own insecurities, and that they often target people who threaten them or their prospects.
They advise: be calm, give plenty of eye contact, and if possible tell the bully you take exception, or they are out of order; talk to a manager you trust or an HR or union rep; ask what your employer’s policy is on bullying; keep a diary. There is also a BullyingUK helpline on 0808 800 2222.