According to research, workplace bullying is four times more likely than sexual harassment at work and is an issue for both men and women.
The problem with bullying in the workplace is it’s not always easy to identify. When a colleague of mine made comments that I perceived as undermining and hurtful. I couldn’t decide if I was being oversensitive or if they really were out of order.
Another colleague’s reaction when I told her about the comments was, don’t worry we all know he’s difficult, so I tried to brush his behaviour off.
I, like lots of women, was conditioned to be nice,
not to upset others or make a scene. That is why women tend to dismiss or ignore belittling behaviour
The #metoo movement has made great changes for sexual harassment so perhaps this is the perfect time to stand up against workplace bullying as well?
Going back to my story, I was fortunate not to see this colleague every day as he was based elsewhere in the country. We did, however, have regular contact as we worked on the same project.
His intimidating behaviour and derogatory comments really knocked my confidence and I began to dread his calls and visits. My performance at work was affected and I felt anxious and demotivated.
Eventually, I had the courage to take my problem to my boss. His response really surprised me; as he said I needed to stand up to the person myself. Not what I’d been expecting or hoping he’d say!
It took me a day to build up my courage then, with my stomach churning and hands shaking I called him.
“John*, I’m really enjoying working on this project. At times though, I feel that you don’t respect my contributions and value. I find the comments you make such as;………. hurtful and unprofessional”
John was clearly shocked and the call quickly ended. In the moments afterwards I was hit by a sense of guilt, but that was soon replaced by a feeling of strength and power at having spoken up and having my voice heard.
What happened next?
I’d love to say John changed overnight and we became best friends, but in reality, our working relationship did improve and the hurtful comments dramatically reduced.
If you’re struggling with a workplace colleague I’d urge you to do something about it. If it’s upsetting you and your effectiveness at work then do tell someone, HR, your manager or a colleague.
The key thing I took away from my experience of workplace bullying is that there’s nothing more powerful than standing up for yourself and having your voice heard.
If you’d like to have a chat with me about this or other confidence issues, you can book a free Confidence Breakthrough Call at www.speakwithjo.com