Bullying can happen to anyone, including you.

It is reported that between 10%-40% of individuals in the workforce report being bullied at some point during their careers. The bullying itself could come in the form of insults, speaking down, alienation, allegations or even assault. It could take place in person or in the form of cyberbullying.

What is important to recognize is that, as adults, we find it equally as difficult to speak up and seek help as youth do. For adults, there is another fear associated to speaking up to those that are being the bullies…our careers and money! This is often enough to prevent someone from speaking up.

It has been said that most would rather ‘ignore’ the bully and hope it just stops than to have it addressed and risk the associated repercussions. Sadly, what typically happens is the person slowly becomes isolated in the office, feeling alone, extra sensitive to all around and ultimately quits. With that said, by the time the person quits, mental health has suffered and our work may suffer as well. Using that workplace as a potential reference for the future is now made more difficult.

Bullying within the workplace often starts with ‘water cooler discussions’ where negative talk takes place. The talk is typically about a particular colleague with the intent to isolate. Those around the cooler no longer want to associate, or even work with, that person.   This person could be anyone.

Supervisors will speak down to the employee, take credit for their work or even shame them. Comments such as ‘I have heard’ or ‘I have received several complaints’ are not uncommon. An important fact to consider is that an effective supervisor will address the employee on the first complaint and not allow several to add up.

As employees, we fear that by speaking up, we may lose our job. Speaking up may simply make things worse around the office. These thoughts are common and are what typically keeps us quiet.   By not speaking up, we show the bully, and others, that we will not stop the behaviour.

The most important points to take away from this are to speak up and take notes!

Take notes with every encounter, meeting, email or anything else that will begin to show the full picture of what is taking place.   Ultimately, it is important to ‘prove’ what has taken place and this is always made more difficult when it is a ‘he said, she said’ situation.