March saw John Bercow, former Speaker of the Commons, deemed a workplace bully in a scathing report from an independent parliamentary appeals panel. There have been tales of him being wracked with fury, blocking people’s exits, shouting aggressively and being “repeatedly dishonest”. If you’ve recently watched Adam Kay’s medical TV dramatization This is Going to Hurt, you’ll have gained a fly-on-the-wall insight into the horrendous nature of workplace bullying there too.
The worrying thing is that in 2022, workplace bullying is still so rife. It may be the overt and brazen aggression of the likes of Bercow. But it may also be the insidious subtle bullying that involves gas lighting and grinding down one’s confidence. Both are about control and manipulation. Both create fear and take advantage of the power differential. Neither should have a place in the workplace.
Yet still 15% of us have experienced bullying in the workplace and a quarter of employees think their bosses turn a blind eye to it.
Where does bullying flourish?
While you’re in the quagmire of being bullied, and your confidence is taking a battering, it can be difficult to see that the cause of the bullying is not you. It’s nothing that you’ve done. Even if you’ve made a cascade of errors in the workplace there are professional ways to deal with it that don’t resort to bullying tactics.
So, being able to see that bullying only happens in badly run departments or organisations is very difficult to grasp. After a campaign of bullying, you are likely to consider it your fault, especially when most bullies flourish because of frightened supporters who don’t stand up for others, and may even actively participate in the bullying behaviour to escape the spotlight being turned on them. Yet it’s the truth: bullying is a sign that the workplace leaders are actually far from in control.
And this harms everyone. The employers will not be getting the most efficiency and productivity from a bullied employee or those who watch what happens. And the employee is harmed in a spectrum of different ways.
Should you speak up about bullying at work?
In an ideal world, you’d raise your concerns about bullying with strength and be met with professionalism. Supporters would come forwards and the bullying would be stamped out. And in some cases, this is possible and does happen.
However, because bullying going unchecked is so much a reflection of the organisation in which it’s happening, the reality is that for many who are being bullied, this simply isn’t an option.
Nonetheless, you shouldn’t feel a stomach-clenching fear in the presence of anyone in the workplace. And in these situations, with the job market being as favourable to candidates as it is currently, you don’t have to hang around.
Leaving is not a failure
If you’ve been bullied at work, you may feel a mixture of feelings and battle with poor self-confidence. However, leaving is not a failure. Take your skills and professional aptitude and give it to an employer that doesn’t allow bullying to flourish. Now is an excellent time to find a new job. Be honest with your recruitment agency about your reasons for leaving and they can work diligently to equip you with the confidence to thrive in your next role. And if it’s become unbearable, use temporary work to bridge the gap and find your feet again.
Get in touch and let us help.
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