Sheroes Hangout is a cafe’ in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, helps acid attack victims fight back social stigma attached to this tragic social inequality. In his winning shot for the Friend-Ship Photography Award
Bullying at work should never happen. Bullying is a crime - employers can be held responsible for it.
What is bullying?
Bullying is the manner in which your boss, a colleague or a friend (?), uses coercion, or threat, to abuse, dominate or intimidate you. An example of this is when your boss/colleagues gang together to undermine you by making fun of your sexuality, or disablity. Picture this. You have autism which makes you sentitive to noise. The boss knows this, but continues to switch the music on in the office despite the fact you have complained about it. You approach the boss requesting they switch the radio off, but they won't because they say they 'like' to listen to music whilst working. Not wishing to make things worst by raising the autism card, you go back to your desk, feeling agitated.
The following day the music in the office is louder. Hesitantly, you approach the manager/colleages and politely ask they turn the volume a down a touch, which they do before pulling faces - you are spoiling the fun for everyone. You go back to your desk, but a few minutes later the volume is back up. Your colleagues are giggling.
The situation goes on for months, and when you begin to feel more agitated, you approach the manager again about the music issue. The manager tells you that you are too 'sensitive', that the music is hardly audible. You go back to your desk and begin to question yourself: paranoia as well as depression are now part of you.
What is indirect bullying?
The most damaging form of bullying is subliminal or indirect. The kind that stabs you in the back. An example of this is when - following on from the example above - one day you walk into the office to find two different radio stations blasting at the same time. Colleagues are staring at you - which radio station is bothering you the most? You approach your manager to ask for assistance, but they say again, that they like their radio on, sorry! You walk to the other end of the office floor and approach the person whose radio it is asking them to turn the music down. At this point you are told to get lost because 'there is no way that you can hear their music from the other end of the office!'
Whether or not a professional office should have music on is immaterial. What this example shows is the manager failing to care for their employee and exposing him to a potential confrontation with another member of stuff. This is no bunter.
Indirect bullying can have devastating effects on your health because it chips away at your self-esteem without you even realising. You are likely to find out when, suddenly, things at work become all too much and your GP signs you off - you have broken down.
How to deal with bullying in the workplace
First of all, you will get a lot of “Just ignore it”, from colleagues in the office. BE CAREFUL. This can be yet another form of bullying, because people in your office are enjoying the entertainment, or what they call 'bunter'.
You must make a note of date/time when people make fun of you - write word-for-word what they say and who says what. Trust no one. There are no friends in the work place and anyone making you believe otherwise lacks experience. The only true friend you have is your good-self - the number one person you must take great care of.
You should be able to approach your big boss, or anyone at the top of the chain. Make a formal complaint to him or via him as to what happened in the office, detailing dates, times and reason(s) for your complaint.
But what happens when your big boss doesn't do anything? What if the situation just got worse?
There are several options that could be explored - all depending on how strong/brave you are.
You could either get your trade unions involved or invest in a lawyer and take your boss to court. Whatever course of action you choose to take do not feel guilty - not even for one moment - for involving colleagues into the legal equation, because they would do exactly the same in your situation.
More on bullying here
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