If I’ve learned anything over my career, it’s that bullying can come in a multitude of forms. It’s not just the hair pulling in the playground type stuff any more. Often the incidents can be so small that you feel stupid for raising them at all. But when those small incidents happen time and time again, they all build up and before you know it you are dreading going into work every morning.
I’m a firm believer that having someone to talk to when you are experiencing something like bullying is a massive help. Someone telling you that your feelings are valid can be more helpful than anything – especially in times when you don’t feel that you can go to your manager or HR with the issue.
My main advice for someone who is being bullied is to write everything down. Those “small” incidents in isolation can feel silly or insignificant, but when you write them down, you start to see that they are things which are happening on a daily, weekly, or even hourly basis.
So what is bullying?
As someone who has been bullied, here is a selection of the actual things which I have written down over the years:
- My team went out for lunch and didn’t invite me [there has been multiple incidences of this]
- A call I was expecting wasn’t passed through to me
- I was told that I needed to stay late to get a particular job done because it will “help your promotion” [a promotion I was subsequently turned down for because I was “just an assistant”]
- I spent weeks working on a project with a small team of people, and when it came to present this project to the rest of the company, someone else was asked to present my section. This was someone who had not been involved with the project at all. After the presentation, the team were all thanked, and I didn’t even get a mention
- Having my request for budget for a new kettle declined and then being told off by that person in front of the CEO because the kettle no longer worked
- Talking to my colleague who simply turned their chair away from me while I was mid-sentence
- Being given a list of reports to run/write for a meeting, and then being told that I wasn’t required at that meeting as I sat down in it. With all the reports
- I was asked to come in early one morning to help with some report binding. The person who asked me to come in late left me standing outside waiting for them, and then laughed at me for it
- When my colleague left, I had to check through all of her emails to pick up anything that was outstanding. I found emails from her to several of my colleagues calling me names
- Going back after being off sick for two days to a desk where one of my screens had been removed for someone else
- Being told, as my colleague walked out the office one lunchtime, that I had been put on their out-of-office message and that they wouldn’t be back for the rest of the week
- A colleague told me that someone had asked him what I do “all day”. He told me that he had “put them straight” and then refused to tell me who it was . It felt like his aim was to make me feel paranoid.
Some of these things turned out to be completely isolated incidents. I simply moved on and didn’t take them any further. One of them was the last straw in a run of things which ultimately lead to me resigning.
My point with this post is that you never know when something might turn into bullying. So it’s best to keep a note of things which happen right from the very first one. Sometimes the build up can happen so slowly that you don’t notice how you feel about it until you are being told by your doctor that you are being signed off work.
Remember that it’s better to write something down and not need it, than to be in a situation where you are having to recall a load of incidents from memory. Know that no-one has the right to tell you that how you feel doesn’t matter, or that you shouldn’t be feeling how you are feeling. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or vulnerable, it’s your right to have those feelings.
If you are feeling like you are being bullied and don’t have anyone close to you that you can talk to, know that I’m here. If you need to vent, just drop me a line.