How Do You Know You Are the Victim of Workplace Bullying?

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Written By Adeyemi Adetilewa

You may have thought you had left the bullies in the school playground but, unfortunately, they grew up and entered the workforce too.

They may no longer start physical fights but there are lots of ways for bullies to operate in the working environment and sometimes you may not even be aware that you are a victim. Here are some traits to help you decide if you are being bullied and what you should do if you are experiencing workplace bullying today. 

1. Discrimination

The most common types of workplace discrimination are race, sexual orientation, and gender, but it can relate to any type of behaviour in which you feel you are being victimized because of your personal traits.

Bullies may try to disguise their behaviour as being a joke, but this is not funny. It can lead to you feeling upset, reduce your confidence and lead you not being able to do your job properly. 

If you think you are the victim of workplace bullying, speak to your HR department. The way in which they react is going to be very important in the future. In the fortunate scenario, the HR department will react in a proper way and will stop the bullying. In the unfortunate scenario, nothing will happen and the bullying will continue. 

The important thing about speaking to the HR department is to document everything. Having proof that you did point out the problem will have a lot of weight in the potential lawsuit to come. In fact, when the HR staff does not at least attempt to help you, your claim will end up being even larger. 


2. Gossip

Being unfairly gossiped about in the workplace is a form of workplace bullying. If you did get drunk and fall over in front of the CEO at a work function, you will have to brazen it out. The gossip will get bored and move on to something else eventually.

However, if the gossip is unfair or untrue, you should first try to find the source of this gossip and put them straight. If this still doesn’t work, it may be time to speak to your manager or HR department about it. 

Once again, make sure you document absolutely everything. This will help you with your discrimination claim if it comes to getting attorneys involved. 

3. Stealing Credit

If you feel that someone else has taken credit for your work, this can cause a lot of upset. It may be that your boss is trying to look good to the company or your colleague is trying to get a promotion, but this type of behaviour really isn’t fair.

It can be a good idea to speak to them about why they have done this and aim not to give them too much information about your work in the future. If they know you are not prepared to tolerate them, they will be less likely to do this to you in the future as bullies are quite often cowards at heart. Make sure you are not too confrontational as this could lead to more trouble. 

The big problem with stealing credit is that the person doing it relies on you not fighting back. There is usually some sort of authority discrepancy involved.

Basically, the person that steals credit for your work has more authority than you. They rely on you not saying anything since that may mean you are going to get fired. If you stay quiet, it creates a sense of lack of power that keeps growing. Eventually, all your work will be stolen. 

If you do have proof that your work was stolen from you, it is time to contact attorneys. Even if you do not have proof, you can always contact a lawyer to help you build a future case and teach you how to get the proof you require.

More Subtle Signs Of Workplace Bullying

4. Sabotage

Sabotaging your work is a form of workplace bullying but it can be hard to prove. It may be that you know someone is doing this to you, but it may take you a while to find out who.

Your IT manager may be the best person to go to in this instance as they will be able to trace who has had access or delved into your work. Once you are armed with evidence, your allegation is more likely to be taken seriously.

These are some of the main ways you might find yourself being bullied at work. Report any issues to your line manager or HR department as it is their job to listen.

More Subtle Signs Of Workplace Bullying

Some workplace bullying is obvious but this is not always the case. In so many situations, we actually talk about several things that happen at once.

Subtle signs lead to a huge emotional reaction and a lot of anxiety. This will only establish much greater control over you as the victim. The really subtle signs you have to look for are:

  • Deceit – Constantly repeated lying, hiding the truth and creating only false hopes. 
  • Intimidation – is usually present in the form of veiled or overt threats. 
  • Isolation – When someone is intentionally excluded and even physically isolated, it adds up to workplace bullying. 
  • Minimalization – This includes things like not addressing legitimate concerns, discounting them, and minimizing them. 
  • Diversion – This practically means things like playing dumb, dodging issues, changing the subject, or cancelling meetings. 
  • Shaming – When an employee is constantly made to feel they are the issue’s problem and shaming happens without any wrongdoing. 
  • Responsibility removal – When someone’s responsibilities are removed, roles are changed, and expectations are changed. 
  • Constantly changing expectations – The common problem is setting expectations that are nearly impossible or work guidelines that cannot be met. Actions like these would only set up the employee to end up failing, which would lead to even more shaming. 
  • Mood swings – When emotions and moods are frequently changing. In most cases, this practically means emotions that suddenly and sharply shift without any obvious reason. 
  • Withholding information – This is a big problem when the information is intentionally withheld or when the wrong information is intentionally given, especially when such actions happen several times. 
  • Blame projection – Constantly shifting blame and then using people as scapegoats is something that should not happen. Instead, those guilty of errors need to take responsibility. 
  • Seduction – When someone uses their authority in order to seduce an employee, it is a problem. Usually, this involves excessive use of compliments and flattery. The purpose is often to get others to trust, lower defences, and be susceptible to highly manipulative behaviour in the future. 
  • Making employees feel useless – Another really subtle sign of workplace bullying is when the employee is made to feel underused, is not delegated over others, or there is no communication about progress or work. Basically, the behaviour is all about giving the employee completely unfavourable responsibilities and duties. 

Signs of Workplace Bullying You Must Not Ignore

Here are some subtle and not-so-subtle signs of workplace bullying that employees must never ignore:

  • Discrimination.
  • Gossip.
  • Stealing credit.
  • Sabotage.
  • Deceit.
  • Intimidation.
  • Isolation.
  • Minimalization.
  • Diversion.
  • Shaming.
  • Responsibility removal.
  • Constantly changing expectations.
  • Mood swings.
  • Withholding information.
  • Blame projection.
  • Seduction.
  • Making employees feel useless.

Being a victim of workplace bullying is not something to take lightly. Never believe anyone that tells you actions like the ones presented above is normal in any company.

They should not be and it is vital that you stand up to workplace bullying. This is true as the one bullied and the one that notices bullying. If necessary, get attorneys involved since they can help those discriminated against. 

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