Nov 27 2009

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Bully victim must seek help

By Joni Mar, TimesColonist

Q: I am the victim of an office bullying and my supervisor turns a blind eye to the situation. What can I do?

A: We expect bullying will end once we leave the school yard; however, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute (www.workplacebullying.org), almost half of working Americans have been affected by bullying on the job.

Workplace bullies use words or actions to assert power over their targets through aggression. They degrade, belittle, sabotage, threaten or humiliate to psychologically hurt or isolate.

If you feel you are the victim of bullying, first acknowledge that it’s happening and the emotional stress on you. Don’t allow this cruelty to undermine your self-confidence or feel ashamed of yourself. Stop being a target by seeking the advice of a mentor, coach or health professional who understands bullying.

Recognize that the perpetrator needs to control someone who enables or tolerates their behaviour. It continues as long as it is rewarded with the desired reaction or response. What repercussions are you afraid of that are preventing you from standing your ground?

While you can’t change another person, you can influence the situation by asserting yourself. Only confront the bully if your physical safety isn’t threatened. Only address the facts by remaining calm and professional. Don’t show any weakness or self-doubt.

Often subtle, bullying can go undetected — except by the intended target. Document the offensive behaviour and tell your supervisor so it is exposed. If the abuse continues, you can contact the provincial human-rights office or a lawyer to determine your right to recourse.

Bullying doesn’t flourish where it’s not tolerated. If you are not getting the support you need from your leaders, you may decide to leave the workplace with your dignity for an organization committed to a culture of respect.

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