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Corporate Bullying: How To Deal With It

Prevention of Bullying needs a change of systems and the environment in which we function

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We all have our own definitions or yardsticks of mistreatment - from others and towards others. It is a very personal sense of feeling violated, of being sensitive, and of taking offence. Unfortunately, most of us are not really in touch with that personal yardstick, of the boundary that tells us that this much is ok and beyond it, is not. It is only when we are mistreated by someone that we realize, "Oh! That hurt!" For many of us, it still doesn't really register. We need many more such reminders and accumulated hurt / anger / pain / sorrow to move us. Even then, we may have doubts about our perception of our own pain - "Maybe it's not so bad. I might be PMSing." Or, we may have an exaggerated tendency to give others the benefit of doubt - "Perhaps he didn't mean it this way. It could just be his way of talking." Very often, post such a realization we find that so much time has gone by that now there's 'no point' in doing anything about it.

This is the mechanism that sustains Bullying.

If we want to break out of the Bullying cycle, we need to beat this disconnected, defeatist, resigned attitude in us. Here, we are not talking of prevention. Prevention of Bullying needs a change of systems and the environment in which we function. As long as we are competing for limited resources or a coveted position, the environment will be ripe for mistreatments, abuse, and bullying. So, we are looking at how to handle bullying if we come across it.

1.    Do not attempt to PREVENT bullying - That would mean you keep scanning the environment for potential bullies. You may not only lose your peace of mind in the process but also turn a bit paranoid.  No fun being that way!

2.    Wire yourself to be Happy - Focus on and do things that make you feel good - a pretty plant, the smell of winters, a friendly nod from a colleague, a word of praise, working out, chatting with friends, prioritizing your work and finishing it on time. Consciously taking yourself on this track makes you wired towards your own nurturance & happiness. How does this help? - It rings an alarm the moment the smallest of violations take place. One can then, not only identify it as abuse or bullying, but also find it easier to act against it.

3.    Talk about it - If you feel that you are being treated in a way that you do not approve of, or that its making you feel bad but you're not sure if its your own sensitivity or the other's behavior, talk to someone you trust. Preferably, let this person be someone outside the work setting. This will lead to greater objectivity.

4.    Stand up for yourself - Say 'STOP'. Unwanted behaviours don't really stop unless you let the person know. It is important that you let the person know that you are not ok with it - firmly. Most abusive and bullying behaviours continue because the bully knows that you won't speak up or point it out. A very good way to stop that behaviour is by calling it out. Work on that aspect. Figure out what stops you from speaking up.

5.    Report bullying - If the bullying persists, inform your seniors, but only those who have it in their power to take action. Be warned anyway that the situation may take any turn. There are some bosses who would have the courage and the sense to act against bullying. At the same time there are those bosses who chose to ignore such complaints and decide to favor the bully. In case your boss belongs to the latter category, you may want to look for other job options on the side.

6.    Gather support - Regardless of who all you discuss the bullying with, it is imperative that you connect with all the people who make you feel supported - friends, family, relatives, and colleagues. You will need to feel wanted and cared for, feel that you belong. During any kind of crises, it is common for us to start isolating ourselves. We need to ensure that we do not withdraw from people but instead keep ourselves cushioned.

7.    Seek Professional Help - If things being to appear a bit out of control, seek help from a psychotherapist. Work on your vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

One of the worst things that you can do to yourself in the face of any crises is to isolate yourself. Make sure you keep your support system in place. Work out alternative options. Even if you have constraints and you can't leave the job, you don't need to continue enduring the mistreatment. Remember, there is always a way out!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Corporate Bullying corporate opinion

Dr Sanjay Chugh

The author is a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist

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