February 18, 2011

Workplace Harassment and Bullying

Harassment or bullying in the workplace is very common.

It can create confusion as it is often initially very hard to understand, bullying behaviours can be quite illogical and manipulative. A lot of time and energy can go into trying to understand or finding a 'reason' for such conduct.
Help can come from you immediate Manager, Human Resources, Employment Assistance Program or the Union. Grievance procedures can be followed if you being unfairly treated by a colleague.

There are typical behaviours to look out for, such as:
  • Controlling situations regardless of other people's opinions or input
  • Finding fault, flaws and potential errors as a pattern
  • Approval seeking behaviours
  • Seeking attention at all costs, cannot stand being overlooked or ignored
  • Threatening behaviours
  • Covert or inappropriate responses or behaviours
  • Creating divisions with other work colleagues
  • Inappropriate humour
Bullying behaviours in the workplace are a distortion of what would be logical reactions and responses of the need to be successful in the working environment. The bully often appears organised and is convincing. Dealing with bullying behaviour can take a lot of strength and evergy to endure.

Once the feelings and understanding of bullying and harassment have been identified the following ways of dealing with it are important:

  • Stop trying to understand or make sense of the illogical, confusing behaviours' of the bully 
  • Don't get sucked into believing it's your fault 
  • Don't confront a bully, if required always have a third person attending 
  • Keep all evidence eg. diarise, take copies of emails, phone messages etc. (don't rely on your memory) 
  • Avoid isolation, stay in contact with supportive people
  • Care for yourself with relaxation and pleasurable activities in your life outside work
  • Use a personal journal of your thoughts and feelings
  • Be prepared to leave or resign if you need to, however make sure you leave with all your entitlements and get help from the appropriate people if needed
Seek professional help to make sense of what's happening and regain strength and confidence. Contact us for our programs, support groups and Counselling services on 02 9542 4029 or visit our website www.enoughisenough.org.au.

Deborah, Counsellor at Enough is Enough


  1. Unfortunately workplace bullying is not against the law unless it involves a physical action, racist, sexist or other action which are defined in discrimination laws. Why should people be prepared to leave their jobs.... this is not fair.... How can we STOP the bullies....

    So if you get bullied, you may as well hope that they try to have a grope as well, as this is the only way you will get action.

  2. I work for a small company (approx 40 employees). I am being bullied by a dept manager although she is not my boss. She has bullied others and they quit. I am not in a position to quit due to the limited employment opportunities in this economy. She is the manager of one other person (her sister). I believe she feels threatened by my intelligence and ability to perform her job better than she can. The problem is she is personal friends of the general manager. They socialize after hours. The general opinion of most of the employees is that she should've been fired long ago. I have been put into a position where I must work with her on a limited basis and she is making my work life hell. I have had 3 meetings in the span of 2 days to try to resolve the "problem". The problem is her abusive, condescending language and desire to discredit anything I say or do. I am at a loss. Is there anything I can do about this except quit?

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  4. I suffered bulling to the first degree from my former boss which I wrote extensive about it to her boss but nothing was done to correct the mess. Rather I was not promoted to do the job that I was over qualified, but was transferred to another area of less important. I was subjected under situation that was humanly impossible to work, was bulled, was told that I was no good, was cursed, and above all was reduced to a background of insignificant, was also intimidated. When I want in to my bosses office to talk to her about my situation with her she actually told me that she dose not want to see me was very violent to me took the pen in her hand threw it to the floor and said that she does not care.

  5. This blog is not only informational but I believe it is motivating too. Workplace harassment can be on individual's race, color, gender, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristic protected by law. We should know it and fight against the injustice happening to us in the workplace.

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  6. Hi

    I was recently terminated 3 weeks after filing a harassment claim against my manager. I spent months taking verbal abuse, and felt that I was completely incompetent. For every person out there being bullied, stand up, don't take it. Leaving the organization is the best thing that has happened to me. Keep strong!

  7. I work for a trucking company I have been there for a couple years. Recently I've noticed that people from other trucking companies started giving me the finger. Not sure what I did I tried asking a couple drivers what the problem was. No one is willing to tell me what the problem is. That started 5 months ago now it is out of hand seems like every truck I pass is doing it and now they are starting to cut me off turning there high beams on while driving at me. It makes a stressful job Evan worse. Any ideas might help thx