#YesSheCan Answers: How do I deal with bullying in the workplace?

Bullying can often be perceived as something only children to in school – unfortunately, it can carry on even into adulthood. One of the areas it can start to happen in is the workplace. It can leave us feeling uncomfortable and even make us lose passion for our careers.
In this #YesSheCan blog, we will be focusing on signs to spot, the ways we can deal with bullying and find a solution to stop it in the workplace.

Signs of bullying

When ‘banter’ and jokes turn into something more serious.

In the workplace, harmless banter is the most common – jokes to set out to make people laugh – followed by ignorant banter – like harmless banter, but people are often at the centre of the joke which may lead to hurting someone unintentionally.

However, it’s when this banter turns into malicious banter is when ‘a laugh’ can affect someone’s life and it turns into harassment and bullying. This can happen in person and even via email, text or through social media.

You’re Intentionally being isolated

Social events, networking and team meetings are an important part of work life. It helps us understand our peers, leaders and lets us collaborate. When you or someone else is being left out from these, it can not only make us feel unhappy but can even negatively impact our work. It may make us feel like people in our workplace our making it harder for us to achieve great work.

Criticism is a daily occurrence

Receiving constructive criticism or feedback can be really helpful and can guide us to improve our work positively. However, it’s when feedback turns into criticism, repeated small jabs or even unreasonable punishments or threats regarding your job.

25.4% say they have been made to feel left out at work

Effects of workplace bullying

When you are the victim of bullying in the workplace, it can create a cloud of negativity which can follow you around on a daily basis. It can cause feelings of:

  • Loss of passion for our career
  • Not wanting to go to work
  • Loneliness
  • Intimidation
  • Fear of peers or leaders
  • Decline of our mental health
  • Feeling humiliated


Even if we’re not the victim of bullying, when we witness it in the workplace it can cause similar feelings.

“What if I’m next?” “I need to work harder and faster to avoid this happening to me!”

It can make us feel helpless, if we’re the victim or a witness, and it feels as though there is no exit to this constant behaviour. It might even feel like an endless loop and especially if a leader is acting like this, it might feel like if we tell someone, we won’t be believed.

However, this isn’t the case!

26% of people said workplace bullying affected their wellbeing negatively.

Finding a solution

Every organisation that you work for should have a policy on workplace bullying and harassment that should detail what bullying is and how your employer deals with it.

If your organisation doesn’t, don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you’re left in the dark. By law, your employer has a legal duty of care to protect you whilst at work.

Before getting to the end stage of reporting a person or persons, there are steps you can take to build confidence to reach out and find a solution.

1. The first is to collect evidence

This can be in the form of logging conversations you have in person and potential witnesses to it and screenshotting or saving emails/texts/messages.

Doing this can pull that experience of bullying more into reality – you’ve now got physical proof of that bullying. Evidence will be an integral part too of the reporting process.

2. Tell someone you trust

Speaking up, whether that’s internally in the workplace or externally, can ease the weight of that bullying from your shoulders. This doesn’t immediately have to be HR but can be a friend or family member, posting on an online forum or contacting an external organisation.

You can tell them how you’re feeling, where this behaviour happens and who is doing it. Ultimately, you can express anything your comfortable with and regardless this is an important and brave step to take.

3. Report the bullying

Once your confidence to reach out has increased and you feel comfortable and safe doing so, you can report the bullying. If this is being doing by a peer, report it to your leader or employer. If it’s from your leader, contact HR or an external support organisation.

Although bullying is not against the law, discrimination and harassment is. This doesn’t mean if you’re being bullied that you shouldn’t report it – any type of harassment needs to be dealt with appropriately.

After reporting, you will improve you situation and perception of your career as well as potentially being a Role Model for others to stand up and report this behaviour.

If you’re witnessing bullying behaviour and want to help stop it, you can also follow these steps and do your best to support the victim. It’s important to open communication with this person so you can acknowledge your concern with them.

Anti-bullying Week (15th-19th November) is about raising awareness of this behaviour and encouraging others to speak out and find a positive solution so they can be happy and less alone.
No one deserves to feel worthless, unhappy, or discouraged in any part of their life, especially in their careers. If you need support, we’ve included links to external organisations below.
Our membership has a collection of career development workshops from inspirational women to give you a helping hand to building your skills and confidence. You can find out more and sign up here!

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