Workplace bullying: Know how to identify it and how to deal with it


Do you know that people, on an average, spend one third of their life at work? So, it would be safe to say that your work life affects your overall well-being to quite an extent. Having a healthy work environment is a staple to your health and productivity. But unfortunately, the workplace is no Utopia, and we often find ourselves with co-workers that may bully In such circumstances, we should be able to recognize their bullying behavior and take measures to call a halt on it. Read on to know more on workplace bullying.

To start with, to do anything about workplace bullying, you should be able to spot and stop this behaviour. According to mental health counselor and therapist Dr Arouba Kabir.

Workplace bullying has been researched for over 30 years. According to a 2016 research paper in ResearchGate, the most widely analysed antecedents of workplace bullying include personality, job characteristics, poor psycho-social work environment and leadership styles. And among the results of workplace bullying are intention to quit, low job satisfaction, lowered work engagement, low performance, low physical and psychological well-being and stress.

bullying at work
Being bullied at work can be detrimental to your mental peace. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is workplace bullying?

Dr Arouba Kabir defines workplace bullying as a “harmful, targeting behaviour at work which often involves a dominating colleague – a boss, a supervisor, a manager – taking advantage of a weaker peer in the shadow of ‘healthy’ guidance, ‘healthy’ communication and ‘healthy’ conversation”.

Tune into this podcast if you feel you have a toxic boss!

How to identify workplace bullying

Bullies can often manipulate you into believing that their actions are for your benefit, making it difficult for you to perceive their conniving and self-serving agendas. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify bullies at work.

Check out this Health Shots video by Dr Arouba Kabir to know more about workplace bullying and its mental health implications.

Here are some tips to know who is a bully at work

If someone keeps checking your documents, drawers, laptop, phone, either in your absence or in front of you by insisting that “It’s quite alright”, even though you have communicated that their behaviour is uncomfortable and intrusive, you are dealing with a workplace bully.

“Denying extension of leave or off-time without giving any valid reason, excluding you from social groups or team projects, monitoring your performance excessively, taking credit for your work, providing you the wrong information. All these (instances) come under workplace bullying,” says Dr Arouba Kabir.

Side effects of workplace bullying

In addition to causing mental exhaustion and stress, bullying also affects the social health of a person severely.

“Since you tend to continuously doubt yourself, you might distance yourself from your family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances or other work-peers,” she adds.

It may come as a surprise to you, but workplace bullying can affect your physical health too. “Headaches, loss of appetite, migraines, cardiovascular diseases, acid reflux, acidity, or digestive disorders could be some symptoms of being bullied at work.”

Learning to deal with bullying at work can help you beat workplace stress too!

4 tips to stop workplace bullying

1. Contact authorities

Make sure to start collecting proof as soon as you realize that your co-worker is picking on you. Do not ignore the small things, document it. By taking these actions, your case will be more tangible when you present it to the authority figures. Do not hesitate to reach out to those you have the power to take the necessary action.

workplace bullying
Don’t suffer workplace bullying silently. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Stand up for yourself

As soon as it starts, nip it in the bud. “If you are subtle and assertive, bullies will not dare to pick on you,” shares the expert.

3. Stay connected

More often than not, bullies target people who are less expressive, quiet or ‘lone wolves’. So, make sure you do not isolate yourself at work. If the bullies know that their bad behavior might get out in public, they will hesitate before bothering you.

4. Ask for help

If you think you don’t have the confidence or courage to speak up, then take help from your counselor. They will guide you.



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