Workplace Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination

In the present day, bullying has become a common practice all over the country, and for the new generation it is known as “New Normal”. But, there is a type of bullying that is never considered as traumatic for the individual and even not considered as an aspect of bullying, which is known as “Workplace Bullying“. In this article, there is an emphasis on workplace bullying, its effects on the individual’s life, and how at one point in time, it gets converted into Social Harassment.

Workplace Bullying refers to harmful, targeted behaviour with a motive to personally hurt or insult someone at the place of work. It can include, targeting, mocking, spying, insulting in front of everybody, always putting the individual down, degrade, or intimidating. It can even become a habit of an individual to bully someone or a few people in the workplace; this can also refer to imposing one’s thoughts and beliefs on the other person by means of aggression or threatening. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in cyberbullying seen.

What are the Examples of workplace bullying?

Sometimes, we confused workplace bullying by expressing your own ideas or beliefs with attitude and confidence. But, this is not any type of bullying instead it is known as Assertiveness which is an important life skill, but when this expressing of thoughts and ideas gets converted into imposing yourself on the other person who is somehow affecting the other person’s mental well-being and breaking down their self-esteem and confidence. Then, this type of behaviour is known as Workplace Bullying. But, the main question here arises is how one can know that it is a type of bullying?

Here are the few instances which might help one to identify bullying in the workplace

  • Spreading rumours, gossip about the targeted person’s personal life.
  • Stealing the targeted individual’s work
  • Isolating or excluding the person from the social group or unit in the workplace
  • Provoking or intimidating the targeted person
  • Hurting the person personally
  • Constantly changing the work guidelines and affecting the person’s work balance or giving unclear directions about the work
  • Insulting and humiliating the targeted person in front of everybody
  • Overly harsh or unjust criticisms
  • Making persistent negative comments about the person’s appearance, family, culture, beliefs, background, and ideas
  • Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or their work equipment.

Does workplace bullying have converted into bullying as social harassment?

Yes, especially in the workplace domains, bullying has now become social harassment which includes tampering person’s self-esteem and confidence, Insulting the person in front of the whole social group, discriminating the person’s on their skin colour, body shaming, showing disgust, degraded comments which somehow affects the person’s mental well-being and even stop them going outside in social engagements and even taking professional help if they are suffering from depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder experienced due to workplace bullying and this whole process leads to a big Stigma on mental illness which heads up curbing the expression of emotions or anxiety in society as society believed that it would unleash forces which can affect its social norms and regulations. A large number of employees face bullying every day in their places of work and according to a survey done by a company revealed that more than 55% of employees experience bullying at their workplace’s everyday which can include false accusations, social harassment, and constant criticisms by their managers, or heads. The two most common bullying which employees faced includes false accusations which they, in reality, didn’t commit and it just imposed on the person to humiliate them or for the person’s entertainment followed by being ignored wherein their ideas, and comments are disregarded or not even considered.

How can workplace bullying traumatise the individual’s mental well being?

Bullying can really prove to be very dangerous and devastating for the targeted person, and it can even affect the person’s daily personal, social, and occupational functioning.

How it affects the mental well being and bring a range of effects and verge of emotions, we shall view in the points written below:

  • It can bring shock, anger, stress, and feelings of frustration, helplessness, and hopelessness to the targeted person.
  • It can also lead to deteriorating physical health such as experiencing headaches, feeling fever, nausea, or anxious while thinking about work.
  • Bullying can lead to job performance in terms of lower self-esteem, lower productivity, having trouble in making decisions at the workplace.
  • It can increase absenteeism, stress, and lower self- concept and self- efficacy.
  • It can also lead to insomnia symptoms, not able to take a sound sleep, and loss of appetite.
  • Bullying can also lead to the forming of different types of phobia such as social phobia which refers to avoiding social situations due to fear of embarrassment.
  • It can also lead to ulcers, higher blood pressure, and a higher heartbeat when encountering such social situations and embarrassments.
  • It can also decrease the individual’s motivation to work and morale.
  • It can also lead to severe risk of incidents or accidents due to bullying.
  • Increased turnover and can lead to poor customer services.

How to deal with bullying if one ever experienced it?

There are no legal laws in India to protect oneself from the bullying occurring in the workplace. But, these cases are dealt under different sections of Indian Penal Code which include, Section 399 that state about wrongful restraint which refers to becoming an obstacle in the way of the person or stopping them moving ahead in a particular direction, Section 340 that state about Wrongful Confinement, Section 506 which is a punishment for criminal intimidation that is an intention to harm somebody physically or mentally, Section 323 which include Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt to somebody in the workplace and Section 306 under abetment of suicide.

These are all the legal sections that are stated in our IPC but there are some pointers or ways which one can perform in order to deal with this kind of workplace bullying. Before following any of these ways, just firstly remind oneself that it is not one’s fault that one is being bullied or there is no problem in one’s appearance or one’s dressing sense which stimulates the bulling.

So, one can begin the action against bullying by taking these steps-

  • The most important step one can take to stop the bullying is to report it to higher administrative heads of the workplace. One can daily note down all the bullying actions in a diary and can also collect all the physical evidence which can prove that the person is a bully, Such as, keeping all the threatening notes or emails which the bully has sent to you, denied any request for promotion or ignored your ideas, so on, and keep them in the safe place from the bully.
  • Another step that one can take to stop the bullying is to confront the bully and tell them how it is affecting them, and how this behaviour has an impact on oneself and work.
  • If this bullying did not stop even after reporting or confronting and if, it is really traumatising one’s mental well-being, then the individual can seek legal advice from their lawyers which can help them to deal with this kind of situation.
  • The most important step one can take is not to let the anger or the traumatisation come outside your workplace that is in your personal life which can impact your family, friends, and even your personal functioning.
  • Another step that one can take to stop the bully is to interact with your co-workers and find out whether they are also experiencing bullying as you are. One can ask them to document all the bullying they are experiencing and then a group, all can go and complain to the higher authorities.
  • Do not retaliate. One can end up looking like a bully oneself and this will create confusion leading to no justice and punishment to the targeted person and the bully respectively.

Bullying is not an entertainment or any type of fun; instead, it is traumatising and even death-causing.

So, STOP BULLYING, it is a heinous crime.