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Bullying in the workplace: what can I do?

Taunts, exclusion, whispering ... Bullying in the workplace is unfortunately not uncommon. We talked to an expert about where bullying starts and what you can do.

Photo: TIC12 / iStock
  1. An expert gives advice on what you can do to prevent workplace bullying
  2. Mr. Juchniewicz, where does the funny banter stop and where does bullying begin?
  3. What can I do if I am bullied myself?
  4. Which motives are behind bullying?
  5. What is internet bullying? What can one do with this particular form of bullying?

An expert gives advice on what you can do to prevent workplace bullying

Bernhard Juchniewicz is president of the ECA (European Coaching Association), where he also works as a coach. Since 1976, the graduated pedagogue and diploma social worker has been advising people in particularly stressful working and life situations. He talked to us about workplace bullying .

Mr. Juchniewicz, where does the funny banter stop and where does bullying begin?

A rough fun alone does not have to be a sign of bullying yet. There are companies where a harsh tone of voice is just a part of it, and those who find it hard to respond to a teasing swiftness may sometimes feel bullied.

Even if you feel uncomfortable in the face of such treatment: If a healthy climate prevails in a company (or in a family, social group, department), then every party involved from time to time becomes the victim of a rude choice of words or tasteless fun.

You should notice if you really notice that you are treated systematically and purposefully differently than the others. This applies both to the behavior of superiors to their employees (or teachers to students) and to the behavior of colleagues, classmates among themselves. (See also: Bullying at school: how can I help my child?)

Some features that may indicate bullying include:

  • The conversation abruptly stops when you enter the room (this experience makes you more than once).
  • You feel like you're talking about you behind your back.
  • You are constantly criticized.
  • You are interrupted when you want to say something.
  • You feel that information is withheld from you.
  • You meet them with derogatory gestures and exchange meaningful looks when you speak.

The perpetrator - the bully - initially feels it legitimate to exclude his victim because of his alleged otherness. If the Gemobbte does not defend itself, this can be a confirmation for the perpetrator to carry on. And if neither the victim nor his colleagues oppose the perpetrator with a clear "stop" signal, he will also be able to easily ignore a possibly existing wrongdoing.

What can I do if I am bullied myself?

Very important: do not try to do it all on your own.

Make a note of the incidents and first consult someone in your area whom you trust, and let the person know about the current and past events. Get back-up by informing colleagues who appreciate you.

In companies, a works council, a supervisor or a shop steward can be a contact point. If you do not trust a colleague or an in-house position, contact an external counseling center or coach.

Restrict the perpetrator and inform others that there are other sources of information about bullying. If you feel strong enough, go to your bully and ask for a clarifying conversation. Even if this can lead to an escalation of bullying, it always changes the dynamics of the situation.

Photo: esolla / iStock

Which motives are behind bullying?

On the whole, bullying targets the exclusion or removal of a person or a group (or a company) from a social fabric (eg a company, a department).

Often envy and resentment are the motives that lead to bullying. Bullying is more likely to occur in competitive situations, with high work pressure and poorly or wrongly defined responsibilities.

Bullying occurs among people who have a clearly defined social relationship, such as colleagues, classmates or people who are in a hierarchical relationship with each other (supervisor - employee, student - teacher).

What is internet bullying? What can one do with this particular form of bullying?

There are parallels with stalking here. Cyberbullying is about slandering, threatening, defaming, or harassing people through the Internet, mainly in social networks and chat rooms.

The sender of the abuses usually remain anonymous. Originally, adolescents were the victims of cyberbullying, and now the discrediting of adults on the Internet is also increasing. Both men and women, for example, are victims of sexual harassment, teachers are abused anonymously or companies and freelancers are victims of Rufmordattacken.

For defamation on the Internet "secure" the relevant bodies. Ask the provider for deletion of the data in the network and inform the security of sender data and the police. You can obtain injunctive relief claims or be prosecuted for insulting.

Parents should be aware of what personal information their children make accessible on the Internet and do not fail to inform the school about cyberbullying