Bullies on the Job: A Strategy for Communicators
Presenter: Tanya Pobuda
Podcast due date: March 3, 2017
Thumbnail Summary: While the communications sector can be creative and exciting, professional communicators can often face long days on the job, stressful working conditions and sometimes, they can encounter bullies. According to a 2014 nationwide CareerBuilder survey, 45% of Canadian workers report being bullied on the job.This podcast walks professional communicators through some practical tips and approaches for dealing with workplace bullies.
Hello and welcome to CommTalk.
Today’s topic is ‘Bullies on the Job: A Strategy for Communicators’ I’m Tanya Pobuda, your host. I’m a 24 year-veteran of the communications sector.
I can tell you that the world of professional communications can be a fast-paced an
exciting one. Supporting international press campaigns or developing national ad campaigns can be creative and fulfilling. But there are challenges.
Professional communicators can often face long days on the job, stressful working conditions and sometimes, difficult team mates. Difficult managers, difficult clients. And sometimes these people we encounter during our work days aren’t just difficult. Sometimes they can be bullies. What’s a bully? Bullying can make some of us think back to our days on the playground. Spitballs. ‘Kick Me’ signs.
In fact, a bully on the job, like the bully on the playground, might engage in teasing, pranks and hostile comments. You might have a colleague who shares insulting remarks online or makes cutting remarks about you in meetings. A supervisor might systematically demean or criticize your work in front of other members of your team.
According to a 2014 nationwide CareerBuilder survey, 45% of Canadian workers report being bullied on the job. A study released in early February 2017 by the London School of Economics revealed that being bullied can have long-term health impacts. You might experience insomnia, stomach pains and headaches if you are bullied on the job.
So what is a professional communicator to do? First, do what we do best. Research, assess and then communicate.
Start by knowing your rights. Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act protects workers from harassment at work. Your employer has an obligation under the act to support all employees, and protect them from harassment, intimidation and abuse on the job.
Next, write down what is happening, when it happened, who was there and how the behaviour made you feel. Keep that record secure, somewhere you can access it outside your workplace. Not only is the act of writing it down therapeutic, but it might be important part of a legal record if the bullying escalates.
Tell your workplace bully that his or her behaviour makes you uncomfortable. Be factual, polite and use ‘I statements.’ For example, say: “when my work is criticized in front of other team mates, I feel very embarrassed.” Log and date this discussion. If the conduct doesn’t stop, your next step is to report the behaviour to your human resources professional.
Remember, bullying doesn’t happen because you aren’t good at your job. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, targets tend to be disportionately more technically skilled, independent, empathetic and ethical than their bullies. Often targets are singled out simply because they are well liked by others.
After you’ve effectively communicated your concerns, kept a record of the events and advised everyone of your expectations for behaviour in your workplace, the onus is on your employer to act.
Don’t ever tolerate bullying in the workplace. Do what we communicators do best: communicate effectively to stop bullying in its tracks.
Thank you for listening to CommTalk. I’m your host Tanya Pobuda. Have a great day.
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