Harassment/bullying in the workplace-10 tips to move forward

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Yesterday, CBC radio revealed some findings of a US study on bullying and workplace harassment.

According to the Workplace Institute in Washington, 13% of Americans are being bullied; 24% have been in the past and 14% have only witnessed an event or events. The study concluded that 54 million Americans have been affected by this damaging issue in the workplace. It's believed that 5 million Canadians are affected by bullying or harassment.

As a certified harassment advisor (one who works on a (potential) harassment case, and a career coach with certification in solution-focused counseling, here is what to do to alleviate harassment or bullying in the workplace:

Professional tips:

1. Keep a detailed journal of what occurred with as many details as possible.
2. If there are witnesses, compile their names.

3. Tell the offensive person that his/her behavior is not acceptable,

4. Go to the supervisor, if necessary.

5. Choose not to react to the bullying or harassing behavior. (Quite often, bullying is power through aggression).

6. Use your company's resources, such as a harassment advisor, mediator or employee assistance program (EAP), if necessary. Many EAP programs offer you a choice of talking to someone by phone or in person,  and possibly seeking assistance outside of your community.

Naturally, harassing behavior or bullying creates stress. I'd like to thank my colleague, Sheryl Pedersen, for inspiring me to blog about this, after taking her workplace stress management seminar today.

Personal tips

7. Take a work stress inventory to identify your sources of stress, your triggers and your current coping mechanisms.

8. Learn to identify and change your "mind maps" (thoughts swirling in your mind) in such a situation and remind yourself that this stressful situation is temporary. You CAN change transform negative thoughts and energy into positive thoughts and positive energy.

I highly recommend Dr. David Burns' book, Feeling Good to deal with defeating your mind's negative thoughts. Dr. Burns uses cognitive behavior tools and techniques to help you "program" your mind in the face of adversity.

9. Write a joy journal to focus on what is going right (this is the focus of my solution-focus training), rather than what is going wrong.

10. Teach your body to relax with "keeping well" resources:
deep breathing, progressive relaxation, mindfulness, guided imagery and relaxing music.

If you are a victim of harassment or bullying in the workplace, a statement from Dr. Ron Warner, who trained me in solution-focused interviewing and counseling, still resonates: " No problem exists 24/7 except for terminal illness or chronic pain."

If you need guidance with these issues, contact me for confidential, one-one-sessions, or join me on liveperson.com.

Melissa Martin

bilingual career coach


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