Bullying is conscious behaviour that is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting and happens persistently over a period of time.
Bullying could include:
- Being called names
- Deliberately being ignored or excluded
- Constant criticism or ‘putting down’
- Spreading rumours
- Setting you up to fail
- Aggressive behaviour – shouting, intimidation and threatening behaviour
- Using a position of power to make you feel threatened or undermined
- Making threats about job security or blocking your progress
When people from different backgrounds or experiences come together in a work environment, we cannot expect to behave in the same way to when we are hanging out with a group of friends or family who generally share similar views and behaviours.
People will have different ideas on a range of issues including what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. This can lead to situations where people feel like they are being bullied or not realising that their actions are making someone else feel like they are being bullied:
- Teasing/joking – When two people are teasing or making jokes about each other and both parties seem to be giving as good as they get, this could be considered banter between two people who know each other. If the joking and teasing is only one-sided and is repeated, then this could be considered bullying.
- Fighting/aggression – There may be heated occasions in a workplace where different personalities clash and someone becomes aggressive. If the aggressive behaviour is a one-off incident and doesn’t continue, this would not be considered bullying. After all, we don’t always know what is going on with someone else and why they might have reacted this way on this occasion.
- Isolated incidents – Being excluded from an activity, aggressive behaviour, arguments or telling a joke involving a colleague can all be upsetting if you’re on the receiving end, but in isolation these things aren’t necessarily considered bullying. However, if this behaviour happens often is carried out to gain power or control, then this would be considered bullying.