Have you been the victim of repeated mistreatment or workplace humiliation through intimidation or even sabotage? If you have, you are not alone. According to WorkPlaceBullying.org, bullying is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators.” It includes “abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done” (www.workplacebullying.org).
While I have not been the victim of workplace bullying nor am I an expert on this topic, I have witnessed it and understand the challenges it presents for people. Being bullied at work is not something that is openly dealt with here in the UAE or in fact this region. The following are a few suggestions that may assist you with moving forward to a bullying free work environment.
Don’t be afraid to get help and talk about it!
If you are in a situation at work where you feel bullied, talk to those people in your inner circle that you trust. Too frequently people bottle up their emotions and hope that the situation will improve on its own. Don’t be afraid to speak with a counsellor about ways to manage your stress while you figure out a way to move forward. Sometimes moving forward means changing schools as there are instances in which the bully is a member of the administrative team.
Have confidence in yourself and your work
Sometimes when one is being bullied, that person’s self esteem may also come under attack. It is important that you continue to believe in yourself and your work. There are a variety of reasons that lead to someone bullying another person. Keep in mind that their reasons have nothing to do with you. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Do not allow a bully to diminish your sense of self or potential. Go back to old lesson observation feedback and letters of commendations you may have received in the past and read them. Sometimes all we need is a reminder of how good we really are at what we do, to give us the confidence to move forward.
New Country – Build A Network
Most persons who are new to a country will need to do some networking in order to find people that they can rely on and trust. If you are being bullied, it helps to surround yourself with the people that you do trust. Speak to someone in your new network who may have lived in the country longer and who should be able to give you some advise on how to proceed. In the work environment, focus on showcasing your abilities to the people that you trust and pay little attention to those who are not trustworthy or supportive.
Find a mentor in a department other than your own
Some institutions will connect their incoming faculty to a mentor in another department. If your institution does not do this, make time and get to know where the other departments are. Make some new acquaintances. A mentor outside of your department can give you a fresh perspective on the situation and is more likely to offer unbiased advice.
Don’t be afraid to report
Silence is never good in cases where someone is being bullied. Keep a log of the instances in which you felt mistreated. Talk to people about how to make a formal complaint. Speak up and report it to the relevant person/bodies. Sometimes there have been similar reports and your report will only help to strengthen the case against the perpetrator.
Speak to someone in administration
This can be at your school or from another school in the UAE. The expat community is huge and you are sure to meet other administrators outside of your assigned school who should be able to help. If the problem is with your administrator, try to observe protocol as much as possible. Create and leave a paper trail so you can have evidence that you followed protocol.
Do Some Research
There are hundreds of articles that tackle the issue of bullying. Do some research and visit forums that deal with this topic, so as to learn about what others have experienced and possible solutions. In many instances, trained counsellors provide advice. For more scientific research on this topic, I would recommend checking out WorkPlaceBullying.org as a starting point.
Navigating the pressures of teaching can be stressful and overwhelming enough without the added stress of being bullied. Remember that in order to be a good teacher, you must take care of yourself first. If there is one takeaway, it should be that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and that there are resources and people who can assist you. Believe in yourself and get the help that you deserve.
By Jan L. Jones