Bullying is abusive behaviour where a person, or a group of people, create an intimidating or humiliating work environment for an individual. This is with the purpose of harming the individual’s dignity, safety and well-being or employment status.
Being bullied can leave people anxious and depressed and can have a negative impact on their family and social life outside of work. If a colleague or manager discriminates against you because of your stammer, or shows aggressive or intimidating behaviour, this could be harassment. This is illegal under the Equality Act 2010.
If you'd like to talk to someone, call our helpline or send us an email.
Bullying can include:
- Damaging someone’s professional reputation or relationships.
- Leaving someone out or excluding somebody on purpose.
- Breaking confidence or embarrassing someone in public.
- Spreading rumours about someone and trying to get others to join in.
- Trying to get others to avoid having contact with the victim.
- Derogatory comments on social networking sites.
Bullying cannot be explained or excused as:
- Differences of opinion. If you are being systematically belittled, excluded or intimidated, you are not just clashing with someone – this is bullying.
- Character building. Derogatory remarks and actions will not build character – the effects can be destructive, affecting one’s mental health, family relationships and ability to perform in a job.
- A 'Management Style'. Aggressive or dominant managers may try and pass bullying off as their management style.
- Provoked. Bullying is never the victim's fault and will be motivated by the perpetrator's insecurities, prejudices and/or career ambitions.
If you are being bullied, all incidents are relevant, because they establish a pattern. Give our free helpline a call on 0808 802 0002 or start a webchat, both open Mon to Fri 10am-12noon & 6pm-8pm – we're here to support you.
If you are being bullied, all incidents are relevant, because they establish a pattern. And give us a call – we’re here to support you. Talk to someone you trust: another colleague, friend or family member. Talking can be a huge relief, as you’ll realise you are not alone going through this process, and will have support dealing with the problem.
- Keep notes. Include what was said, the date, time, place, what happened and names of everyone who was there. Get these notes down as soon as you can, and keep notes of each occasion.
- Talk to the person. It may not be possible, but if you can, find a quiet moment and start with an informal conversation with the person who is bullying you, if it feels safe. Let them know that you are not comfortable with their behaviour. They need to know that their behaviour affects you, and that you will take further action if it does not change. Some people are genuinely unaware that their bullying behaviour IS bullying. So, if you feel comfortable doing so, let them know, they may be mortified.
- Talk to management and HR. If you don’t feel able to have the conversation with the person who is bullying you, or if the conversation did not go well and the bullying continues, tell your manager and HR dept about the problem. If the person bullying you is your manager, speak to their manager instead. Your organisation should have a policy to guide you through procedure for complaints like this. When HR deals with your complaint, they will ask you and other people questions about your experiences, which is when your notes recording the incidents of bullying, will be needed.
- Know your organisation’s policies. Find out your organisation's policies on bullying so you can make sure that the policies are followed and the situation is dealt with properly.
- Make a complaint. If things still aren’t changing, make an official complaint through your organisation’s Grievance Procedure. Information on how to do this should be available in your organisation’s handbook or on their intranet system.
If after these steps the problem is still not resolved, you can take legal action at an employment tribunal. Your employer should, by law, protect you from abusive behaviour at work.
It can take time to build back confidence, self esteem and for you to feel comfortable around people.
If the bullying has affected your mental health, talk to your GP. You may need time off work and to work with a therapist to help to you get through this period. Many people experience anxiety or stress at work, and it is normal to seek professional help to deal with bullying and to fully recover.
Finally, if you are coming to terms with your own experience, or supporting someone else who has experienced bullying because of their stammer, have patience. It can take time for someone to be able to process what they’ve gone through and recover their confidence.
Visit the website stammeringlaw.org.uk for a wealth of information on stammering and UK disability discrimination law.