In the workplace, bullying and gossip may not be as clearly identifiable as one may think. In most cases, workplace bullying can be defined as harassing, criticizing or intimidating an employee or coworker without a clear and justifiable reason for doing so. Gossip is similarly harmful to bullying, although it typically takes place indirectly or “behind the back” of the victim.
While bullying and gossip is clear in some cases, it may not be in others. If you are unsure whether you are being bullied or gossiped about, it is important to understand the situation and any cues that may signal bullying or gossiping.
How Do I Know If I Am Being Bullied Or Gossiped About?
Not all criticism is considered harassment, especially if the criticism is due to a direct reason such as poor work performance. However, it is likely considered workplace bullying or gossip if it meets any of the following criteria. There are several signs that point to both, as shown below:
Being Verbally Mocked Or Harmfully Criticized
Taunting, imitating or mocking another individual negatively is considered bullying, regardless of the reason for doing so. Also, any employee that is verbally abused through criticism that clearly crosses a line is also likely considered to be bullied, whether it is claimed to be in a joking manner or not.
Receiving False Information About Work Directions
Purposely misleading a coworker or employee on their job duties for humor or to compromise their work performance is most often considered bullying in the workplace. The employee, or a witness to the bullying, should take action if this occurs.
Being Excluded From or Interrupted During Conversation
Every employee should have an opportunity to contribute and do their job without being excluded from essential parts of their job description and duty or interrupted inappropriately. Exclusion opens the door for gossip, and in some cases, can be a very likely outcome of it.
Being Referred To Negatively Over Email
Bullying and gossip can also occur over email as well directly in the office. This includes degrading remarks, mocking and other forms of cyberbullying. Individuals who are being bullied, as well as their coworkers who may witness it, should address related concerns to promote a healthy work environment.
Getting Assigned an Excessive Amount of Work
Providing employees and coworkers with an excessive amount of work or work that goes outside their job description is also considered a form of workplace bullying in certain instances. This is sometimes done to make an employee look as if they are lazy or incapable, which is not fair to them or their work-life balance.
What Should I Do If I Am Experiencing Workplace Bullying or Gossip?
There are actions you can take if you believe you may be a victim of workplace bullying or gossip. Most instances of workplace bullying can be handled internally and with the assistance of a human resource (HR) professional. However, there are several ways to handle the situation including the following:
Speak To A Trusted Friend Or Family Member
A good first step to dealing with workplace bullying is opening up to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. They can help you decide on the best step to take to stop the workplace bullying or gossip.
Inform A Manager Or Executive About The Situation
If you are the victim or witness someone who is being bullied by another coworker, talking to a manager about the situation may help, especially if you have trust in the manager or executive. They may be able to take appropriate action toward resolving the situation.
Receive Guidance From An HR Consultant
If you fear you may lose your job or the bullying or gossip will worsen if you speak to a manager or executive, you can talk to an independent HR consultant about your situation. They can provide professional guidance and advise you on the best way to deal with the situation.
Tell The Bullying/Gossiping Employee About Their Actions
Sometimes the bully or the rumormonger does not realize they are being disrespectful or hurtful. Even if they are, they may stop if you simply talk to them directly and inform them about how the situation is affecting you.
Schedule a 1-on-1 with a remote HR consultant today!
If you are unsure whether you are being bullied or gossiped about, or need guidance with your situation, speak with one of our remote HR consultants. We are glad to discuss your experience with workplace bullying or gossip and advise you on the next step to take. Give HR Search & Rescue a call at (844) 934-3293 or schedule a 1-on-1 meeting today.