Bullying at work: Ask the expert

My boss is bullying me, but I work in an office which offers flexible working which is rare in my profession and I am well paid for my work which I generally enjoy. I don’t think taking a grievance will make any difference [I have seen someone else go through this process and they didn’t get anywhere]. Should I just leave and get a full-time job elsewhere or should I continue to suffer the stress caused by the bullying [which is causing me sleepless nights and stomach problems] and just try to keep my head down and hope he moves on to someone else?

Man bullying a woman sitting at a desk


First of all, believe it or not, bullies tend to be people who have very low self-esteem, and being unpleasant to other people makes them feel better about themselves. But the danger is the longer they bully, the lower the self-esteem of their ‘target’ becomes.

You seem to think that your only option if you left would be to find a full-time job elsewhere. Do you know for sure that there would be no alternatives within the same organisation? Do you know for sure that there are no part time jobs doing the same thing for another organisation?

Also, you say that you ‘generally’ enjoy the job and seem grateful for the fact you work part-time and are well paid. Have you thought that there might be a job out there that you absolutely love, that is part-time, well-paid with a boss you adore? I would urge you to believe more in yourself and your ability to get a wonderful job and not just settle and be grateful for what you have – which is less than ideal. I would also urge you to look at what’s important – is the money more important than your health, for example, which appears to be suffering as a result of this boss?

If you decide not to initiate a grievance procedure, and to stay, you have two options. Either you confront your boss, or decide to change the way you deal with it.

If you confront him, I would recommend (and this is obviously general advice, as I don’t know what type of a person he is) explaining what behaviour it is specifically that is the problem, and be specific. The more specific you are about the behaviour, the less it will come across as criticising his entire personality (which you may want to do anyway, but I would not advise it!) and it will help him to do something about it. Then explain how it makes you feel. Then make a request of him – how you would like him to behave differently. Again, be specific. See if anything changes, and if it doesn’t think of your options again.

If you decide not to confront him, and to stay, then you will need to be very strong and make a decision that you will not let it affect you. You may want to get some coaching on this if this is what you decide to do.

The most important thing is that your self-esteem and confidence does not suffer as this can spill into other areas of life – so do something, not nothing, and believe in yourself.

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