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Battling the bullies

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My manager is using bullying tactics within the ward team against me. I cannot understand why and I am at a loss as to what to do. Where can I look for help?

Bullying can take many forms and it can be shocking to discover that respected work colleagues can subject you to this kind of behaviour.

A starting point is to clarify the nature of the bullying. Does it take the form of overt bullying like undue criticism, verbal harassment or public humiliation? Bullying can often take more subtle forms such as constant refusal to grant reasonable requests, withholding information and so on. Whatever the form, it often works in a cumulative way. It is rarely a one-off occurrence.

It is vital to keep records of incidents over a period of time. Claims of bullying often fall down as allegations are vague in respect of what happened and when.

Obtain your trust’s bullying policy. If this is not available where you work, the human resources department will have a copy. This will set out in detail the procedure and support offered to those who consider they are being bullied.

Reporting bullying can be difficult. The trust will have confidential early-stage procedures for dealing with this. You will be able to obtain expert help, support and advice before you cnfront the person who you consider is bullying you. You should not feel guilty about taking these steps if you feel threatened. Your feelings are a natural reaction to an abnormal event.

At some point you will have to confront the person who is bullying you. Never do this alone. Take a friend or trade union representative to support you at all times.

Bullying is taken so seriously in many trusts that a non-executive board member may be available.

It is hard to be prescriptive about the exact course of action. This will depend on the circumstances and the advice being sought.

Making sure that the person you feel is bullying you is made aware of your concerns early on is important. They can respond and will hopefully cease the bullying. This may nip the situation in the bud before more formal processes are necessary.

You do not have to put up with this kind of behaviour in the NHS.

Chris Pearce formerly a director of nursing, is a life coach

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