Stand Up Against Bullying: A blog to help stop workplace bullying
Bystanders Leadership

Being an Active Supporter for Colleagues Facing Workplace Bullying

a person in business attire is looking at another person
In the discourse surrounding workplace bullying, much attention is given to the role of bystanders in collectively intervening to halt the misconduct. While this is undoubtedly crucial, it's equally vital to recognize the often-overlooked power bystanders hold in alleviating the trauma experienced by victims.

It's essential to acknowledge that bystanders are not neutral parties in bullying situations. Many bystanders choose to remain silent when they witness workplace bullying, contributing to the problem. This silence can be driven by various factors, such as fear of becoming targets themselves or the misguided belief that staying silent will benefit their career advancement, a notion that, unfortunately, is sometimes accurate.

One significant reason for bystander inaction is often a lack of knowledge about what to do. If you suspect that a colleague is experiencing bullying at work, it's essential to break this cycle of silence and offer support and assistance. Silence only perpetuates and enables the bullying behavior.

Here are actionable steps you can take to help your colleague navigate this challenging situation:

1. Listen and Validate Their Experience: The first step is to lend a compassionate ear to your colleague. Allow them to express their feelings and experiences without judgment. Validating their emotions and assuring them they're not alone can provide much-needed support.

2.Document: As a bystander, you can documenting instances of bullying, noting dates, times, and specific behaviors. This documentation serves as crucial evidence and corroboration if the target decides to take action.

3. Be a Supportive Partner: Act as a supportive partner and work with your colleague to mitigate the traumatic effects of workplace bullying. Explore diversion and exit strategies together to help them cope with the situation and consider their options.

4. Respect Their Choices: Respect your colleague's decisions regarding how they want to handle the situation. While you can offer support and guidance, ultimately, the decision to confront the bullying or take further action belongs to them.

5. Follow Up: Check in regularly with your colleague to see how they're coping and if they need any additional support. Knowing that you're there for them throughout the process can provide comfort and reassurance.

Supporting a colleague facing workplace bullying requires empathy, compassion, and a willingness to take action. By breaking the cycle of silence and offering support and advocacy, you can help your colleague navigate this challenging situation and work towards a resolution.

Call to Action:

If you know someone is being bullied in your workplace, take a simple yet powerful step: tell them you believe them. Your support and validation can make a world of difference to someone experiencing workplace bullying. Let's create a culture of trust and support where no one has to suffer in silence.