From bystander to ally – how to support colleagues who are being bullied

Bystander thinking about helping a distressed coworker

It’s a sad reality that bullying and harassment are still common occurrences in many organisations.

The impact of bullying doesn’t just affect the target, it also affects the working environment for all concerned. It is upsetting to be a witness to bullying and difficult to know how to best support a coworker who is being bullied.

It's important to remember that being an ally means actively working to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone.

Here are some tips on how to be an ally to a colleague who is being bullied.

  • It's important to listen to your colleague without judgement and let them know that their feelings are valid. Acknowledge the impact that the bullying is having on them and let them know that it upsets you too and that you are there to support them. It is everyone’s problem, they are not alone.
  • Encourage them to speak up about the bullying they are experiencing - to a manager, a union representative, a counsellor or even a lawyer. This can be a difficult step, but it's important for them to know that they have options and support.
  • Offer to help your colleague in any way that you can. This could include offering to go with them to speak to a manager or HR representative, helping them document the incidents of bullying, or simply being there to provide emotional support.
  • Stand with them. People who bully like to dominate their victims - that is harder to do if the target is not alone.
Bullying is harder to do when the target is not alone.
  • If your colleague is not comfortable speaking up, consider being an advocate for them. This could mean bringing the issue to the attention of management or HR on their behalf. It's important to remember to do this in a respectful and professional manner, and to make sure that you have your colleague's consent before taking any action.
  • Bullying and harassment are often perpetuated in a culture that allows it to happen. As an ally, you can help create a more supportive and inclusive work environment by speaking up when you witness inappropriate behaviour and supporting policies and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity.
Finally, make sure you take care of yourself. You don’t want to become the bully’s next target, and you don’t want to create a situation where your colleague becomes dependent on you and your support. You want to be an ally, not a rescuer

So be true to your beliefs and make a stand against workplace bullying. Our two courses provide the knowledge and resources you need to recognise workplace bullying and prevent workplace bullying. Sign up today and make a positive impact!

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