#beatbullying with CALM

In December 2020, I was privileged to join a group of HR Directors who came together to take a stand against bullying within organisations following a LinkedIn post by one of the group where they openly shared their experience of being bullied at work.

As the post received an overwhelming response from individuals suffering similar treatment during what is already an incredibly difficult time, the Beat Bullying group’s first action was to offer individual sounding boards on a pro bono basis to anyone who wished to seek confidential support with regards to what they were going through. The take up was extremely high.

Feeling heard

Through the initiative, the Beat Bullying collaboration has helped individuals to feel heard and validated as well as seek practical guidance as to how they should best support themselves and consider what their next steps might look like. It was great for all of us in the group to feel as if we could help and support people at a time when they really needed it and quickly consistent themes began to emerge around the nature of the dynamics at play when bullying takes place. Conscious that people are now also trying to deal with the Covid crisis on top of everyday challenges, when toxic behaviours are left unchecked, life at work can become beyond distressing for the victims of bullying.

our survey says

Keen to peel back the layers behind these issues, the group initiated a Beat Bullying LinkedIn survey to dive deeper into people’s experiences within the workplace. Worryingly most respondents to the survey experienced extremely severe and longlasting health detriments as a consequence of workplace bullying. The majority suffered from several different conditions, almost all of whom experienced anxiety, depression, headaches/migraines and gastrointestinal problems. Self medication through alcohol, food and drugs were also commonly reported. 29% had suicidal thoughts whilst others suffered from PTSD or panic attacks for a considerable period of time after the bullying was over.

Respondents to the survey were also asked how they felt they could be supported more effectively and unsurprisingly, mental health support featured prominently on the list.

how CALM can help

If you have experienced or are currently experiencing bullying towards you or know anyone who is going through a difficult time, here are some thoughts as to how the CALM model can help you cope:

connect with me

Connect with someone you trust – make sure you have someone you can talk to that you can share openly and safely with how you are feeling without judgement. Often bullying victims question what is happening to them and by talking things through, it can help you to process what is going on and get clarity for yourself around the situation and what you might want to do next.

all of me matters

You matter – try to avoid blaming yourself for what is happening. Relationships are a two way street and bullying can make you feel as if you are the problem – that in itself is not ok. We are also allowed to make mistakes and to have complications within our lives at home and at work. Don’t ever feel that you have to be ‘perfect’ to avoid being bullied. The bullying is more likely than not occurring because the bully is projecting their own insecurities on to you.

let me have time for rest and recovery

Take time to rest – it’s more important than ever if you are experiencing bullying to look after yourself carefully and take time out to rest and recover. Try to become aware of when your brain is spinning around what is happening on a loop and be mindful that when we experience stress, our bodies are flooded with the cortisol hormone which puts us into a state of flght or flight. Think about what your body and your mind need for you to regain a sense of calm, whether that’s self care at home such as relaxation rituals, a long walk or spending time in nature, or with people who care about you and have your best interests at heart. You might also want to consider seeking out professional support.

take care

Move forward when the time is right – it’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself to make any big decisions until you are ready and feel you can think clearly. Be reassured that there are people out there who can help you figure out what your options are and what steps you can take if you are being bullied. If your wellbeing has been affected, I promise that little by little you will recover from what is happening by taking small steps forward to a more positive place. And make sure you’re kind to yourself along the way – it will be ok.