The Best Way to Deal With Bullying and Harassment

Bullying does not build character and it is definitely not something that anyone should learn to tolerate. Harassment takes a toll on your confidence and can lead to stress, depression and anxiety. In extreme situations the consequences can be tragic.

In an ideal world, schools and workplaces would use best practices and policies to shut down harassment and bullying. The reality is that those who are often hired to enforce those policies (if they even exist in a particular organization) are poorly trained and have little practice dealing with high conflict situations. They might use buzzwords like “restorative justice” or “zero tolerance” without really understanding how to use those strategies effectively.

You should know if you are ever in this situation how to protect yourself! Therapy for bullying helps by teaching you how to shut down critical comments, set clear limits and when necessary how not to internalize - or believe - the terrible things the bully says about you. Verbal self-defence skills are key to getting through or shutting down a bully (as long as they are not physically violent - then you need a slightly different set of strategies to get out and stay safe).

It’s also important to know when to change schools or jobs. If you are one person going against an institution that is not responding to your concerns, leaving is a legitimate course of action. Most of us feel like we failed or are leaving with our tails between our legs. However, a psychologist can help you see that this prevents so many more problems when you don’t have the power to change the situation.

Lawyers are particularly good at walking away from a losing proposition. If you don’t have a case, or the law isn’t on your side, they won’t pursue an issue. This is also a good way to think about injustice at school or at work. It may be wrong - but if you don’t have the power to change it do what’s necessary to take care of yourself.

If you are struggling with harassment and bullying, the one thing to remember is that it rarely gets better with time. Don’t wait to take action when you see a problem early on. Learn about your rights from your union or lawyer, get help learning the assertiveness skills necessary to protect yourself, and once you have exhausted all avenues, consider leaving. Everybody deserves respect and compassion - and if you don’t have that as a minimum at work or school then you need to find a way out.