I feel I’m being bullied but I’m not sure. What is bullying? Workplace bullying behavior, which is repeated, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more people, at the place of work, if it is undermining the individual’s right to dignity while they work is considered to be bullying. A once off incidence it not considered to be bullying even though it may make the individual feel undermined at the time. Workplace Bullying is repeated inappropriate behavior, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying. Learning point: It’s not enough to be singled out, corrected, challenged, to make for a valid bullying complaint. One shouldn’t assume nobody else is being challenged for such issues. It may occur that one person is being corrected more due to having more lates, or a wider range of infringements. Those in positions of power should record and keep track so that they can prove that they are not singling out one person without evidence or reason. Discriminating against some, using offensive remarks and suggestive conversation due to their age is ageist and due to their gender is sexist. These behaviors would be considered sexual harassment or harassment on the basis of age. These behaviors may be considered ‘jokes’ and ‘harmless’ by some, but not by others. Many people on the receiving end of such treatment will not challenge such behaviors but feel hurt and humiliated by it. These behaviors are outlawed in workplaces and should not be tolerated. Anyone behaving in this way can be subject of sanction under disciplinary proceedings. Whereas these do not make for bullying per se, they are termed harassment complaints. Often, when a person is investigated for a wrong doing, or when called to account for something they have done, they feel aggrieved. They feel that their respect worthiness has been questioned. This does not amount to bullying when it is a matter of the organization reacting to a complaint. All of us must be aware that we can be the subject of complaint or our actions can be queried. We cannot then retort that this is us being bullied. It is not inappropriate for the head of organizations to instigate investigations or to query our function, if issues of question are brought to their attention. The crucial aspect is what was brought forward– does it have legitimacy and how was it processed. Finally, bullying can be very difficult as it is hinged on perceptions and subjective assessments of what is appropriate and what is not. It is beneficial for all to sit back and take time, consider what was done and try to see it from an alternative perspective and to not act quickly. There may be a reasonable explanation for what initially appears an unreasonable act. The best approach firstly is to approach the persons and try to assess what was meant. Informal resolution of early-stage conflicts leads to better long term outcomes. Jumping to conclusions about what other people ‘meant’ by what they did or said are often flawed. We do not know what another person’s intentions are; we superimpose our own biases onto them and this clouds better judgment.