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Bullying: when the job makes you ill

Who has not been confronted with stress at the workplace, been faced with persistent criticism or worked with colleagues who do not keep to agreements that have been made? But when there is no let-up in insults, grievances and humiliation, then this is tantamount to bullying. What is bullying exactly and what can you do about it?

According to a study by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) adverse working conditions not only compromise the business success of a company, but also have an impact on the personal wellbeing and motivation of employees and on the working atmosphere. Adverse conditions of this kind can also take the shape of bullying at the workplace. This is understood to include behaviour such as the deliberate victimization and discrimination of an employee over a prolonged period. Bullying is especially common in stress situations, at peak periods or during mergers and restructuring in companies.

Features of bullying activities
Typical bullying actions include, for example, constant criticism at work, the assignment of pointless tasks, social isolation, the spreading of rumours and, in extreme cases, even threats of violence and physical assaults. People affected often feel depressed, desperate and insecure. They are also plagued by both psychological disorders (e.g. nightmares, headache and stress) and physical ailments (e.g. tension in the region of the shoulder and neck, allergies or gastrointestinal disorders). Test yourself here to check whether you are affected by bullying at the workplace.

Tips to combat bullying

  • Confront your bullier. Try to nip conflicts in the bud and stay cool.
  • Keep a record of incidents in a diary. It will help you to describe specific situations and name examples later on.
  • Seek dialogue with your bullier. Avoid making allegations and accusations, and word your messages with reference to yourself, e.g. “What bothers me is that...”
  • Remain objective. Try to avoid emotional outbursts during the discussion and describe your feelings as objectively as possible.
  • Turn to your line manager. If the bullying persists, talk to your boss about it and present your concerns.
  • Seek professional help. There are many advisory services that specialize in bullying issues.

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If you have any further questions about your health, the doctors, psychologists and medical staff of the free sante24 hotline are at your disposal at any time of the day or night for expert advice. On request, sante24 will also arrange a doctor’s appointment. Tel. (0)44 404 86 86