When a mix of people from different backgrounds or experiences come together, interacting with each other is not be the same as when we are hanging out with a group of friends or family who generally share similar views and behaviours.
People will have different ideas on a range of issues including what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. This can lead to situations where people feel like they are being bullied or not realising that their actions are making someone else feel like they being bullied:
When two people are teasing or making jokes about each other and both parties seem to be giving as good as they get, this could be simply a good natured way two people who know each other choose to interact. If the joking and teasing is only one-sided and is repeated, then this could be considered bullying.
- Fighting/aggression There may be heated occasions in a workplace where different personalities clash and someone becomes aggressive. If the aggressive behaviour is a one-off incident and doesn’t continue, this would not be be considered bullying. After all, we don’t always know what is going on with someone else and why they might have reacted this way on this particular occasion.
- Isolated incidents
Being excluded from an activity, aggressive behaviour, arguments or telling a joke involving a colleague can all be upsetting if you’re on the receiving end, but in isolation these things aren’t necessarily considered bullying. However, if this behaviour happen often or are carried out to gain power or control, then this would be bullying.
It’s important to remember…
If someone upsets you but this isn’t normal behaviour for them, try not to take it personally. You don’t know what’s going on in their own lives and it could be an ‘out of character’, one-off incident. It’s only if the behaviour carries on that it would be classed as bullying. It’s also important to understand that, at work, you have professional relationships with people and while it’s great to get on well with those you work with, in reality you’re going to work with people you wouldn’t choose to be friends with. Remember that different people from different backgrounds interact in different ways.