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Bullying isn’t a foreign word and it comes in all shapes and sizes. I have experienced it, seen it happen to others and also counselled many people through it. While my job as a doctor revolves mainly around medicine, I’ve had many opportunities to counsel and help many people through seasons of bullying at school, workplace bullying , domestic violence and various forms of harassment. It is a very fulfilling experience and this post is all about sharing some ways on how to deal with bullying effectively.
Trivial as it may sound, the lack of awareness that bullying is unacceptable in any given scenario stops a person from seeking help. One of the possible culprits is FEAR; fear of losing friends, fear of being talked about or fear of losing a job. Life experience has taught me well that keeping mum about situations like these will cause nothing but despair and lack of progress. Unfortunately sometimes in the medical world , junior doctors can be faced with some really ugly situations that can be so tricky to deal with. They can be wrought with the fear of career suicide if they were to report a bullying or harassment case; especially if it involved a superior. Realise that you have worked hard to achieve your goals or your dream job and that you are not going to let anyone bully or cut you down after all that. Be aware that dealing with bullying alone is not ideal.
Learn about different channels of where you can seek help. Speak to your department’s HR manager. Keep good notes and records of the series of events that have taken place to present your case concisely to let your story be heard. For doctors, approach your mentors or medical educators within your training program as the first point of contact. For those who are struggling with mental health issues, reach out to your local doctor or counsellor within your community or local area health network. Talking through stressful events allows you to reflect and gather your thoughts on how to confront the situation wisely. Last but not least, you may need to seek legal help or lodge a work cover case if all remediation fails.
Build a network or a mini army of supporters to your cause. Search and hold on to people that build you , not break you. Confide in those whom you trust that can bear witness to your situation and empower you to stay strong and firm to what is right. Ignore those who try to belittle you when you are in crisis. Interestingly, it sometimes takes a crisis to let you know where your true friends lie. Occasionally you may end up making new friends that last a lifetime in the process!
Moving on and be optimistic
Whether it is a short or long journey, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Be patient and reflect on the good and bad of every situation. There is always something to learn in preparation for future challenges. Sometimes after going through numerous remediation steps, things may still fall through occasionally. Take time to focus on self care and invest more in yourself. If you had to leave a toxic job situation or move to a different department or environment , do not be afraid to do it. Learn a new skill! The grass may be greener on the other side. I left a poorly supported medical training program for many reasons and found my passion in general practice . I have not looked back ever since as I am in a much happier place now. Change may not be such a bad thing.
If you have ever encountered bullying, I hope you will find this post refreshing to help you find a way. Would love to hear your thoughts on how you have dealt with bullying in the past.
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