Bullying in the UK public sector

I have personally experienced bullying twice in my life, first when I was 13 years old and worked at Burger King. And then nearly 30 years later when I moved into the public sector. I later learnt that bullying in the UK public sector is rife and often part of the culture. And I suspect is often correlated with departments who are undergoing change and transformation.

The bullying I experienced in the public sector was at the hand of two different individuals. One was most likely on the Asperger’s spectrum, undiagnosed or undeclared and which probably required close and ongoing OT intervention and supervision. The other individual projected outwardly as incredibly confident, but probably suffered at the hands of extreme anxiety, self-doubt and internal criticism.

The complete lack of self-awareness as to the impact of how they conducted themselves on those around them was detrimental to both myself and other members of the team. The thing that was utterly confusing were the individuals who observed the behaviour and should have known better, often senior managers, that simply turned a blind eye or encouraged me and others to “try harder” with these individuals.

When I “woke up” from these experiences and had managed to put together exactly what was going on, I vowed never again to be victim and put together a cheat sheet of the bullying behaviours I lived through. I also, and most importantly, documented how the other person affected me and what behavioural changes I subconsciously made in an attempt to protect myself.

I put together the cheat sheet as a way to make me more consciously aware of these situations and (hopefully) more able to avoid individuals like this when they come along again in the future.

Please share and comment if this strikes a chord.


Frank Ray

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