Workplace: Abuse of Power


Wikipedia defines ‘abuse’ of power at the workplace as an act of misconduct encouraged in the circumference of the office space and society which degrades the work performance of the victim. In layman’s language it can be termed as bullying at work.

Abuse of power at a job place is rather a more sensitive topic than a mere work environment problem. Abuse suffered at the job can not only affect a person’s capacity to work and perform his duties but also can cause mental stress and physical health issues. Unlike the high school years of bullying, workplace bullying can distress the entire life and career of the victim.

It is a kind of bullying where the person in authority misuses his/her privileges to make decisions over the colleagues or juniors. A bully can be anyone from management to the bosses or a colleague or a team leader. Bullying can be in the form of overloading with work, constant nagging and criticism, over pressurizing with deadlines and criteria, any kinds of verbal /physical /sexual abuse or threats etc.

Recent surveys have disclosed the shocking fact that most of the time this power abuse is encouraged with female bosses on their female counterparts because of various work related or personal issues. The reason can be any, however the most important thing is to stand firm against it without letting it affect your work performance and life.

But the question that arises here is how to judge what constitutes bullying behavior?

It is essential to be able to differentiate between regular work conduct and bullying. A bully will try his/her best to dominate, intermediate or manipulate you. This can be done by various tactics like shouting constant criticism, name calling, etc. It’s important to recognize such a person and taking strict actions against them instead of getting affected by their comments and behavior. Know yourself and your capabilities and try to distinguish between healthy criticism and nasty comments.

Now what if I have identified a bully?

Bullying done even in the smallest form can cause major incidents at a work place.  Don’t stand for, or ignore, even the slightest version of it. Your first step should be talking to the bully themselves and trying to resolve any miscommunication among yourselves that might be the best course.  Trying gaining mutual respect and generating a bond which encourages a healthy workplace environment.

However, if things are still not going well, you need to take further actions and make a complaint against the bully to your Human Resources department or anyone in management who can understand the sensitivity of the issue and take strict actions against the bully. But one should also understand that the allegations of bullying are very serious and can destroy the career and life of the person in question. Think twice if you are really being bullied at work before charging the suspect.

The final step is seeking legal help. In some cases, when management and bosses are the bullies, one can opt for going to legal authorities and seek help there. Every country has some type of law or provision to deal with workplace bullies.

Remember, being an ignorant victim to bullying and work abuse is itself encouraging it. Stand firm against it to form a healthy work environment.

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