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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Ostracized, Neglected And Victim Of Virtual Attacks

by PhD Student
(Portugal)

I'm a normal young man with 27 years old. This is not the first time I have been bullied at work. I left my previous job for that very reason, but I will not dwell on this story.

I started my PhD almost two years ago at a prestigious university. At the time I was integrated into a team with three more people, three women, and I felt that I was having the opportunity of a lifetime. The atmosphere was relaxed, we talked and laughed a lot, I have a flexible schedule and a good salary. All very different from my previous work. I always had great success in the academic and professional world, so when I won a scholarship to join the team, I was introduced with great pomp, many compliments from previous supervisors and much general expectation.

A number of problems have occurred simultaneously, culminating in the current situation. First I began to notice that the conversations that my colleagues had always had a common theme: to speak ill of others. Speaking ill of people from neighboring laboratories, talking badly about people who worked with us, speaking ill of the girl who passed in the hall, of the man who works in the bar ... of everything and everyone, speaking badly about the way of speaking, dressing, posture, beauty, physical shape etc. It started to bother me a lot because I'm not the kind of person who likes to gossip, talk about physical and irrelevant aspects.

Besides, I began to notice that they were all arrogant, thinking they were better than anyone, homophobic, racist ... that started to make me not participate in the jokes and comments they made, because I did not identify with them. Secondly, from the professional point of view, I also noticed some problems. I have a scholarship to finish my PhD, which I have to finish in 4 years. The laboratory has several ongoing projects that are the responsibility of two of my colleagues.

Although I had a little training at the beginning of my PhD, the truth is that the things I had to do were never a priority. It was always left for later, the projects are more important, it is what brings money to the laboratory etc etc. I had to start becoming independent and doing things for myself, otherwise within two years, nothing of my doctorate would be done. My posture has always been to do what I have to do, without bothering people with it. Whenever someone asks me for something, I do not refuse, but otherwise I deal with my affairs without annoying anyone. And I thought this was the best attitude.

The third element that created problems is my attitude in life. Being a PhD student, I am not nor have I ever been a workaholic in the sense of focusing all my life on this part of my day to day life and having no life abroad. I was always very proactive and dynamic in my interests, and I participate and apply for many other programs in other areas, conferences, youth meetings, competitions and hobbies ... this makes me to be frequently selected to go to other countries to speak or participate in programs, win prizes, travel a lot ... anyway, all that my colleagues, who do not have a life beyond work and live obsessed with it, do not have. All this brought me to the situation in which I am today.

My colleagues slowly began to ostracize me. We are four people inside a laboratory, and I am completely ignored. They talk in front of me, they organize things that concern me without consulting me, they go out and they always come together, they have a whatsapp group where I'm not included ... this has lasted for months, and it has greatly affected my psychological state. I'm clearly suffering from workplace bullying.

The position of the three people is clearly defined: there is one leader, the most arrogant person, who practically commands the other two. Of the other two, one is cooperative and helps in the acts of bullying, the third is conniving, says nothing but does not act against them. In addition to being ostracized, I also suffer virtual attacks, with accusatory messages sent in the whatsapp group that we have with my supervisor (so my boss), by email ... any mistakes I make are pointed out as the end of the world, but rarely are said things in person, only digitally, in a disguised way so that the supervisor is informed of my failures.

It was never my goal to get into this situation, I never wanted to be put aside and not help in the projects, much less be treated in this way. As I said initially my goal was always to move forward with my work without disturbing anyone, but always helping the team when I was asked.

At this moment I feel alone, isolated, ill treated, ignored, put aside. I can not stop thinking about work, I sleep badly, it has affected my day to day and my mind. Talking to my supervisor is not an option, I have two more years of PhD and I do not know how I will face this...

Comments for Ostracized, Neglected And Victim Of Virtual Attacks

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Very Common
by: Anonymous

Hi

Sorry to hear about this terrible situation. I have been in very similar situations in Universities.

This kind of bullying is VERY common in Universities. Northern England Universities e.g the University of Manchester have massive racism issues brought in by the locals who have been raised in Manchester and other northern towns. Many have a working class racism ingrained in them.
I know that many international students i talked to experienced racism from local staff recruited from Manchester and surrounding areas.
This was brought to the attention of HR many times, but was simply brushed aside.
I think the best thing to do would be to leave/go into another department before you damage your mental and emotional health. before you leave leave a trial of visiting HR, occupational health, your GP, council ling services and Union. Always email them , so you have evidence. Maybe talk to the legal people too. You can drop me an email if you want to share stories and for support. (terrynow@hotmail.com))Good Luck. Shane

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