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What to Do With Bullying Colleagues?

Questioner

D

Reply Date

Feb 07, 2018

Question

Salam brother/sister, may Allah bless you and your family. I have continuously tried to make peace with people I work with through being a passive-minded individual as I do not wish to continue conversing with these people. I also do not wish to approach this issue with our human resources department because they are known to not resolve issues in the same way they portray in our orientation. The issue I have with my colleagues is their continuous jokes that pertain to my religion (I am a Muslim). I work with a diverse group of people who do not agree with me being a converted Muslim and have voiced that they will try everything to make me leave the fold of Islam. I stand firm on my religion and would rather die than to become an apostate of Islam. I have tried everything I could imagine to reason with these people, but I am afraid that I might have to take further (non-violent) actions against them such as talking to my human resources department. What other ideas can you provide me with to resolve this issue without involving management at my workplace?

Counselor

Answer


What to Do With Bullying Colleagues?

In this counseling answer:

I would advise you to try to build a good relationship with your co-workers, for example, by bringing them some baked goods to the office leaving them in the staff room or cafeteria.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum,

Thank you for asking this important question. There are a few steps you can take before contacting your human resources department.

First, it is important to recognize that you have a right to a safe and respectful work environment that is free of bullying and harassment. Having said that, I would advise you to try to build a good relationship with your co-workers, for example, by bringing them some baked goods to the office leaving them in the staff room or cafeteria, and send an email inviting your co-workers to help themselves. You can also share simple gifts like postcards from a place you may have visited. As Allah tells us in the Quran,

“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (41:33-34)

Secondly, it is advisable to be assertive instead of passive or aggressive. This entails stating your request firmly and respectfully. So, you may try phrases like: “Please stop as I need to work”, or “I do not appreciate it and think it is unprofessional, so please stop”. Make sure though that you do not escalate. If you feel the situation will escalate, then excuse yourself quietly. You could even try having a dialogue with one co-worker who you think would be willing to listen, and see if they can mediate between you and your other co-workers. However, ensure that you choose someone you trust and who will not do more damage.

Thirdly, even if you do not think you will contact the human resources department now, it is a good idea to keep a record of the events that are happening including the time, date, location and names of any witnesses. If you’re being bullied or harassed, there is a good chance that there are others who are experiencing the same thing, so you may want to enlist their help.

If you choose to approach your human resources department, present them with your written evidence and witnesses. If they do not resolve the situation effectively, then you may wish to start searching for another position. If you’ve presented a good case for yourself, perhaps you can take some time off while searching for another position, and/or make sure that you are engaging in meaningful as well as relaxing activities outside of work such as reading or other hobbies.

Make sure you have a support system around you and don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor or a counselor as overcoming a negative experience at work can be quite distressing and takes time.  Find solace in prayer and in the Quran. Ask Allah to facilitate what is best for you, and if moving to another job seems difficult, perhaps you can at least ask for a transfer and make a new start.

Salams,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Um Hadi

Um Hadi has BA in Psychology & Education and acquired certifications in Leadership, Life Coaching, Adults Training, and Relationship Coaching. She is currently completing her Masters in Educational Leadership.

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