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University of Basel

Bullying

  • What does bullying look like?

    Bullying comprises a range of systematic, often indirect and persistent discrediting and aggressive behaviors. Typical expressions of bullying include:

    • Personal denigration and targeted harassment
      such as constantly interrupting, objecting to, or questioning someone, etc.
       
    • Violation of personal integrity and dignity
      such as shaming or ridiculing someone to others, spreading rumors and smears, etc.
       
    • Ostracizing
      such as deriding, deliberately ignoring, or excluding someone, etc.
       
    • Unfair work or study conditions
      such as disproportionate assignment of work (intentionally demanding too much of someone or challenging them too little), withholding information.
       
    • Physical or verbal attacks
      such as threats, physical altercations, acts of violence, etc.

    Bullying targets a specific person and is systematically carried out over a longer period of time. This makes bullying different from a labor dispute.

  • How bullying affects people

    Victims of bullying suffer psychological and often also physical harm:

    feelings of (intense) insecurity, negative effects on self-esteem, social withdrawal, post-traumatic symptoms such as sleep disorders, trouble concentrating, a drop in performance, stress, anxiety, emotional distress, and typically somatic complaints such as gastrointestinal problems and pain.

    Signs of bullying in working life include more frequent absences, more illness-related absences, and longer periods of missing work because of burnout or stress-induced depression.

  • What can I do if I am affected by bullying?

    • React quickly and set boundaries
      Resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Make it clear to the other person how you experience their actions or statements and ask them to stop this behavior.
       
    • Put the events down in writing
      Make a note of what happened, when, who was present, and under what circumstances.
       
    • Get help
      Talk to your supervisor or your lecturers about the incidents. Alternatively, contact the Personal Integrity Coordination Office, which will treat your concern confidentially and support you throughout subsequent events.
  • What can I do as a lecturer or supervisor?

    Employers and supervisors have an obligation to ensure a work and study environment that is free of bullying.

    What specific actions can you take?

    • Be a role model
      Ensure a fair and respectful communication and conflict culture in your team or courses with factual, constructive feedback and comprehensible decisions.
       
    • Intervene early and set clear boundaries
      Resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Make it clear to the other person how you experience their actions or statements and ask them to stop this behavior.
       
    • Publicize drop-in centers
      You are required by the regulations to make your staff aware of the Personal Integrity Coordination Office.
       
    • Do not look the other way
      Advocate for your staff and students. Set up a personal meeting with victims if you suspect bullying.
       
    • Get support
      If you need to, contact the Personal Integrity Coordination Office. For leadership coaching, contact the team at the Training and Development departement.
  • What can I do if I observe bullying taking place?

    All members of the University of Basel have an obligation to actively combat bullying.

    • Support the victim
      Demonstrate solidarity with victims. It takes courage to defend oneself against both obvious and subtle bullying. Talk to the victim whenever possible. There is no one right way to act in these situations.
       
    • Bring up the topic
      Bring up the topic of your culture of collaboration at a team or departmental meeting or talk to teaching staff about a bullying culture in a course.
    • Organize help
      Advise victims to contact the Personal Integrity Coordination Office of the University of Basel. Victims receive confidential support and are accompanied throughout subsequent steps and discussions.
  • What can I do if I am accused of bullying?

    • Listen
      Listen carefully to the accuser and try to put yourself in their place. Do not immediately become defensive.
       
    • Reflect on your behavior
      Would you treat a person close to you (e.g. sister, friend) in the same way? How would your behavior be received there? Talk to a trusted person about the incident.
       
    • Talk to the accuser
      Open and honest conversation can be powerful. It is worth having a conversation in a public place such as a cafeteria. Alternatively, you can propose a moderated conflict resolution with a person from the Training and Development Office to the victim.
       
    • Victim’s rights
      Accept that the victim has a right to defend themselves. Do not pressure them.
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