Bullying may have connotations of childhood and the playground, but the truth is that bullying exists long after our school days are over. Bullying is arguably present in any environment that relies on hierarchy, including yachting.

Bullying is a common problem onboard yachts amongst crew

When we’re being bullied as adults, we may have a more difficult time detecting or even admitting it. Perhaps we never considered ourselves the ‘type’ of person who could be bullied.

In a work environment as unique as yachting, where we have no choice of who we spend our time with, our position within the social dynamic could be far different from what we have encountered elsewhere.

How can bullying negatively impact us?

Bullying can cause us to shut down emotionally, become afraid of speaking our minds and withdraw from social engagement altogether. If the issue persists, it can be seriously detrimental to a person’s mental health. 

What are the early warning signs that indicate that you are potentially being bullied?

In case a member of your team appears to be targeting you negatively, you should become vigilant and monitor his or her behaviour. You can detect whether you are being singled out if you observe how they treat you compared to other crew members. It is important that you stand up for your right to be respected.

Gain an understanding

Trying to understand where the person who is bullying you is coming from may seem like an impossible feat when you are the target of unfair treatment, but it will help you to deal with the situation emotionally.

Perhaps they are insecure in their position at work, maybe they see you as a threat to them or they are simply unhappy in their private life. Whilst you may never know the true reasons for their behaviour, it can help to approach this person with curiosity, to see them almost as a teacher.

Notice their triggers

Understanding what triggers this person could be helpful, and noticing their patterns of behaviour may enable you to avoid being in the line of fire. Whilst it shouldn’t be up to you to change your own behaviour for the sake of the bully, it can help if you adapt to the situation in order to avoid being further targeted. 

Read More SYC: Adapting to Different Cultures: Cultural Sensitivity for Superyacht Crew

Don’t take it personally

Remember not to take their treatment of you personally. Perhaps ask them for feedback if they are picking apart the way that you work. If they are chastising you in a more personal way, wait until you are feeling calm and collected and ask to speak to them privately to express the way they are making you feel. Is it possible that they are oblivious to hurting your feelings?

Reach out for help

If you can, seek support from other members of your team. It is possible that they too have felt victimised by the bully and may understand what you are experiencing. If the bully is your head of department, perhaps seek consolidation outside of the boat, with a person ashore within the management company where you may be able to file an anonymous complaint. 

Stand up for others

If you notice a fellow crew member being wrongly treated onboard, you should rally together to report the bully. It can be easy to coast along when you are not the target, but creating a pleasant work environment is only possible when everyone is equally treated onboard. You can make an anonymous complaint against the bully or perhaps call out their behaviour if you feel comfortable doing so.

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