When we hear about bullying taking place, our first assumption is that it’s happening to a child or youth, however workplace bullying is ever-present, and often like many other younger victims, the bullied individual suffers silently.
Workplace bullying more often affects women primarily in male-dominated jobs, minority ethnic workers, people with disabilities, or gay, lesbian and transgender individuals. Its impact isn’t just limited to the work site where it can interfere with attendance, performance and motivation; it can have far-reaching effects upon a person’s home life, social interactions, health and overall well-being. Often those people who’ve been singled out are afraid to complain or report the occurrence of bullying because they fear that would make matters worse.
Workplace bullying includes humiliation, ostracism, verbal and physical abuse. It’s a form of violence that is abusive and can result in emotional harm. Often, the bully is a co-worker or worse, the boss or manager. Bullying by a manager can result in exclusion, overwork, criticism, ridicule or daily harassment. A survey of 1,700 adults showed that 40 to 59-year-olds were most likely to be bullied, and in most cases the bully is a manager. Unfortunately, the person under attack doesn’t feel that she has much recourse and usually quits to end the harassment and injury.
Workplace bullying isn’t just a serious threat to the bullied individual, it also erodes the business with an adverse economic impact due to bullying-related absences, staff turnover, lost productivity and overall morale. It’s usually driven by the bully’s own personal agenda and may have very little to do with work-related issues, although it interferes greatly with work advancement and the business climate.
What recourse does the bullied employee have?
- It is important first to identify that you’re being bullied and not to gloss over or minimize it. Calling it like it is strengthens your resolve to identify strategies that can support you. Fully evaluate the situation as objectively as possible to determine what’s really happening. Don’t give over your power to anyone else but don’t be combative. That will rile the bully and not help your case.
- Stand up for yourself in a calm, straight-forward manner and try not to show that the bullying behavior is getting under your skin. Avoid letting the bully push your buttons; that’s just what the bully wants to happen. Don’t be an easy target or be confrontational. Instead, be polite and professional yet set limits and boundaries. It’s okay if you need to rehearse your behavior to minimize any emotional reaction you may have.
- Documenting what’s happening to you is important to validate just what is really occurring and to have ample evidence if you need to take your case higher up the latter or with Human Resources or an outside advocate. You may need support and keeping track of the incidences, when they took place, the specific behaviors and verbal content can provide the necessary details that interfere with. Keep a precise record of factual content and leave out any of your own emotional verbiage which won’t support your case. Instead document how it’s interfering
- Alert your supervisor or HR; however this can be tricky especially if the bully is a manager. You may need to decide if doing so will make matters worse and if you’re willing to leave your job. Leaving your work situation isn’t a sign a weakness. It can help you reclaim and restore your emotional and physical health which is vital to any recourse you choose.
- Leave with Courage and Dignity and a strong voice if you find that there isn’t a reasonable solution to the bullying. Let Human Resources or top management personnel know why you are choosing to leave. This will help you heal and may also create awareness and policies that will prevent future bullying in that business environment.
- Move on and find a more accepting work situation that supports zero tolerance to bullying and harassment and gives support to your skills and talents. Taking care of you must come first. If you need to seek counseling or other outside help to cope with your feelings, view it as an act of strength to help you overcome any residual effects. Your goal is to be healthy, productive and regain your self-esteem to continue to play an important role in your life and work.
For more posts by Jo Anne White, PhD please visit here.
The online feature magazine, JenningsWire.com, is created by National PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR that specializes in providing book promotion services to self-published and traditionally published authors. Annie Jennings PR books authors, speakers and experts on major high impact radio talk interview shows, on local, regionally syndicated and national TV shows and on influential online media outlets and in prestigious print magazines and newspapers across the country.