Do you feel stressed out at work when dealing with a particularly aggressive individual?
Does the treatment from your boss or others escalate and become more hostile or abusive?
If you are answering yes, you might be the target of a workplace bully.
Studies over the years confirm that 37% of Americans face workplace bullying, from The Bully at At Work by Namie and Namie 2007.
Hollis’ study, Bully in the Ivory Tower confirms that workplace in higher education is even worse with 62% of participants stating they are affected by workplace bullying. This is 58% higher than the national average.
Though the emotional and psychological toll of bullying on the target is similar to the target of sexual harassment, Title VII harassment is illegal, while workplace bullying is still legal.
Therefore, what is a victim to do?
- Some organizations have adopted anti-bullying policies which sit with their anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. Be sure to read these carefully and access such policies if need, meaning consider reporting to HR or an attorney if an organization is breaking its own policies.
- Keep a journal or diary. Being the target of a bully is emotionally draining. A diary can pin point dates and times of bullying behavior and is a bonafide document in mediation and arbitration.
- Be sure to take care of your health. While it is tempting to eat comfort foods or engage in other consumption of unhealthy choices, a body that has good rest and nutrition is in a better position to withstand stress.
- Recruit support. Let people know you are being targeted. They will be able to support you, but make sure to choose trustworthy people.
- Decide if you will “take it” or fight back. A bully picks on people who appear to be the least likely to fight back. Standing up and standing your ground (respectfully) might curtail the abuse.
- Consider your life, meaning, is the job worth it? There might be a better job out there, or other opportunities that will appreciate your talents.
- Become an advocate in your state to help the passage of workplace bullying legislation.
These suggestions are the next best solutions without legal support to curtail workplace bullying. The sad part is the destruction is not just to the individual, but to the organization that is losing the valuable contribution of those who disengaged to protect themselves from the bully.