It is unfortunate that we live in a world where many are victims of bullying. We are witnessing a trend where age no longer matters when it comes to bullying, and it is no longer merely a dispute between two children on the playground or one child always taking another child’s lunch money. Bullying can now be observed among adults, including while at work; therefore, it is important to understand what is workplace bullying?
The Workplace Bullying Institute, defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators.” The bully can intimidate the target through verbal abuse, offensive behavior and even sabotaging the targets job.
Feeling threatened by a fellow co-worker often leads to a person to truly believe that his or her job is in danger because of the co-worker, they become the bully to save his or her own job. In the mind of the perpetrator, keeping the target controlled reduces the level of threat for the job he or she currently holds. Frequently, this type of behavior escalates to involve others who end up siding with the bully, either voluntarily or because they themselves were bullied into it. In many cases, the target is afraid to say something or to report this type of behavior for fear of retaliation from the oppressor.
After understanding what is workplace bullying, we can take a look at some early warning signs. You may be the target of bullying if you experience any of the following either at home with family or at work:
• Feeling sick and being tempted to call in sick to work on a regular basis
• Family members notice an unhealthy obsession with work while at home
•Experiencing high blood pressure in addition to other health issues
• Feeling too ashamed to admit being controlled by someone at work
• Using paid time off from work is for “mental health breaks”
• Feeling exhausted and lifeless during time away from work
• No longer enjoying favorite family activities
• Feeling you provoked the cruelty at work
• Attempting to do things you obviously cannot do and are told your work is never good enough for your employers/superiors
• Surprise meetings being to accomplish nothing else but to humiliate you more
• Co-workers expressing they have been told to stay away from you
• Constantly feeling agitated or anxious
• Never being able to do your job without interference
•You are yelled at/humiliated in front of others
• Being told by human resources that your harassment claim is not illegal and that you will have to work it out, but when you do try you are accused of harassment
• Always having your transfer requests denied
Workplace bullying can happen to anyone. It is not like schoolyard bullying, when children are targeted because they are introverts without any friends to help them stand up against the bullies. In the workplace, those who are targeted by the bully pose a threat of some sort. The bully may fear their coworker working harder or better than he or she is and that you could one day take their job.
Career Builder conducted a survey in 2012 and found that 35% of workers said that they have been victims of workplace bullying. 16% of those who claimed they were bullied reported suffering from health-related problems because of their job, whereas 17% said they eventually resigned from their jobs. Bullying in the workplace can come not only from the boss, but also from fellow coworkers, customers and those higher up in the company. Of those who felt they have been bullied in the CareerBuilder.com survey, 48% said it was from their bosses, 45% felt it was from their coworkers. More than half reported they were bullied by someone older than they were, and 29% said their bully was much younger.
The same survey revealed that the most common way workers are claiming to have been bullied was getting blamed for mistakes they did not make. Other bullying tactics found from the survey include being ignored, rumors and gossip being spread, belittling comments, stealing credit for work you did and purposely being excluded from projects or meetings you should legitimately be a part of.
If you feel you are being bullied in the workplace you need to take a look at all of the symptoms and review the definition of what is workplace bullying. After learning what is workplace bullying and if you truly believe you are a target of workplace bullying you need to:
• Keep a record of all incidents, including places, times, who was there, who was bullying and where it occurred.
• Talk to the bully. Explain that you feel you are being treated unfairly. He or she may not be aware they are making you feel this way.
• Focus on a resolution. Center you discussions around how you want to improve the working situation or how things can be handed differently.
• If you or someone you know is a target of a workplace bully, contact your human resources department or boss immediately. The sooner you find a solution, the sooner you can resolve any workplace issues.