Bullying on the Job
You may find bullying on the playground or in your child’s classroom. But what about in your office? About 1 in 4 American workers have been bullied on the job. Many others have witnessed this abusive behavior. Bullying can affect more than job performance. It can take a toll on your health.
Spotting workplace bullying
Workplace bullying can take many forms. It’s any ongoing negative behavior toward a coworker. It often lasts for an extended period of time. The most obvious type: verbal attacks. Other possible signs of workplace bullying include:
Always critiquing a person’s work
Not allowing a coworker to do his or her work without interruptions
Undermining a person’s ability to complete a task
Excluding or isolating a colleague
Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of workplace bullies are bosses. Many others are coworkers. Women are often the target of this type of bullying. That’s usually the case even if the bully is another woman.
Unfortunately, many people who are bullied end up losing their jobs. A lack of support at the company level can foster the abuse. So, too, can an unstable workplace. The victim may feel like he or she has little room for recourse. Quitting may be the only way out.
Stopping workplace bullying
Bullying at work can be overwhelming. The stress of dealing with it can cause mental and physical health problems. It can trigger depression and anxiety. Victims of workplace bullying may suffer from nausea, tremors, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, and headaches. They may also be more likely to have high blood pressure, heart attacks, stomach problems, and infections.
If you are a witness to or a victim of workplace bullying, take a stand against it. Here is how you can banish bullying on the job:
Know it when you see it. The sooner you identify bullying, the sooner it can be averted.
Don’t dismiss bad behavior. It doesn’t matter if it’s your boss or a fellow worker who does it, workplace bullying isn’t OK.
Focus on communication. If you are an employer or boss, teach your employees how to talk with one another. Such training can help defuse harmful situations. It may also build healthier relationships at work.
Take some time off. A mental break from work can help you better deal with a stressful situation. It may also lower levels of anxiety.
Check your company’s rules on harassment or violence in the workplace. You may be able to make a formal complaint. Accept that your bully may retaliate.
Talk with a higher level person about the bully. Some companies may side with the bully. Others won’t tolerate such behavior. Give your employer only 1 chance to fix the problem.
Consider finding a new job. If the bullying doesn’t stop or your employer dismisses your claims, remember that your health is a top priority. You’ll be better off working somewhere else.
March 21, 2017
Longitudinal Relationships Between Workplace Bullying and Psychological Distress. M.B. Nielsen, et al. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 2012;38(1):38-46., Reciprocal Relations Between Workplace Bullying, Anxiety, and Vigor: A Two-Wave Longitudinal Study. Rodriguez-Munoz A, et al. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping. 2015. Published online ahead of print, DOI:10.1080/10615806.2015.1016003., Workplace Bullying Among Managers: A Multifactorial Perspective and Understanding. J.A. Ariza-Montes, et al. Int. J. Environ. Res. Publ. Health. 2014;11(3):2657-82., Workplace Bullying and Subsequent Health Problems. M.B. Nielsen, et al. Tidsskrift for den Norkse laegeforening. 2014;134(12-13):1233-38.
Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN