Bullying has become a serious issue for children, but many people don’t know that adults get bullied, too – and it often occurs at work. Furthermore, most adults are ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone they’re being bullied. How do you spot bullying in the workplace? How should you handle it?
Studies have shown that 37% of workers have been bullied at work. When witnesses are included in the survey, the number rises to 49%. Unless the abuse is severe, employees may not realize they are being bullied.
Around 45% of individuals who are bullied experience stress-related health problems, including cardiovascular ailments, a lower immune system, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Bullying is causing more problems than sexual harassment at work, causing more stress and higher turnover rates. The Workplace Bullying Institute has promoted legislation asking employers to address bullying with legal recourse.
Spotting the Signs
People may not realize they are witnessing or receiving bullying unless they consider the following signs:
- If you are physically ill at the start of every workday or workweek, ask yourself if it is due to anticipation anxiety. You may be nervous about meeting the bully.
- Complaining About Work. Complaining is a coping mechanism and your complaints may be related to the bully. If your family or friends complain about your ever-present complaining, consider bullying as a possible source.
- Blood Pressure. Due to bullying, anxiety may be increasing your blood pressure, putting you at risk for heart problems. Your doctor might tell you to switch jobs if the problem is persistent.
- A supervisor or fellow employee may bully through yelling at you in front of others. This is embarrassing and manipulative.
- Gossip and Critical Comments. Bullies often target one or two people to verbally pick on and spread slander about. Don’t encourage others to complain about your co-workers and take note of repeating offenses.
- Passive-aggressive bullies might simply ignore and avoid you. This can be a problem if they are vital to your work or get others to join in excluding you from mealtimes, meetings, or conversations.
- Not Forgiving. Forgiving is not forgetting. Forgiving is not holding past mistakes against someone. Bullying supervisors or coworkers may continually remind you of past mistakes.