It’s National Bullying Prevention Month. Traditionally, bullying conjures up images of the school bully roughing up the “squirt” in the boys’ bathroom. But did you know that bullying is not isolated to school hallways or playgrounds? An alarming 35 percent of adults have been bullied or are currently experiencing bullying. What’s even more shocking is that this bullying is happening at work.
While many adults push lawmakers to pass anti-bullying laws to protect children from being harassed online and in school, many of them are afraid to confess that they’ve been a victim of bullying in the office.
Bullying bosses is nothing new and many victims are keeping it a secret because they would rather not stir the pot for fear of retaliation. Unlike playground bullies who often use their fists to scare victims, workplace bullies generally use words to intimidate.
Any of the following behaviors can be regarded as bullying, including:
- Verbal threats/written threats via email
- Being humiliated in meetings among peers
- Criticism that is undeserved
- Exclusion from meetings or communication relevant to your job
Dealing with a workplace bully can be difficult and often causes work productivity to suffer. In fact, many employers are taking steps toward implementing anti-bullying measures because bullying is hurting the bottom line. It can cost a single business $83,000 a year as a result of absenteeism and stress-related issues, says Civility Partners LLC.
While employers are currently working toward resolving bullying issues in the workplace, it’s important that bullied victims take steps to stop the bullying as well. Whether it’s a peer or supervisor causing a hostile work environment, you have to do something about it.
Health Advocate provides the following advice if you feel you are a victim of a bully in the office:
- Your employee assistance program can help. Most individuals do not want to bring it up in the workplace for fear of word getting back to the bully; loss of job; or loss of promotion. Regardless of these feelings, talking to an objective third party who knows how to deal with these kind of issues will be helpful.
- Contact human resources. You don’t have to tell HR the name of the bully. You can explain that someone in the department has been bullying you repeatedly. It’s important to have a record on file as proof in case of retaliation.
- Confront the bully. Tell the bully how you feel and how unfair you are being treated. Stay as calm as possible when confronting the bully. It’s best not to yell or threaten. Often bullies are looking for this type of behavior because it will encourage them to come back for more.
- Be confident. Don’t feel intimidated or let the bully make you feel bad about yourself.
- Don’t isolate. Don’t be afraid to be yourself around your other colleagues. Keep your relationships with your workplace friends.
The emotional problems associated with bullying can really take a toll on one’s life. It’s crucial that you resolve the problem immediately. No one wants to work in an unpleasant environment. If you feel that you can’t stand up to the bully by yourself, make sure to get a third party involved, such as an advocate or seek help from your human resources department. If you’ve also been badly affected by the bullying at work, don’t be embarrassed to seek outside professional help. A family doctor can refer you to a counselor.