Holly Hicks, workplacerantings.com
From The Schoolyard to the Cubicle
There is an awful reality in workplaces that is becoming increasingly more common. Sadly, most childhood bullies never change – and end up bullying their coworkers and subordinates. It is one thing to have an annoying, micromanaging boss, but it is a serious matter when that same boss verbally attacks you or constantly sabotages you from being promoted or starts rumors about you at your place of work. The workplace should not be like the schoolyard, where bullies bother younger and smaller children because they like the attention and control.
Types of Workplace Bullying
Being bullied at work causes stress and can result in depression and being forced to leave the job, even if you like it there. A bully can be anyone – a coworker, a nasty boss, or even those in corporate that occasionally check up on you can become controlling, aggressive, and just plain mean. Sadly, the bullies that you grew up with in school never change and never learn to deal with their problems. They turn their inner anger and depression into aggressive verbal and nonverbal behavior and choose anyone to personally attack. What if that person becomes you? There are a number of things to look out for in these bullies that are similar to Big Johnny’s childish behavior at recess.
Verbal abuse by a workplace bully can include anything from yelling obscenities, to instigating arguments and calling you names. Bullies can also use their powers to cause rumors around the workplace and turn co-workers against you with false claims, or humiliate you by constantly calling attention to mistakes or flaws, even mentioning personal things that have nothing to do with work.
When a bully becomes aggressive, this can include offensive, abusive contact and is disruptive to the work environment: slamming doors, even causing physical altercations at work. This is akin to childhood bullies that think using their hands and causing a scene is the way to get what they want. Being in this type of situation is very scary when the abuser is your coworker or boss and works within the organization of the job.
Unique to the workplace environment, a workplace bully takes full advantage of their ability to be authoritative and controlling, hiding behind the politics of the workplace. Work sabotage can mean anything from preventing promotion or pay raises, to providing negative references when you are forced to quit. Workplace sabotage can be stressful and personal as the attacker is now manipulating their employees or coworkers and preventing you from getting that promotion or pay raise that you deserve. You may feel helpless and stuck, not knowing what to do. No one talks about this issue of workplace bullying, and it’s stressing you out.
How to Deal with Workplace Bullying
If you are a victim of such abuse in the workplace, whether it is emotional or physical, it is important to begin documenting such instances so you have written record. Write the date, time, and type of abuse and by whom. Write down how often the bullying occurs, if the type of bullying escalates (gets worse or more threatening), and how you have been affected by the abuse:
- Have you been going to counseling due to the stress?
- Are you unable to get promoted/a raise because your supervisor sabotages your effort?
- Do you think about quitting but are worried about how the bully will react if you quit?
- Do you have high blood pressure and high stress levels due to this problem?
- Are you lashing out at home because of the issue and are afraid to talk about it?
If you are a victim of aggressive behavior and you have been shoved, hit, or have damaged property, definitely take pictures and record that behavior as well. File a police report for serious cases of abuse, such as physical fights. If you have an employment handbook or manual, see what the Harassment section says and follow those steps. Alert HR about this issue and if they do not help, escalate the issue to the Department of Labor in your state. Remember most of all that millions of people experience some form of workplace bullying and you are not alone, so don’t give up and don’t let the bully win.