a bully in the workplace

better mental health magazine

Bullying does not only apply to acting out children, it unfortunately applies to adults as well. Being a bully is not something one usually outgrows. Bullying is a way of coping and can become a part of an adult’s everyday methods for dealing with getting what they want in life.

Bullying in the workplace is more prevalent than most people expect. The statistics for bullying in the workplace is astounding. In 2010, a study was conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute. This study indicated that 35% of American workers had been bullied. In 2006 Schat, Frone & Kelloway conducted a survey which revealed that 41.4% of workers reported psychologically aggressive acts at work which represented 47 million US workers. The effects of bullying in the workplace costs employers a staggering minimum cost of $4bn a year.

A victim of bullying who faces psychological aggression at work each day is at risk for becoming anxious, fearful, irritable, and seemingly uncooperative to a supervisor or members of a team.

A victim of bullying can:

  • come to work tired from being up all night with worry
  • perform less than desirable
  • take additional sick days
  • begin using substances
  • become depressed
  • increase behaviors at home that lead to domestic violence and other symptoms that on the surface seem difficult to explain.

There are many reasons why situations of bullying are minimized. Without training for both supervisors and victims a complaint of being bullied can get re-categorized as simply a personality problem between victim and victimizer.

A victim can feel afraid that if he complains about an employee he will be defined as a trouble-maker and risk losing his job. As a result a victim of bullying in the workplace usually quits rather than take on the act of disclosing the abuse experienced and be seen as ‘the problem.’

There are effective ways a victim can get prepared before taking the problem to management and ways supervisors can handle the problem to get it resolved. Management is responsible for the safety of each employee. There are currently no specific laws for generic bullying, but this does not mean the management team ought not to take this pervasive problem seriously. Bullying in the workplace is four times more prevalent than harassment, which is legislated against.

Whether you are a victim of bullying in the workplace or an employer trying to understand an employee’s out-of-character behavior and symptoms, bullying in the workplace ought to be considered as the possible problem.

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