Amy has been an online writer for several years. Her goal as a writer is to spread as much knowledge as she can about saving money.
Bullying Isn't Just in Elementary School
We as adults teach our kids about bullies. Sometimes we can't forget our encounters with bullies from our school years. After we graduate from our school, we get jobs and think it will stop. Little did we know that some adults in the workforce are bullies too. We are still vulnerable to the abuse of a bully, even as we get older.
It's sad to say that people can be bullied at any age. It may be done in a different way but the harsh behavior stays the same. Grown-ups are bullied in the workplace every day.
Research has found that 35% of American's have experienced being bullied at their jobs. The other 15% witness it, and the remaining 50% are involved directly. They are either the target or the actual bully.
I Have Been Bullied at Work
I have been bullied at two different jobs. I won't share the details of the abuse, but I will share what I have learned from these experiences. At the time, I did a lot of research on this topic. I also received an endless amount of advice. When I was bullied I was in my early and mid-twenties. During those years I made many mistakes in handling both situations. It was not my fault and I don't feel bad about myself or blame myself in any way. After going through these two experiences I gained both a valuable and difficult education.
Hopefully, you will not have to go through what I did. I can simply share the lessons I have learned with you. My mistakes will be brought to light in this article. I hope the knowledge I am sharing helps people going through the same thing I did.
Don't feel bad if you have made some of the mistakes I have. It's normal to have a hard time reacting to bullying. Hopefully, these lessons make you feel hopeful and empowered!
1. Take Back Control in Your Life
Sometimes it's hard to let go of things when you are having a hard time at work. You might replay things in your mind and ask yourself why it's happening. Maybe you feel that you could have done something differently.
It is a big mistake to do this. Letting it ruin your life by obsessing over it robs you of all of your power. It makes you feel weak and hopeless. You may start to feel insecure and confused. I felt that some of it was my fault and some of it was theirs.
Often when you are overly fixated on a problem, it can lead to addiction in your life. You may try to "escape" from it all. Many studies have found that there is a strong connection between bullying at the workplace and suicide.
I remember a friend of mine who's cousin killed himself over extreme workplace abuse and bullying. It's very hard not to let workplace bullying ruin your life. Get yourself out of the cycle. You need to take action. There are many different ways you can take action. You can host an intervention, confront your bully yourself, or get personal counseling. If you don't do anything about the situation you will internalize it and not be able to control your feelings.
When you are off from work try to relax and stop thinking about the situation. Bring your focus to positive things. If you are a religious person, prayer often performs miracles.
Proactive Things to Do When Being Bullied
Keep a written account of every time you are bullied.
Report the bullying to the higher-ups.
Aviod the bully when possible. Give them fewer opportunities to bully.
Pair up with a co-worker when possible. You are less likely to be bullied when you are with someone else.
Walk confidently with your head up. Convey self confidence, bullies shy away from it.
Pay attention to how you are sleeping, eating, feeling, and functioning at work. If there are changes seek a therapist or Employee Assistance Program.
2. You Are Not to Blame
People that are bullied often think that it's their fault. Maybe I'm not a good worker? Maybe I am stupid? Some are even lead to think that they are not nice people. What happens is that we actually start to believe the rumors that the bully is telling everyone. We start blaming ourselves.
You do not deserve to be bullied! Always remember that. Nobody deserves the abuse and misery. The bully actually wants you to think that you do. Never listen to the lies. We are all imperfect. The only thing that should be expected of us is that we do the best job we can.
By law, if a supervisor has a problem with the way you do your job, they are required to inform you in a professional way. Degrading or intimidating someone is not allowed by any respectable company in any way.
There has been a lot of research done on bullying in both adults and children. Researchers have found that the target is almost always chosen because of their strength. Surprisingly, they are not chosen because of their weakness.
Some people think that only weak and awkward people are the victims of bullying. People with many strengths are often bullied as well.
Bullies at the workplace are bothered by a strength they see in their target that they do not possess. Maybe the victim is more intellectual, more educated, or more efficient and organized. The bully will try to abuse and bother that person out of jealousy.
If you are being bullied at work it might be because you are a good person and a hard worker. Maybe you are very personable and people feel comfortable with you. It certainly does not mean that you are stupid or a terrible person.
Never blame yourself! Sometimes it's hard not to, but you have to. Your bullying situation could be a test to strengthen you emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It's hard being put down, alienated, and picked on for no reason. Regardless, you will come out stronger due to the experience!
3. Don't Let the Bully Scare You
One of the most difficult things to do when someone is trying to overpower you is to make the decision to not be overpowered. When bullies try to scare you, it's due to their aggression. They are doing because they know they can and they want to make you feel insecure.
You have the same rights at work as they do. You were hired by the same company and have legal rights within that company as well. If your boss has been working there a lot longer than you, it does not give them the upper hand to the way they treat people.
Don't allow people to mistreat you. If your abuser does or says something that makes you feel bad, stick up for yourself in a professional and firm tone.
There are certain kinds of discipline a supervisor has a right to implement. If they are simply letting you know that you need to perform your job more efficiently, they are supposed to advise you in a professional and fair manner. They don't have the right to sit around and wait for you to make a mistake or insult you in front of others.
There is a vast amount of resources out there to teach people how to deal with workplace bullies. There is a website called Kickbully.com that teaches victims how to deal with bullies and beat them at their own game. A site called Reachout.com helps victims go through the proper steps and locate the resources they need to solve their bullying problem.
When you decide which strategy you are going to utilize, take action. There are many different ways to confront or talk to your abuser in a professional and efficient manner. Advise them that you will try to get help or just simply leave the job and take recourse. There is no reason why you have to suffer for a long time.
The Boss That Is A Bully Is A -
— Ty Howard
4. Things Won't Get Better Unless You Take Action
Sometimes it's hard for us to tell if we are being bullied or if what is happening is part of everyday work life. If you feel that you are being mistreated at your workplace it probably won't get better on its own. The stage is already set by the bully and chances are it won't change unless you take action.
Bullies are always multiple-time offenders. They will always choose one or two people to abuse. They are either forced to stop or will find a different target. If you weren't there, they would have found someone else. It's just part of their unhealthy mind and destructive make-up.
It's always their mental issue. It's a natural way of life for them. The only thing that can stop them is if someone stands up and proves that they will not be bullied or if another individual makes them stop. It gets even more intense as they gain confidence and get away with their inappropriate work behavior.
5. Always Write Things Down
One of the biggest mistakes somebody can make while being bullied at work is not writing it down along with the dates of each bullying incident.
When I was being bullied at work, I had a sense that I should be writing things down as they happened. There were times that I felt that the bullying wasn't so bad and didn't bother to write down what was happening to me. The day came when I couldn't deal with it emotionally anymore.
Writing down each incident as it happens should be your first priority. If you don't write accurate dates and occurrences of the incidents, the legal system, and human resources will have proof that it actually happened.
You need to keep documentation in order to show it happened. Write down everything, even if it's small, so that you may show the pattern of what happened to you.
How to Document Properly
When you document what is happening to you while being bullied at work, do it in a professional and business-like way. Don't let your feelings reflect on the paper. Keep things simple and to the point. Simply write down what happened. Here is a great example:
- October 5, 2015 – While doing my work this morning at my desk I was confronted by my boss Kathy. She raised her voice and asked me loudly - "What in the world are you doing?" Her tone was threatening, not playful in any way. She then walked away.
- December 5, 2015 – Our team was having a meeting in the conference room at 2:00 p.m. I waited my turn and made a suggestion about the filing system. She pretended she didn't hear me, turned her head, and whispered to one of my co-workers while pointing at me.
6. Have Confidence In Yourself
Confidence brings freedom. Don't be scared or intimidated by your bully. People have been telling us our whole lives to be nice. When you're sideswiped with harassment at work you sometimes don't know how to react to it.
We are told to listen to our supervisor and respect authority. I knew the bullying was wrong and still did nothing about it. I didn't have the tools and resources to handle it. I let the bully get to me.
Taking garbage from your abuser opens the gates for more episodes of harassment to happen to you and to others.
If I was faced with an abusive situation at work at this point in my life, I would have confidence in myself to take the proper action right away without being scared or intimidated
7. Make Your Meetings Public
When I was going through my bullying situation at work, I was often called in for one on one meetings with my supervisor. In these meetings, she would talk about my position and inappropriate rules she enforced on me. None of these meetings were recorded in any way.
When I realized these meetings were wrong, I had no proof that they even happened.
Any meeting that gives you an uncomfortable feeling should be documented in some way. Especially when you are being mistreated at work.
Never let a meeting take place without keeping some kind of written documentation of it. Ask your boss to send you a brief e-mail about what happened in the meeting.
If you feel uncomfortable doing this, either send it yourself or write your own outline in your personal documentation. It is an excellent document to have on hand for a human resources meeting.
Only document when the meetings are about your performance, policies, or anything else that seems of importance to you. If you do your job based on something that is told to you in the meeting and it's not right, you could face consequences that are not your fault.
Many people that work in human resources know that you are responsible for anything you say to your staff. A one on one meeting is a definite sign that your boss is trying to be sneaky and get away with something.
Another bullying strategy would be leaving you out of a staff meeting that you were supposed to be attending. Always keep a record of this as well.
8. Reach Out Early, Don't Wait
Always ask for help and don't be scared. Sometimes when we are being mistreated at work we are ashamed to ask for help from Human Resources, we might not want to take the step. It's understandable.
Don't wait a long time to ask for help. The more time you waste, the more taken down you feel. Ask for help right away, Human Resources can tell you what your rights are and stand by you.
The Human Resources department at your job is a great place to start in order to get help. If they let you down, you can always go further and get help from a friend, therapist, or religious aid. EAP services are also a wise place to go to for help. If you really want to tackle the problem you may even talk to a lawyer regarding your rights as an employee.
Surprisingly, Human Resources might not always stick up for you. If not, there are many other places to go.
If an individual tells you that you don't have a strong enough case, don't listen to them. Keep moving forward with your problem. Talk to someone else. Sometimes people want to avoid confrontation, or are part of the bullying and we don't even realize it. Speak with someone that has an extensive history of knowledge.
Get help as soon as possible when you feel that you are being mistreated. Waiting only makes everything worse. Still having your confidence while getting help will only make things better for you. If the bullying goes on for many months, you will be too beaten down to handle the recourse.
9. Take Time for Yourself
When an individual is experiencing workplace bullying, it is very hard on them both mentally and emotionally. You may experience stress, self-doubt, confusion, anger, and hopelessness. You should be taking care of yourself even more than you usually do.
Often, when we are faced with great stress, we turn to addiction and conflict. We need some kind of escapism. These are all negative ways to deal with stress. They can hurt your life more in the long scheme of things.
Eat the best you can, exercise, and do things you love. If you are faced with a bigger workload from the bully, don't let it consume your daily life. Take time to relax.
Spend time with your friends and family. Open up to them about what is happening to you.
Don't Give In to Overeating
When I was being mistreated at work I felt some really heavy stress at times. It was hard to take time out to do something nice for myself.
As a way of replacing doing something healthy for myself, I would often overeat and not exercise. It didn't help me, it made me feel and look worse.
10. Don't Shut Everybody Out
Bullies are well-known for alienating, gossiping, and spreading rumors about people. They want other co-workers to bully you as well.
Little by little you will become the target of everybody you work with. Other people may or may not stay away from you. They may feel that their jobs will suffer if they befriend you being that their boss doesn't like you. You may lose the people you felt were there for you.
Don't give in to anybody. Keep interacting with everybody in your workplace in a professional and friendly way. Anybody that is worth it will not disassociate themselves with you. Inform them of what is going on briefly. Don't overdo it. You need people on your side at this troubling time.
You may feel like isolating yourself from your co-workers. Cruelty at the workplace can do that to you. Don't give in to it, keep your relationships strong at work.
How I Decided to Leave
It was my own personal choice to leave the job where I was being bullied. I could have opted to stay and try to change my work situation. The reason why I didn't was that I found the abuse and emotional toll was too high. I needed a positive change. I needed to move on.
Each and every person has different strengths and weaknesses. You should take a close look at what you are best at. What are you most passionate about? If you have tried to file a complaint and received no action from Human Resources you should probably ask yourself if it's worth it.
Whatever your decision is, it is possible to move in a more positive direction and heal from the experience. You can feel awesome again. It is empowering and liberating to know that you are not alone with workplace bullying. There are many others that face the same situation. The more workplace bullying gets addressed and confronted the better off everybody will be.
My Final Words
You need to make a decision on whether or not you want to stay. You can stay and fight for yourself and your rights, maybe you can change things for yourself at work. You will never be able to change the bully but you might be able to bring light to what they are doing. If you are lucky you might stop it from happening to other people.
If your situation at work is too much, make plans to leave. Your life, health, and overall happiness are more important than money. Don't let them beat you down emotionally. You can lose yourself and your spirit for your next job. It's your choice. Overall you need to listen to what your gut is telling you. If you can't find any relief from your work stress, your body and mind might be telling you to move on!
Helpful Websites on Bullying
- The Healthy Workplace Bill
The WBI Anti-Bullying Legislation
- Home | StopBullying.gov
Bullying can happen anywhere and to anyone. Help stop bullying at school, online, and in the community. For more information, visit StopBullying.gov.
- Workplace Bullying Institute - WBI - Help, Education, Research
Work Shouldn't Hurt!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Elrica Sakoor on May 24, 2019:
Thanks great article ! Good solid advice.
I am being bullied now. Which is spreafing throughout the floor. Not prepared to leave. I've left previous good jobs and suffered as a result.
Amy (author) from East Coast on December 30, 2016:
Thanks for reading my hub! Yes, staying calm "in the eye of the storm" when it comes to bullying always works. It's only an unhappy person your dealing with, nothing to be afraid of.
skperdon from Canada on December 30, 2016:
You are so right! I used to be bullied at work and social events because I used to ignore the bullying, but it did stay in my mind, to the point where it felt like my mind was ill.
My bullying problem stopped when someone I was close to got bullied, I stood up her and it worked.
I recognised that I should do it for myself and it worked!
I started with confrontation though but that blew up in my face a few times and I learned to assess the the situation before I use any tactic as a solution, non-bullying of course, I won't stoop to a bully's level.
I enjoyed reading your hub Happymommy2520!
Amy (author) from East Coast on December 29, 2016:
Thanks for reading Larry! I agree, bullying at work stinks!
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on December 29, 2016:
I've been bullied before at work. It's no fun.
Amy (author) from East Coast on December 29, 2016:
I was also bullied at work. I just remember it like it was yesterday. If it happened again I would be a lot calmer about it. As you get older you get wiser!
McKenna Meyers on December 29, 2016:
Great advice, Amy. Your situation sounds a lot like mine. I'm glad this issue is finally getting attention because we need to know we're not alone and how to respond in a professional, pro-active way. I appreciate how you destroyed the myth about the victim of bullying being a weak person. Research proves that's not the case. Just like a conscientious student is often picked on in middle school, a hard worker is often picked on in the office. That was my situation. I, too, gained a lot of weight when I was getting bullied. I didn't know how depressed I was until I quit my job and many months had passed.