If you were bullied in high school, you might be all too familiar with what it felt like being teased, pushed around and even threatened. You may experience some moments of relief while in college; no bullies around, great! Graduation comes and goes, then it smacks you in the face. You start your new career at your new office, and the same mean girls (hypothetically) are back at it with the snickering, gossip, and bad intent.
How do you deal with this? How can you possibly enjoy your new job and even your life when feelings of isolation and rejection come flooding back? We took the time to ask behavioral specialist Dr. Erin K. Leonard, L.C.S.W., Ph.D. questions about bullying in the workforce, and how we can stop it.
BB: Is workplace bullying increasing in the average work environment?
Yes, the statistics of workplace bullying are rising. Over 70% of people in the work force report witnessing workplace bullying.
BB: What actually constitutes as “bullying”?
An individual who actively seeks out another person to continually target with backhanded comments, derogatory statements, and defamatory material is a workplace bully. Often, they spend time talking to other colleagues behind the targets back to discredit them. Frequently, they attack the targets character, and purposefully exclude them from important meetings, emails, or office social functions.
BB: In your opinion, what are the reasons for someone to want to show this aggressive behavior towards others?
A bully bullies because they are profoundly insecure, yet they compensate w narcissism and arrogance, so they do not seem insecure. They seem all Powerful. Yet, they are deeply jealous of their target. Many times it is because the target is a kind, nice, conscientious person who has deep relationships which threatens the bully because they are incapable of that.
BB: When do you believe a workplace bully has gone too far?
Workplace bullies have gone too far when their critique becomes attacking of the targets character. It’s not about the targets work any more. It’s about how bad of a person they are.
BB: How should one deal with a workplace bully?
When targeted by a workplace bully, keep composed. Act like you are unphased. When the bully can’t get a ride out of the target, they will up the anti and become increasingly unprofessional and malicious. At this point, the target must document every inappropriate advance and interaction. After a solid list is accrued the target can go to HR.
BB: What resources do you know of that can help women cope with bullying and toxic relationships?
There are books about how to handle workplace bullies. The one I wrote is, Emotional Terrorism: Breaking the Chains of a Toxic Relationship.
We did some of our own sleuthing to find additional resources to help you deal with bullying, and we came across these:
WeStopHate.org: This is dedicated to teen bullying, and we think it is just as crucial as being harassed in the work force. If you know any teens who are going through a hard time, show them this.
Workplacebullying.org: WBI also has resources and more articles about women on women bullying and what can cause it.
Remember, if you feel like you are a victim of a bully, take Dr. Leonards advice and maintain your composure. Any documentation you can compile of instances can be taken to HR. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself and take action! If you have your own story to share, please start a discussion in the comments.
Main image source: madameriri.com