What to Do When Workplace Bullying Starts Affecting Your Career
When you think of bullying, you probably think of school-aged children, not grown adults in the working world. However, some people do not become more mature and compassionate as they age. Often, individuals who were bullies as children grow up to be bullies as adults—and torment their coworkers.
Here’s what you need to know about workplace bullying, and how to deal with it so that your career doesn’t suffer.
(Image Credit: Found Animals Foundation/Flickr)
If you’ve ever been bullied as a child, you’ll probably recognize it when you see it at work. However, if you’ve never experienced it before, then you could mistake the inappropriate behavior as a judgment of your skills or competence—and that’s terrible for you as a person and a professional.
Here are some common forms of bullying to look out for, as outlined by Bullying Statistics:
- Shouting or swearing at an employee or otherwise verbally abusing him or her.
- One employee being singled out for unjustified criticism or blame.
- An employee being excluded from company activities or having his or her work or contributions purposefully ignored.
- Workplace bullies use language or actions that embarrass or humiliate an employee.
- Practical jokes, especially if they occur repeatedly to the same person.
Effects of Bullying
Workplace bullying isn’t just a nuisance; it’s also extremely damaging to a person’s well-being and self-worth, which directly affects their career. Studies show that bullying can result in stress-related health complications such as hypertension, depression, anxiety, and even PTSD, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. What’s more, workplace bullying also contributes to lower morale, higher turnover, and lower productivity due to the hostile work environment created by the harassing behavior. Needless to say, workplace bullying is no joking matter.
In her article for U.S. News, Chrissy Scivicque, founder of Eat Your Career, outlines five steps you can take to nip workplace bullying in the bud, including evaluating the situation to determine if the behavior is consistent, intentional, and directed at you, documenting everything, and getting a supervisor involved if necessary.
“The trick is to remain polite and professional while still setting your limits firmly,” says Scivicque. “Don’t let the bully get under your skin—that’s what he wants.”
Bullying of any sort should never be condoned in the workplace. Managers should be the ones to take action and play an integral part in preventing and dealing with workplace bullying—but, unfortunately, many times they’re the ones doing the bullying. (Here’s what you can do if that’s the case.) In fact, the 2014 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey found that a majority of workplace bullying is carried out by bosses (yes, you read that right), and an astonishing 72 percent of employers deny, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend workplace bullying.
In the end, the office should be a safe environment that promotes and cultivates productivity, camaraderie, and equality—otherwise, the workplace turns into The Hunger Games and you end up fighting for your career to survive, rather than thrive.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you experienced any form of bullying in your career? If so, how did you deal with the situation … or did you? Share your experience with our community on Twitter, or leave your comment below. Sharing is definitely caring in situations like this.
Leah Arnold-Smeets, owner of Emiko Consulting, is passionate about helping entrepreneurs capitalize on their strengths, improve on their weaknesses, and reach their full potential. Leah obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Entrepreneurial Studies from the University of Southern California (USC).