Bullying at work is an experience that no one should go through. Unfortunately, however, there are people in the workplace who will sometimes resort to bullying tactics to get what they want or to make you feel inferior. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, more than 60 million working people in the United States are affected by bullying.
The act of bullying itself can be traumatic for employees. It can lead to extreme levels of stress, isolation, and even anxiety.
How To Detect Bullying In The Workplace
To start, it is important to be able to pick out instances of bullying. Most often, bullying is pretty easy to spot, while other times it may not be as easy to discern.
Some examples of bullying include:
- Targeted practical jokes
- Being purposely misled regarding work duties
- Denial of requests for time off without a valid reason
- Threats, humiliation, and other verbal abuses
- Excessive monitoring
- Overly harsh or unjust criticism
It is important to note, however, that criticism is not always bullying. Criticism can be a healthy thing to experience at work, but there is a fine line between real, genuine criticism and targeted bullying. If you ever feel like you are always the one to be criticized no matter how much you try to improve, it is likely you are being singled out and bullied.
One of the key points to understand here is that bullying often can be very subtle. A good way to check on this is to ask for others’ opinions on the situation. If something seems like bullying to you as well as your trusted group of friends and family, then it most likely is bullying.
The main types of bullying at work include:
Verbal bullying can consist of being mocked, put down, or chastised unjustly and regularly.
Intimidation tactics are also a form of bullying. This can include harassment, threats, social exclusion, and even spying or undue criticism and pressure.
If you tried to talk about the bullying and were put down, this is also a common bullying tactic. This can lead to accusations of lying, further exclusion, refused promotions, or other forms of retaliation.
Institutional bullying is a very serious form of bullying that involves your employer condoning the bullying and actually promoting it from the top.
How Bullying Affects Your Physical And Mental Health
It is vitally important to address any forms of bullying you may experience in the workplace due to the negative effects it can have on your health over long periods. If you have been bullied, you may experience feelings of sickness, anxiety, and even depression relating to these experiences. Not only that, but this puts you at risk of developing serious chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep issues, headaches, and more.
The psychological effects can be devastating, so what can you do to deal with the anxiety you experience as a result of workplace bullying?
How To Confront Bullying At Work
If you want to improve the anxiety you feel regarding the bullying situation you experience at work, it is important to confront the situation as best as you can. While it is common to feel powerless, this does not mean you should settle for being bullied. It is crucial to understand that bullying is more about power and control rather than who you are as a person – it is not your fault and does not define you!
Here are a few ways to get started:
Document The Bullying
Try to document the bullying actions as they happen in writing or whatever method works for you. Be sure to note the date, time, and people involved and who witnessed.
It is important to hold onto any threatening notes, comments, or emails you receive from your coworker or employer, even if they’re unsigned. If there are documents that can help prove the bullying, such as denied PTO requests or targeted assaults, be sure to save them.
Confront The Bully
While this only works if you feel like there may be a chance of a resolution, trying to approach your bully and telling them to stop can work in some cases. Remember to be calm, polite, and non-confrontational.
Review Work Policies
Your employee handbook will often outline steps that you can take against bullying. Also, consider reviewing legal policies (state and/or federal) about the type of bullying you’re experiencing and be sure to bring these up to your manager or HR department.
Speak With An Independent HR Consultant
At the end of the day, never settle for being bullied! Bullying is something no one deserves to go through, and a majority of employers will support you if you are truly a victim of bullying. So consider these steps to minimize anxiety and begin to take action against bullying in your workplace.
HR Search & Rescue is a full-service HR consulting company for both employees and employers. Our team has extensive experience in handling a variety of challenging, modern workplace issues. Reach out to an independent HR consultant and HR Search & Rescue to discuss how to deal with anxiety and workplace bullying.