Updated: Oct 15, 2018
By Beth Healey, Director of Development and Marketing
Yes, adults ARE bullied. They're bullied by their spouses, neighbors, members of social groups, and by their bosses or other employees in the workplace. The focus of this blog is #bullying in the workplace. Abuse of employees is a serious problem that affects over 60 million Americans.
Are you a target of #workplacebullying, or do you know someone who is? Workplace bullying is cruel and demeaning, to say the least. The person being abused may feel hopeless and helpless. But there are ways to cope. Arming oneself with good information is a step in the right direction.
Hypothetically, let’s say you are a target. “Why me?” has probably crossed your mind. You're filled with self-doubt and may be having thoughts like, “I must be a weak person. A bad employee." If that is the case, then your thoughts are lying to you! Your negative self-talk could be due to the effects of overwhelming stress. (Anyone walking into a hostile environment five days a week is going to be pretty stressed!) Chronic high levels of stress affect both your mental and physical health. Your thought processes can become impaired (negativity, indecisiveness, lack of concentration, lost confidence).
High stress levels can increase the amount of cortisol in your body. A normal level of cortisol provides us the energy to cope with stress or escape from danger. Cortisol regulates a wide range of body functions including blood sugar levels, metabolism and immune system response. You can read about cortisol at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
But consistently elevated levels of cortisol can have a wide range of adverse effects on a person’s health, some of which are:
• Clinical depression
• Suppressed immunity
• High blood pressure
• High blood sugar
• Decreased concentration
• Impaired memory
• Poor skin healing
What Makes You A Target for Abuse?
The truth is, studies have indicated that a workplace target is often:
• Highly competent (intelligent, skilled, creative)
• The most veteran and skilled person in the work group
• Well-liked by others
• Ethical, honest, caring
• Non-confrontational, unlikely to retaliate
• Bullied because of gender, age, race, religion, sexual preference, disability, or even appearance
Possibly, the bully perceives you as a threat; he or she is insecure and envious of you—and most likely struggles with self-esteem and other issues with which he/she does not know how to cope.
How to Deal
In researching, I’ve found that there is an abundance of resources that provide advice on how to deal with workplace bullying. But if I had to extract what I believe to be the most crucial piece of advice, it would be this: make your health (spiritual, mental, and physical) a priority. Talk to a loved one. Get professional counseling. See your primary care doctor if your health is suffering. People also reach out to their pastors, pray for the bully, and work on forgiving him or her. Applying your faith principles to your circumstances will provide you strength and comfort…and what a powerful way to model your faith to those around you!
Taking care of yourself as much as possible will help you to cope until you are able to make a change. The majority of targets ultimately leave the abusive workplace, which is a healthy solution--especially if leadership will not confront the issue and work to resolve it. But until you are able to leave, it is essential to maintain your health!
For help in dealing with the effects of trauma, abuse, and stress, contact Samaritan Counseling, Guidance, Consulting at 412-741-7430.
Sources for this article and other interesting reading: