If you thought bullying was over after elementary school, think again. No longer confined to boundaries of the schoolyard, the new face of bullying is far more sophisticated and adult! Workplace bullying is a growing epidemic that has prompted numerous groups to press Congress on legislation that would outlaw it. With more than one-third of the U.S. workforce being bullied, it’s a shocking truth deserving of significantly more exposure. The Boston Globe discussed the topic late last month, shedding light on what has become the workplace’s “dirty little secret.”
The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), an organization committed to studying, correcting, and preventing abusive conduct at work, defines workplace bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or work interference—sabotage—which prevents work from getting done, or verbal abuse.”
Because most people aren’t sure whether their abuse actually constitutes bullying, they often choose to suffer in silence. Unfortunately, however; when victims do speak out, their complaints are often marginalized or ignored. Gary Namie, a social psychologist and co-founder of the WBI, describes the mental anguish that victims experience in advocating their claims. “[Victims] are treated as if their complaints are illegitimate. Sexual harassment is illegal, but bullying is not,” Namie says. Clearly there is a need to escalate this issue to the national stage.
Have you been bullied at work? Or, do you know someone who has?
You don’t have to remain silent any longer.
Here are four critical signs of workplace bullying that you need to be aware of:
1. Emotional Manipulation.
• taunting, name-calling, and humiliation
• socially ostracizing victim(s)
• threats of job loss related to alleged performance failures
• excessive monitoring or micromanaging
2. Serial Harassment.
• repeated pestering that causes mental and emotional anguish
• chronic criticism of past performance
• following victim around with the intent to harass
• chronic fault-finding
• inciting rumors
• deliberately making hurtful remarks within victim’s earshot
3. Professional Sabotage.
• undermining performance
• failing to provide critical resources necessary to job execution
• stealing or destroying work product
• overloading with work linked to impossible deadlines
• purposely assigning tasks outside of expertise
• failure to provide feedback
4. Your Mental, Emotional, and Physical Well-Being are Compromised.
• you are depressed and find it difficult to go to work
• you are tense, nervous, and experience physical symptoms of discomfort
• you are constantly in fear of abuse
• you are unable to concentrate on your work
• you avoid contact with others and become a recluse
• you miss work in an effort to avoid the abuse
What can you do?
You have the power to stop workplace bullying right now. Review WBI’s 3-Step Target Action plan and get involved here.
Take workplace bullying to the mat!
Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.