When Adults are Bullied

35% of Americans in the workforce report being bullied. That is roughly 53.5 million workers!workplacebullying.org

It starts with a fist pounding on the desk during a one-on-one meeting.  Next an f-bomb directed your way, or perhaps an unjustified berating in a group meeting.  You’re doing a great job at work and everyone around you knows it, yet all you get from your boss is negativity and anger.  You start to second-guess your abilities in your profession.  Maybe your boss is bi-polar.  Or, maybe she is just a bully!

All of the emotional, mental and physical signs of being bullied as an adult are, to no surprise, strikingly similar to those seen in children.  Sudden lack of interest in work, low self-esteem, withdrawal from things you used to enjoy, physical ailments and depression are just some signs in an adult that they are being bullied at work.

It doesn’t have to be from your boss, bullying can also come from co-workers. Being left out from work-related social events, others regularly arriving late for meetings that you call, responding slowly to requests that were important to you, interference with or sabotage of your work, mean pranks and being lied to are just a few actions by other at work that can be construed as bullying.

As an adult, all of these things seem childish and counterproductive.  Any one or two of these happen to most on a regular basis, but when it becomes constant throughout a day, something needs to be done.  This brings me back to PART 1 of the Bully Debate – is all bullying bad?  Is some childhood bullying necessary to know how to deal with bullies as an adult?  Are adults who were mildly bullied as kids more equipped to deal with workplace bullying?  There is not much reliable data on the subject, so it is opinion on the subject that will currently prevail.  Please leave your comments and opinions below!

What can you do if you feel your being bullied at work?  Ideally your workplace is large enough to have an effective Human Resources department to help.  However, in the bully example above, the company’s HR department was ineffective and poorly run.  Although it was a good company to work for, the employee had no other choice but to quit.  What else can you do when HR doesn’t work, and it is financially impossible to quit your current job?  Certainly you should be putting your feelers out for a new job in a different company.  If you like your current company and feel your skills can be use in another department with better co-workers, by all means, consider an internal transfer.  There aren’t too many choices for change.  The decision will be difficult.  With good friends and family, you can get through any difficult situation.

Have you been bullied at work?  How were you bullied?  What did you do?  Let me know!