By Jack Kelly
You would think that mean-spirited behaviour ends in high school, but unfortunately, bullies have infiltrated the adult workplace. Office bullying has become so normalised that it affects more than one-third of the labor force, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.
Workplace bullies engage in psychologically abusive tactics, such as intimidating, humiliating and degrading their co-workers, to exert their power and control to undermine the confidence of others and prevent them from succeeding. One of their main goals is to eliminate a competitor. This could be due to their own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. Executives may manipulate and intimidate others for their own personal gains. This toxic behavior creates an unhealthy and hostile work environment.
It’s an awful feeling when you are afraid to be in the office or on a video call with a bully. You are always walking on eggshells. Sensing weak prey, others may join the tormentor. Workplace bullying substantially and sometimes irrevocably changes lives and ruins careers. It causes deep-seated doubts, fear and an overall loss of self-confidence.
How To Stand Up For Yourself
Confronting a workplace bully requires courage, assertiveness and focusing on what you can control: speaking up early on, documenting the abuse and taking care of yourself.
Report the behavior to human resources and senior-level executives within your division. Provide specific details about the abhorrent behavior, including dates, times and specific incidents. Follow your company’s processes for complaint resolution.
It may be helpful to speak with a therapist or counselor who can help you cope with the emotional toll of workplace bullying and develop strategies for dealing with the situation. Consider transferring to a different department or team. If nothing is getting done by the company, seek outside legal advice. When it gets to the point where your mental health is badly affected and you take it home with you, it’s time to start looking for a new job.
Workplace bullying can have severe and long-lasting consequences on recipients’ health, productivity and growth. Victims of workplace bullying can suffer long-term physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, depression, hypertension, a loss of self-esteem, decreased productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism.
Employers need to recognise and address workplace bullying, as it can have devastating effects on the mental and physical health of employees, as well as the bottom line of the organisation.
Jack Kelly is a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms.
This article first appeared on the Forbes website