So often when we hear about bullying, it is related to children being bullied at school. Childhood bullies grow up to be adult bullies and they are in our workplaces, our volunteer organizations, families and other places. It can be devastating to be bullied as an adult, too, and one would think that, as adults, we have the courage and strength to stand up to it, but that is not always the case. Bullies often choose as their targets, the most competent people because they feel threatened by them. They also choose victims they think won’t fight back and then they conduct their harassment and bullying in subtle ways that make their victims doubt themselves and wonder if anyone will believe them. Generally, bullies are insecure cowards, and that’s what makes them bullies. They try to diminish and intimidate others to get what they want or to elevate themselves. That, in itself, is flawed thinking.
We don’t expect to be bullied by our co-workers, bosses or fellow volunteers, and when it happens, we are often blindsided and don’t know what to do. We may question and doubt ourselves and wonder what we’ve done to cause it. If they are attacking us or our work, we may try even harder. Mature individuals usually look at themselves to see their parts in situations. But there is no maturity involved on the part of the bully, and when victims look to themselves, it just makes them feel worse.
So, how do we recognize bullying? A number of websites now, such as Workers’ Compensation, Occupational Health and Safety, the Red Cross and others devote considerable sections of their websites to workplace bullying, which demonstrates their recognition of a serious problem. The Canadian Red Cross offers courses in Respect. You can visit this site for a very comprehensive list of signs that you are being bullied at work and the effects on you: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/early-signs/
Do you know that 1 in 6 people in the US has been bullied at work in the last year? (http://health.cvs.com). It costs organizations losses due to low productivity, high staff turnover, increased sick time, increased disciplinary actions, dismissals, grievances, and early retirements. It costs the victims of bullying anxiety, insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, exhaustion, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines and many others…. (http://health.cvs.com).
Why do I write about this subject on a BLOG that is devoted to living a creative life? Well, bullying at work has happened to me, and I have experienced firsthand the devastating effects it has. In a million years, I would never have thought that it would happen to me because I am a conscientious dedicated loyal worker who does my best. But, that’s exactly why it did happen to me. I worked with someone who obviously had some insecurities who felt threatened by my competence and did all that she could to make my life miserable. There was another situation in an organization where I volunteered that was unpleasant at best, and I was one of several of that person’s victims. These incidents were a few years ago now, and I’ve put them behind me. But, if there’s anything that I can do to raise awareness and bring attention to this devastating problem, I do so. The other reason that I write about it in this BLOG is because when you are being bullied, it interferes with any attempts to practice and express creativity. Victims of bullying and abuse are in survival mode and there’s no energy left for expressing creativity. This is another impact on the workplace, too….if you have a business, and you allow bullying to go on in your workplace, you are allowing interference with the creativity and innovation in your organization.
If you’re being bullied, get help. Talk to a trusted friend or co-worker. Google bullying in the workplace and read the information on the many websites that now provide good information about the symptoms of bullying and what to do. Seek counseling or attend a workplace bullying support group if there’s one in your area. Take care of yourself by getting some help and support and finding out how to handle the situation.
© Dr. Carla Weaver 2016
WBI the Workplace Bullying Institute retrieved on June 2, 2016 from http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/early-signs/
CVS Pharmacy Health Information Center retrieved on June 2, 2016 from http://health.cvs.com