Recently, a great deal of attention is being focused on workplace bullies because they cost companies money due to less productivity. Psychologists refer to bullies as people who psychologically harass others or emotionally abuse employees and co-workers in a repeated effort to wound someone psychologically with words and actions. While it can be difficult to manage a workplace bully, it is possible.
Workplace bullies abuse their power and cause misery to their targeted co-worker by stealing his or her self-confidence. Their tactics can include blaming, making unreasonable demands, insulting, putting others down, threatening job loss, stealing credit or taking more credit and power from someone else, and discounting what their co-worker achieves.
In a recent survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35 percent of workers experienced the repeated mistreatment from bullies first hand, and 62 percent of the bullies were men. A Harris Interactive survey conducted in 2011 revealed that 34 percent of women were being bullied in the workplace.
In the workplace, bullies can take a terrible toll on an organization. Employees tend to feel more stressed and are unable to focus on the tasks at hand. Additionally, there are higher rates of absenteeism and medical leave. Studies by experts in the field estimate the loss to companies due to bullying is more than $200 billion per year.
Bullies are typically narcissistic and are often men. They are also secretive, incompetent, inconsiderate, uncommunicative, type-A personalities, driven to a sense of urgency, lack self-awareness and personal growth, and they crave power and control.
Unlike the typical bully who goes after someone weak, workplace bullies go after competent, accomplished, experienced and popular workers. Their thinking is that if they bully someone who is popular, this will bring more attention to themselves. They use charm, deceit and whatever tactic needed to bring down co-workers. If the worker resists their attempts, the bully behavior can escalate. They typically choose favorites as a way of managing within the institution because they are emotionally fragile on the inside.
Do not ignore bullying behavior and be sure to advocate for yourself. Talk to your immediate supervisor if he or she is not the bully or part of the bullying administration. Keep in mind that some bullies work together.
Keep a private record of emails, texts and any information a bully co-worker sends you. This will help if you decide to take legal action.
While human resources is a good place to visit, many times HR does not know what to do with a bully co-worker. This is especially true if there is no plan in place or if the bully is high up in the administration.
If there is a bully in the workplace, you can be sure you are not alone in your victimization. Talk to other co-workers outside of your work time, so you can organize and execute a plan. Due to a fear of job loss, many co-workers who are not directly affected may choose not to support you.
Ultimately, if there is a bully in an organization, individuals at the top are responsible. If they allow bullying to continue, they will notice a mood of tenseness, stress, more illness, more absenteeism, isolation and less productivity. There must be a strong boundary of what constitutes bullying and zero tolerance. As a result, leadership and empathy workshops are mandatory in many companies throughout the United States.
The financial bottom line is becoming more important in all institutions and companies throughout the United States. When companies realize that bullies are costing them money and a lack of productivity, things begin to change.
Nobody should have to go to work feeling stressed, scared and tense. Your mental health is very important. Seeking counseling for guidance with managing and reducing your stress will keep you from reacting to the bully in an unhelpful way. When you choose to react to workplace bullies with more knowledge, confidence and control, you will reveal bullies for who they are.
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