By Ryan Rivera
Bullying has taken center stage as one of the most serious issues facing society today. What was once considered a problem of the young has now been shown to continue into adulthood, and what was once thought of as harmless growing up is now known to cause lasting psychological and emotional damage on bullied children and adults of all ages.
For adult men and women, one of the most common places of bullying is the workplace. Many adults use bullying as an outlet for the pressures of life, with little regard to the psychological damage it places on those on the receiving end. Those that get bullied have even less power than they would have had just a decade ago, as the struggling economy has made it much harder to find work elsewhere – now, more than ever, those that get bulled in the workplace are likely to take the abuse rather than risk their careers.
How to Relieve the Stress of Workplace Bullying
If you are experiencing workplace bullying, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is legal action. The University of Berkeley has outlined some of the legal options that you have as an employee, and you are well within your rights to take advantage of them. However, here are some additional coping mechanisms for dealing with the stress of workplace bullying:
Acknowledge the Emotions
The most powerful tool at your disposal is knowledge. One of the main issues with workplace bullying occurs when you accept the shame or fear as your own issue. Workplace bullying is very real. If you are able to admit to yourself and others that you’re being bullied in the workplace, you’ll already be well on your way toward coping with the situation.
Log the Bullying
For you to be able to take action, you need to be able to draw upon as many specific examples of bullying as possible. Keep a log book of every example of workplace bullying, no matter who it is from. Keep the log book somewhere safe (so that no one can take it, read it, or steal it) and keep track of every instance. Information gives you power over the bully, and makes taking action easier.
Audio and visual evidence is also in your best interests. If you can record or tape any bullying that takes place, you’ll have a powerful tool against bully manipulation. Again, the evidence you have is power against the bully. Many of those that experience adult workplace bullying feel lost and helpless. Evidence brings that power back. Even if you eventually choose not to use it for valid reasons, knowing that you have it on hand gives you power over the individual(s) bullying you. BullyOnline.org has a valuable resource for those that want to know how to collect evidence, especially if you are ready to go forward with next steps.
Stay Physically Active
Bullying causes an intense physical toll. Often those that experience workplace bullying allow the stress of that bullying to cause them immense fatigue. But exercise – and staying active in general – is a powerful coping mechanism. It burns away stress hormones that cause you to feel illness, improves the balance of neurotransmitters that regulate mood, and tires out your muscles so that you experience fewer physical symptoms.
Evidence shows that workplace bullying affects more than just those that are bullied – it affects those that witness it as well, and in most businesses there are many witnesses. Get others involved so that they can and will help you handle next steps with the bully. Whether it is standing by your side when it happens, supporting your argument when you file a grievance, or helping you log what occurs within the workplace, there are often individuals you can get on your side that will help turn your workplace into a better environment.
Dealing with Workplace Bullies
The most important thing you can do is take action. While bullies deserve to take responsibility for their actions, many of them bully because they have to – it’s their own way of coping with their own inadequacies and pressures. They’re not going to stop simply because you want them to stop. But you are the one that has the law on your side, and as long as you are willing to acknowledge the problem and the effect it has on you, you are also the one that can have the most power. Once you’re ready to take action, you have the opportunity to not only stop workplace bullying, but to help yourself cope with the stress in the process.
About the Author
Ryan Rivera works with many people on anxiety treatment strategies, particularly for the workplace. Now he writes about anxiety and stress at www.calmclinic.com.