For anyone who thought that schoolyard bullying gets left behind in grade school, it’s time for a reality check. Bullies may not grow out of their manipulative and abusive tactics, and years after school, these tormenters may be our bosses. If you’re picked on in the workplace, you’re not alone.
For Americans, a standard full-time job position takes place over 40 hours, usually between Monday and Friday. Where we spend that 40 hours should be a comfortable place. It should exist as a place where you can comfortably do your job, where you don’t have to worry about discrimination, and where you should be able to work safely and effectively, right? Wrong.
Well it should be that kind of environment, but unfortunately it isn’t for everyone.
Workplace bullying is no laughing matter. MSNBC reports that, “41 percent of Americans have been psychologically harassed at work.” Almost half of America’s work force has experienced some kind of maltreatment in the place where they spend a great deal of time in order to make a living.
Thousands of Americans feel that their bosses push them around. MSNBC says on the issue, “Abusive supervisors are bosses who humiliate and insult their employees, never let them forget their mistakes, break promises and isolate employees from other co-workers, study author Dana Yagil of the University of Haifa in Israel told LiveScience.”
What’s the most popular coping mechanism? Avoidance. The bullied try their best to avoid the bully. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the issue disappear. In fact, it may make the situation worse. By avoiding an abusive boss, the victim may appear weak or frightened, ultimately just egging on the tormenter. This could open up the door for future and consistent abuse.
The stress caused by workplace harassment is almost immeasurable, considering that different people handle stress in different ways. However, there is one consistent element to the problem — employees cannot possibly work their best in an environment where they feel uncomfortable. For employees, it becomes very challenging to remove themselves from the discomfort in the office to actually get work done.
Bullying doesn’t just take place in the schoolyard; if left unchecked, it makes its way to the adult world of the workplace. If you feel you’ve been picked on in the workplace, you’re clearly not alone.
There are currently no anti-bullying laws in the United States; however, 2012 may change that according to the proposed Healthy Workplace Bill. In essence, the HWB helps to concretely define what constitutes workplace bullying so that victimized employees have a way to fight back against their abusers.
Until that time comes, if bullying is a real issue for an employee, it may help to talk to a higher-up in the company. No one should have to feel uncomfortable or discriminated against in a place where they spend so much of their time. Hopefully drawing attention to this issue will bring about its end.
Lindsey Miller is a lively free-spirit who loves to go out and experience life and then write about it. She takes photographs frequently, listens to music constantly, and bikes aimless hours around Philadelphia—sometimes all at the same time. Lindsey is truly fascinated by human beings and the relationships they have with one another. All she really wants to do is travel the world… and write about it.