Growing up, it seemed like one of the perks of being an adult was a lack of bullies. After all, bullying stops after high school graduation, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. A few bullies sneak through life without giving up their bullying ways. Often, these meanies resurface at work, making your eight hours there much less rewarding. Maybe they’re unhappy with their own lives, or perhaps they have other personal issues at play. Whatever the cause, being on the receiving end of bullying is never fun.
After meeting a number of people who have experienced bullying, a few common themes emerge. First, being bullied is something we feel shameful about. We don’t talk about it openly because we feel bad that it’s happening to us. We assume we are the only person it’s happening to. We keep our thoughts locked up and allow them to eat away at us.
But, bullying is real. According to a 2017 study released by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 19% of Americans are bullied at work and another 19% witness it. Bullying affects 60 million Americans.
If we’ve been bullied, we may wonder what’s wrong with us. We assume the bullying is a reflection of us. We think that maybe we’ve chosen the wrong career path. Maybe we’re completely unqualified. We’ve been pulling off a total show until this bully figured out our game.
This internalization of workplace bullying is one of the most toxic experiences we can go through at work. It’s stressful. It takes away our power. And, it can undermine our confidence and our performance. 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects.
Because I have the good fortune to meet many job seekers, I get a chance to see behind the curtains of what we’re all going through. If you are on the receiving end of bullying, you should know that you’re not alone. A workplace bully’s efforts is not a reflection of your abilities.
Aggressive behavior, whether it’s name calling, back stabbing, or undermining, is never okay at work. Period.
If you have found yourself on the receiving end of a bully, work to build your personal team of advocates. Find people you trust that you can talk to and who will be supportive of you as you find a way out of this situation. Document your experience, so you can reflect back on what’s happening over time. Look for opportunities to reach out to folks within your organization for help, such as your manager, coworkers, or human resources. And, consider looking for a job at a new company.
The solution to making it through bullying is not to just survive the day. Your end game is to thrive. You deserve to be treated with respect. Sticking up for yourself in this time of crisis is critical to your future success. Don’t let a bully’s efforts go on until you are both physically and emotionally run down. Work to end this cycle of unhealthy behavior today.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.