Bullying in the Workplace

why do people bully

Bullying doesn’t just happen in the schoolyard. Professionals can also experience bullying in the workplace. There are many reasons why people bully and there are steps a professional can take to bring it to a stop. National Stop Bullying Day is October 13, a day focused on examining the causes, the effects, and the solutions to bullying, no matter where it may happen.

What Does Bullying in the Workplace Look Like?

When people think about bullying, they may envision children pushing each other down on the playground. In the workplace, the aggressive acts look a little different, of course, but may have similar root causes. Adults who bully may do so by:

  • Excluding others purposely from meetings or social activities
  • Berating people by making snide remarks or with unfounded criticism
  • Cyberbullying, stealing identities or posting insulting messages
  • Threatening others with demotions or other workplace consequences
  • Threatening physical violence.

Why Do People Bully?

Adults who bully others in the workplace may do for many reasons, including:

  • Feeling powerless themselves
  • Suffering from an insecurity about their job or career
  • Needing to control other people and situations
  • Enjoying the rewards that they feel they get from their behavior.

The aggressive behavior tends to be learned. Pushing other people around, literally and figuratively, may have been the way individuals were treated at home as they were growing up, for example. They may not have learned any other, more productive, way to deal with conflict or to manage disagreements.

In the workplace, supervisors may bully their subordinates to keep them from questioning decisions. They may be attempting to deflect attention away from their own incompetence. In other cases, the status level of a supervisor or director may lead the individual to believe they are entitled to bully people “under” them.

Many workplace bullies lack empathy, are emotionally unstable, and may have narcissistic traits. When they intimidate others and feel they are in control, it helps them better about themselves as a way of self-soothing.

Effects of Bullying in the Workplace

When a professional is the target of aggressive behavior in the workplace, they may experience a number of mental and physical health issues, such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Eating and sleeping changes
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling powerless, confused, and helpless
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Those who witness the bullying behavior can also feel its effects. A decrease in morale and an increase in employee turnover rates often result from such toxic workplaces.

Research has found that victims as well as those who witness the attacks are more prone to mental health issues that may require prescriptions such as antidepressants, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. The research has also found that bullying can lead the victim to turn to excessive use of drugs and alcohol in an attempt to cope, which can in turn lead to a harmful addiction.

Steps to Stop Bullying in the Workplace

On National Stop Bullying Day, it can help to understand more about steps that can be taken in the workplace. It’s important to remember that bullying is about power and control and is not a reflection of the victim’s workplace ability or competence.

Taking action against bullying should involve documentation, saving any physical evidence, and reporting all incidents. If the individual feels comfortable confronting the bully, they should involve a trusted co-worker or supervisor who can be a witness to the conversation, which should then be calm, direct, and polite. If the behavior continues, it can become necessary to seek legal guidance, particularly if the bullying has resulted in an impact on the individual’s career.

Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for Professionals in Philadelphia

At Providence Treatment, we understand that, as a professional, you experience stress and anxiety. if you are suffering the mental health effects of bullying in the workplace, particularly if that has led to an addiction, it is time to get help. When you are ready to get outpatient addiction treatment in Philadelphia, we are ready to help you. Our expertise is in serving high-profile clients and licensed professionals like you.

Don’t let addiction to drugs or alcohol take over your life. You can overcome addiction with outpatient treatments at Providence Treatment. If you need help getting clean, then contact us at 484.469.9592, and you can begin your recovery as soon as possible.

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