Stopbullying.gov describes bullying as unwanted, aggressive, and sometimes repetitive, behavior by a person intended to control, harm, embarrass or otherwise negatively affect another person.
Statistics show children who are victims of bullying can be significantly affected by such experiences into adulthood.
Adults can also be victims of bullying, or harassment, in the workplace (information below). Actions such as verbal abuse that humiliate or intimidate, including damage to, undermining or sabotage of an employee’s work is mistreatment and can be considered bullying.
Types of Bullying:
Physical bullying is hitting, punching, kicking, tripping or other un-welcomed and unwanted contact toward another person/person’s body. This also includes destruction of or damaging another person’s property or possessions.
Verbal bullying is teasing, name-calling, insulting, intimidating and using other verbally abusive words, including racist or homophobic language.
Social and emotional bullying is behavior that intentionally causes humiliation, such as spreading lies or rumors designed to ruin a person’s reputation. Playing mean jokes, making fun of or mimicking another person to cause embarrassment or exclusion is also considered a form of bullying.
Cyber bullying is the same as verbal or social and emotional bullying but through the use of social media or other internet sites including blogs and chat rooms. Posting negative or humiliating photos and videos, sending instant or text messages with the intent to embarrass another person can also be considered as bullying.
Bullying that occurs in the workplace can be in person - at the physical location but now may occur online since many jobs have moved to some aspect of remote work.
When there is a pattern of behavior used/designed to elicit a negative emotional reaction such as fear and anxiety it is bullying. Obvious signs of workplace bullying are verbal (derogatory remarks, mockery, insults, threats, and humiliation; even practical jokes) and physical abuse (aggression, threats, intimidation, and work sabotage). However, subtle bullying is psychological and may not in view of others.*
If you become a target of bullying at work, keep any physical evidence and document incidents with names, dates, times, locations and any eyewitnesses who observed or were present. Review your workplace policies or procedures on how and to whom to file a report. Refer to any state or federal regulations or laws to determine if the bullying you are experiencing is harassment or discrimination and perhaps consider consulting legal counsel for advice on how to handle specific situations.
It is important to get support either from fellow employees, a union representative (if applicable), family and/or friends. Reach out to your Employee Assistance Program if your place of employment offers the benefit or you can meet with a therapist on your own depending on the circumstances.
Whether you are a target or observe a coworker being bullied, report the incident. Employers should have policies and procedures in place to address, handle, reduce and report bullying in the workplace and then have an appropriate and prompt response when notified of occurrences including confidentiality. These may include mandatory training, open and regular communication and exit interviews when employees leave the organization.
*Listen to podcast Episode 4 for more detailed information on the obvious and subtle signs of workplace bullying.