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VOL. 132 | NO. 137 | Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Angela Copeland

Bullying 2.0: The Mean Co-Worker

By Angela Copeland

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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 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 percent of Americans are bullied at work and another 19 percent 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 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. Forty percent of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects.

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, backstabbing or undermining is never OK 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 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, co-workers 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 endgame 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 physically and emotionally run down. Work to end this cycle of unhealthy behavior today.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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