You could be bullied at work and not recognize it .... Know the signs
Experiences Outside Work
- You feel like throwing up the night before the start of your work week
- Your frustrated family demands that you to stop obsessing about work at home
- Your doctor asks what could be causing your skyrocketing blood pressure and recent health problems, and tells you to change jobs
- You feel too ashamed of being controlled by another person at work to tell your spouse or partner
- All your paid time off is used for "mental health breaks" from the misery
- Days off are spent exhausted and lifeless, your desire to do anything is gone
- Your favorite activities and fun with family are no longer appealing or enjoyable
- You begin to believe that you provoked the workplace cruelty
Experiences At Work
- You attempt the obviously impossible task of doing a new job without training or time to learn new skills, but that work is never good enough for the boss
- Surprise meetings are called by your boss with no results other than further humiliation
- Everything your tormenter does to you is arbitrary and capricious, working a personal agenda that undermines the employer's legitimate business interests
- Others at work have been told to stop working, talking, or socializing with you
- You are constantly feeling agitated and anxious, experiencing a sense of doom, waiting for bad things to happen
- No matter what you do, you are never left alone to do your job without interference
- People feel justified screaming or yelling at you in front of others, but you are punished if you scream back
- HR tells you that your harassment isn't illegal, that you have to "work it out between yourselves"
- You finally, firmly confront your tormentor to stop the abusive conduct and you are accused of harassment
- You are shocked when accused of incompetence, despite a history of objective excellence, typically by someone who cannot do your job
- Everyone -- co-workers, senior bosses, HR -- agrees (in person and orally) that your tormentor is a jerk, but there is nothing they will do about it (and later, when you ask for their support, they deny having agreed with you)
- Your request to transfer to an open position under another boss is mysteriously denied
You are not stupid for not recognizing bullying, for not seeing the link between your mistreatment and resulting health and social problems. You simply wanted to show how strong you were. The stubbornness is part of your work ethic. Unfortunately, that is why you were exploited in the first place -- your superior technical ability.
You can't take steps to stop the destructive acts aimed at you until you recognize that they are not routine, acceptable or deserved. Once you see that the abuse you endured has no rational reason to ever be present in any workplace, you can make your health your priority and begin to fight back. The longer it takes for you to discover what has happened, the greater the likelihood that stress has begun to erode your health.
See the WBI Target Action Plan for next steps.