Bullying in the Workplace

How to deal with bullying in the workplace.

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Author: Diane Dean, RN, LPC

 If you thought only shin kicks, hair pulls and name calling summed up bullying, think again. Co-workers' sneers, whispers and gossip-gone-wild in the office underscore that bullying is not just for kids. A 2010 study conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) noted that one in three employees have experienced bullying at the office. Moreover, 80% of the bullying was initiated by a female who is targeting another female co-worker, and 62% of the bullies were men.

Workplace bullying leads to the victim experiencing exorbitant levels of stress, and it often results in time taken away from work, sometimes without pay. In a recent study, 15-18% of those bullied took some paid time off of work (short or long-term disability, or early retirement), and 10% used unpaid family medical leave benefits.  Survey results taken earlier this year indicate that nearly three-quarters of administrative leaders believe workplace bullying to be “a serious problem.”

Traditional stress management techniques, like deep breathing, imagery, and taking breaks away from the office, can help. Improving communication skills, working to create and maintain balance in your life, and practicing extreme “self” care will grow your resilience.

Research supports that taking natural herbal and mineral remedies may also help to subdue your stress. A 2008 study showed that the scent of lavender restored normal levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a stressor was introduced. Many research subjects also reported a mood-lifting effect from the scent of lemon. Passionflower, a purple-hued flowering plant, along with lemon balm and lavender, has been known to reduce anxiety and stress. Studies also support that passionflower may help your sleep quality. Homeopathic remedies, like Magnesium phosphoricum, work to relax tight muscles and temper nerves, thus encouraging relaxation.

Like many other health movements recently, the government is stepping in. The Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB), a bill introduced by lawyer David Yamada, assists by:

            •           Providing an avenue for legal remedy for cruelty at work that affects health

            •           Allowing employees to sue the bully as an individual

            •           Holding the employer accountable

            •           Allowing for restitution for lost wages as a result of bullying

Currently, there is no law for workplace bullying, yet the HWB has been enacted in almost half of the states in the country. 

So, don’t wait until you’re ready to pull out your own hair! While the question remains as to whose responsibility workplace bullying is, it makes sense to take matters into your own hands by communicating with your supervisor, and if appropriate, with the bully him or herself.  Also, employ other healthy measures like using stress-management and relaxation techniques and remedies to quell your workplace woes and worries.

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