Psychiatrist Blog

What is Bullying in the Workplace? Rising above Bullying

child supported by his father

What is bullying? What to do if you are a victim of bullying and how to rise above. 

Has someone ever mocked you for being overweight? What about a boss or supervisor persistently intimidating and threatening you? Or someone calling you names like “loser” and “stupid”? Posting embarrassing videos or photos of you with nothing but a malicious intent to poke fun at you. And even making derogatory comments about your sexual preference or gender identity. These are all real-life examples of bullying.

Bullying is a type of aggressive behavior that involves a repetitive abuse or misuse of power to degrade, embarrass, torment, and belittle others. This abuse of power has been around for ages, mainly in the form of verbal or physical bullying. However, with constant advances in technology, bullying now has reached the social media platform. It has become an epidemic, if you will. So, what happens if you fall victim to it? 

Bullying can have a severe impact on a person’s psychological wellbeing, leading to social isolation, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, insomnia, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harming habits such as cutting and even suicide. Especially in childhood and adolescence, the psychological consequences that stem from bullying may have a significant impact on growth and development into adulthood. This may lead to the inability to develop and maintain positive relationships, self-acceptance, academic success, ability to cope, stress management, and overall wellbeing. Although we frequently compare the topic of bullying to childhood, it’s not to say that this can’t happen to adults.

Bullying in the workplace is a huge problem and often goes “unnoticed” as victims commonly feel that there is no other choice than to deal with it for they fear they may lose their job as a result of confrontation. It does not necessarily have to be an environment filled with a horde of toxic personalities all contributing to the abuse, but can also involve just one single colleague or supervisor. And the same rules apply to adults as they do for children. There is still high risk of inflicting psychological trauma as a result of bullying in the workplace for adults as there is for children and adolescents. 

Overcoming bullying is no easy feat. It is crucial to have a good support team. A few friends, family members, colleagues, or classmates whom you trust and can confide in. You should never feel that you should suffer in silence. Strive to develop effective communication skills to appropriately confront the issues at hand. But always remember, never fight back – whether physical or not. “Bullies” often use their own physical or emotional strength as a power over those that they perceive as weak or vulnerable. But fighting, on all levels, is not the answer. Instead, be confident, find your voice, stand up for yourself in a mature manner. In severe situations, should bullying ever lead to suicidal or homicidal ideations… Stop. Call 911. Go to the Emergency Room. Or at least tell someone nearby. Bullying should never lead to death, although there have been plenty situations where it has. Psychiatry and therapy can be beneficial to those who are or have been a victim of bully abuse. Reach out for help and know that it can and will get better. 


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