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Bullying in the Workplace; Small Amounts Add Up.

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Volume 16, Issue 1

Bullying in the Workplace

We continue to hear and read about bullying in   the   workplace, on the school bus, on the sports field, and  even  in  retirement communities. Bullying has recently received increased attention, because of   an apparent rise in incidents and also because of   the role that social media plays in both fostering and exposing it.

It is estimated that between 35% and 50% of workers have been bullied at some time in their lives. Some of us have experienced a co-worker who has mood swings, or “flies off the handle” and acts unpredictably.   It could be the “silent treatment” or rage or criticism most often in front of others.

A    person    is   considered   to be bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to offensive and hurtful actions on the part of one person or a group of people. In addition, the person being bullied typically has difficulty defending himself or herself.

How do bullies think and behave?

In general, bullies:

Feel a need to control their targets (those they are bullying)

Choose their targets, the timing, locations and methods of bullying

Use offensive and/or intimidating con- duct, verbal abuse, and sabotage, among other methods, to control their targets

May bully overtly (behaviors are obvious to others) or covertly (behind the   scenes, in a hidden way)

Attack their targets repeatedly and methodically

Attempt to involve others in the bullying campaign

Undermine business interests because their personal agendas take precedence over the goals of the workgroup

Recognize possible warning signs of bullying

Not every stressful, conflictive relationship in the  workplace  is  the  result  of   bullying. A   supervisor   who   has   high performance standards of her subordinates is not a   bully. But   if   you   find   yourself   dreading   every workday,   getting   a  knot   in  your  stomach when you see your tormentor, using all  your sick  time  on  “mental  health  days”,  crying silently  at  your  desk,  feeling  fearful  at  the workplace,  and  you  think  that  you  may fit the definition above of a bullied person, then consider   these   possible   warning   signs of being bullied.

You may be bullied by an employee or group of employees who:

  • continually criticize and make you feel “wrong”
  • undermine or even shout at you, particularly when others are around to witness.
  • treat you differently than others, isolate you or refuse to socialize with you.
  • swear at you, yell at you, speak to you  in offensive language.
  • don’t provide you with critical information to do your job while at the same time having access to the information themselves.
  • regularly give you unrealistic goals or deadlines and penalize you for not achieving them.
  • expect you to work more hours, or harder, than others.
  • take credit for your work.
  • physically intimidate you, move into your personal space, or make threatening gestures.

Know How to Respond

It is not easy confronting a bully.  The most common mistake people make is to ignore he behavior, hoping it will go away. Bullying, by definition, happens over time, and is often not recognized until a pattern has developed. This causes the targeted person to feel all the more helpless, defenseless and unable to confront the bully. Here are some helpful tips to successfully respond should you become bullied:

  • Remain calm. Model respectful behavior.
  • Keep a diary of behaviors with details (nature, dates, times, places, other people involved, what was said, etc.).
  • Keep records that   address   the   bully’s performance-related accusations against you.
  • Report the behavior to your Human Resources Department.
  • Seek support. YourEmployee Assistance Program (EAP) is  a  good  source of information  and  support  in  dealing  with workplace issues such as bullying and how it may be affecting you.
  • Decide whether you are willing and able to directly communicate with the bully about his/her behavior. If needed, solicit the support of a supervisor, HR representative or other witness in meeting with the bully.

When confronting the bully, be assertive and direct; stick to specific behaviors; reiterate what you change you expect.

Should you witness a coworker being bullied or bullying, take action. Don’t wait for someone else to “take care of  the problem” or  for  the  targeted  person  to  say  something. The targeted person may be unable to defend himself.  Your Employee Assistance Program is a great confidential resource if you  are unsure of how to intervene or how to report workplace    bullying, harassment,  or  other hurtful   patterns.   Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.


It is estimated that between 35% and 50% of workers have been bullied at some time in their lives.

Small Amounts Add Up

Now that the holidays are over, financial reality may be setting in. Credit card bills are due, the savings account is low and the car needs new tires. Where to get the money? It may be right in front of you, in small amounts, hiding in plain sight. Take a look at how small dollar purchases can add up quickly. Do you recognize any of these spending patterns in your daily routine? Circle ones that are representative of money you are spending (the exact amounts listed here may differ from what you spend).



1movie/week @ $8                                                                               $4162

rented movies/week at Redbox @ $2                                                $1041

pay-per-view movie/week @ $4.99                                                     $259

Netflix/month @ $8.99                                                                          $108

Soda and Candy

1 can soda from vending machine/workday @ $1                          $260

1 candy bar from vending machine/workday @75¢                       $175

Eating Out

Lunch for 260 workdays @ $5                                                             $1,300

Lunch for 260 workdays @ $10                                                           $2,600

Dinner 2 times/week @ $30                                                                 $3,120


1 pack/day @ $4.50                                                                              $1,643

2 packs/day @ $4.50                                                                              $3,285

Lottery Tickets

1 Instant/day @ $1                                                                                  $365

1 Instant/day @ $2                                                                                 $730

1 Instant/day @ $3                                                                                 $1,095


12 cans soda/week @ $3.75                                                                  $195

12 cans beer/week @ $8.50                                                                  $442

5 cups Starbucks coffee/week @ $3.00                                               $780

3 restaurant alcoholic beverages/[email protected] $15                                 $780

Reading Material

2 paperback books/month @ $8                                                           $192

1 magazine/week @ $3                                                                           $156

1 tabloid/week @ $1.60                                                                          $83

Acrylic Nails

New set 3 times/yr @ $25, refill every 2 weeks @$15                     $465

Music Downloads/App Purchases

3 music downloads/week @ $3.87                                                       $201

5 phone app purchases/month @ $10                                                $120

How much you could save in one year if you stopped spending in only one area?   Two areas?                                                   Three areas?                               What bill could you pay off?                    What small steps can you take to save toward one month’s living expenses?

Adapted with permission of The Curators of the University of Missouri, ©2011

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