Bullying, while thought to be a problem confined to adolescence, is actually more common amongst adults than many are led to believe. In fact, nearly a third of adults have experienced bullying, and typically it happens in the workplace. Dr. Ron Riggio, Professor of Psychology and Leadership at Claremont McKenna College, explains that oftentimes child bullies will grow up into adult bullies if bullying is successful for them when they are young. Bullying can be done for many reasons, but Charles Sophy, Medical Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, says that it is usually connected to a person’s insecurities and low self-esteem.
In the workplace the bully is often a boss but other coworkers can be bullies too. Most workplace bullies are men, but women bully too, and when they do other women are typically their targets. Dr. Riggio explains that bullies in the workplace tend to pick out people who are different, often workers with disabilities, or those who are part of underrepresented groups. The effects from bullying can be severe many victims will suffer from psychological problems, such as anxiety, appetite and sleep changes, and depression.
Why does bullying continue to be present in the workplace, and how can the victims be helped? Riggio explains that the bullying is often subtle, verbal, and behind the victim’s back. Even so, many people say they have witnessed a coworker being bullied, but they did not say anything. Dr. Gary Namie, Director at Workplace Bullying Institute, says that this is a problem because victims should not be in charge of reporting their bully. He explains that three groups of people can help victims of workplace bullying: coworkers offering support by getting over their fear of being the next victim, employers enforcing regulations, and lawmakers creating anti-workplace bullying bills. While workplace bullying has not been stopped some states are beginning to take a stand against it.
- Ron Riggio, Professor of Psychology and Leadership at Claremont McKenna College
- Dr. Charles Sophy, Medical Director, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services
- Dr. Gary Namie, Director at Workplace Bullying Institute