Abuse at work happens because organizations and governments allow for it — and even reward it.
Employers set the tone for the work culture from the top down. Without employers giving consequences to abusers, and without governments giving consequences to employers, abusers thrive. They're further enabled by bystanders too fearful to speak up.
Though we live in a culture that likes to blame the victim rather than hold perpetrators accountable, targets of workplace abuse aren't the problem: it's the abusers who lack empathy who are allowed to abuse.
Take Your Dignity Back
If you feel like you’re stuck in a big rut that’s destroying your life, learn how to reverse the damage.
Right now, you wish you could just tell your bully at work to knock it off, report the problem to management, and show the bully how childish he or she’s behaving. At best, the bully’s sidetracking the goals of the...
Some say that how you respond to an abuser from the first sign of abusive behavior might thwart off the behavior. But what happens when it takes time to detect the abusive behavior? Is the “grow a thick skin” mentality even logical based on what’s worked with targets of workplace abuse?
In a 2012 CareerBuilder study, nearly 50 percent of respondents DID have a thick skin and confronted the bully. "Of those who confronted the bully, half (50 percent) said the bullying stopped while 11 percent said it got worse, and 38 percent said the bullying didn’t change at all," reports CareerBuilder.
The conclusion is that growing a thick skin has no bearing on the abuse since abusers don’t generally stop when faced with resistance from their targets. So for those of you who assert that we don’t need a law because standing up to abusers will end it: you fall within a 50 percent group that confronting bullies worked for. For the...
When I first started working at a call center, I was really proud. I got good passing rates in my training and was told the business liked promoting from within, so it was exciting.
But I got put into the team with the fastest call times, and the team leader had no time for a newbie who was slowing down the team. The team leader seemed angry if I asked her for advice on a customer.
The team met up for drinks on Fridays. I was always left out of the invite.
If I ever went to the restroom during non-scheduled breaks, the team leader would post the team’s restroom times in a group email. The restroom was on the other side of the building floor, so it took a few minutes to get there and back. When I didn’t use the restroom that week unless on break, the emails would stop, even though I noticed others went without times posted. Then if I had to go to the restroom on work time, I’d run since I knew the email was coming with my name on the top of the list, within five...
On Facebook, we’ve seen some people who’ve never been abused at work (or more likely who are abusers themselves or aren’t vulnerable and emotionally tough enough to admit they’ve been abused) tell targets of workplace abuse to “just leave” their jobs if they don’t like them.
I ask those people: if you were to “just leave” your job today, what would be the consequences? For many, it's loss of income and the health insurance that goes with it.
For others, it's about damaging personal pride, the injustice of it all, and loving their jobs. That awareness, level of integrity, and self-defense are motivated by strength, not weakness, and a building block for a social movement to end workplace abuse.
“Just quitting” versus find another job
You might think this idea of sticking around is in direct opposition to my usual advice to targets of workplace abuse: leave since your health comes first and...
“Narcissists love to get your reaction. And as soon as they do, you are handing power away,” says narcissistic abuse expert Melanie Tonia Evans in her article 5 Steps To Ignoring A Narcissist Who Tries To Punish You.
The solution, she says, is totally ignoring them — giving them no energy and no response.
Here’s why: the narcissist has insecurities so intense that he or she creates an image “to be a buffer between the narcissist and his or her inner wounds,” says Evans. “This entity, known as Ego (False Self), is running the narcissist’s emotions and life and feeds from pain.” So when you injure his or her False Self by standing in your power and triggering his or her insecurities, you become the object of the narcissist’s wounds.
The False Self feeds off pain, while the True Self (even if it’s still imprisoned by internal trauma) feeds off love, authenticity, and truth. “Because the narcissist is...
My name is Rebecca Dupras (@redupras). I am a resident of Rhode Island and I currently practice law here. I recently spoke on the passage of the Healthy Workplace Act. Though my experience did not take place in Rhode Island, these types of incidents are happening everywhere in our country. My experience occurred while working for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in California and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and is well documented in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The New York Times, and Forbes Magazine.
During my time as a Vice President of Development at this charitable foundation, where I managed a team of 10-15 people, I was subjected to consistent harassment, manipulation, and threats by my supervisor. She worked at the organization for over a decade, and I was not her only victim. She would threaten violence towards coworkers, humiliate and embarrass me and others during meetings and in front of other staff, say sexually explicit things, and...
A few years into my advocacy for workplace abuse legislation, I co-led a small business. I quickly realized that knowing what not to do didn’t necessarily translate well into what to do. What were best practices for bringing out the best in employees? How could I work to help workers feel fulfilled and strong? What did I need to gain self-awareness of to prevent a toxic culture? These questions led me to dive into what it took to create a healthy workplace.
The toxic culture
In his book The Bully’s Trap, Andrew Faas dissects the cultures that lead to abuse in the first place. He says that in toxic cultures, employers see employees as expendable. When employers consider workers a means to an end rather than associates, that’s exploitation. Here are some key factors in a toxic culture:
I relocated my family to Western Massaschusetts to start a new life. I decided to go for CNA training and was hired immediately at a state facility as a 3-11 nurse’s aid.
I am a quiet, keep-to-myself type of person, and for the first seven years had no issues. One afternoon, two coworkers working in my unit got into a verbal altercation just as the PTs returned to the unit after dinner. The two coworkers were quite loud, and another woman and I helped get the PTs back to their rooms so they were not exposed to the yelling. I truly was not paying attention to the altercation — that’s not my job.
A little later, the 3-11 supervisor approached me and asked me what happened. I explained that I wasn’t paying attention to them and that my concern was for the PTs. She took me to the activities room and dictated to me what to write in a statement then left, locking the door behind her. I grew up with words of wisdom from my mom to never do anything immoral or illegal...
I work as a project coordinator in Boston.
The bullying begin after I moved to a different department. I wasn’t getting trained or work to do after moving to the new area. I would ask the project managers and director if there was anything I could help with. They’d say no but would give work to the other project coordinator. I expressed my concern of not getting work to do. Then my cubemate started turning the radio up loud, someone took my cell phone off my desk, and someone opened my desk drawer. Someone also broke the lock to my file cabinet and took things out of it.
The co-worker sent an email stating that I needed to sign in and out because he didn’t know where I was when I’d be to lunch or a meeting or after I supported our new assistant general manager at an event.
I asked myself: why would my group not want to work together?
Problems escalated when I went to Employee Relations. They were upset that I didn’t just let it go and let them continue...
In July of 2012, I was hired as a 4th-Grade Teacher for the 2012-2013 school year in a Massachusetts school district. It was my first public school teaching job. The school was located in a low-income neighborhood and was a “Level 3” school due to poor performance on MCAS. None of this worried me because this was the exact type of setting I had done many of my practica and student teaching in during my college years. During the required pre-employment physical, I was honest about my diagnoses of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, explaining that I’d been stable for the last six years thanks to therapy and medication. At the orientation for new teachers the week before school started, I met the New Teacher Liaison, who expressed her excitement to have someone as passionate about the job as I was. The school’s Literacy Coach, “Sheila,” echoed these sentiments. I was assigned a mentor at my school, an ESL Teacher named...
Subscribe to our blog to learn more about
how workplace bullying works and how to deal with it.