Guest Post: Workplace bullying – The silent epidemic and the long term psychological damage. by Sudhir Suvarna

As the number of you, my followers increases, the more I get to read your posts and I am enjoying the diversity of the topics you all choose to write about so passionately. Kudos! Sudhir happened to mention in one of his comments in MiddleMe about a similar post he has in common with mine and I really enjoyed his insightful article so much so I wished to share his words with all of you, the important message that all of us should take note of. I do hope you enjoy the below article and if you do, please feel free to leave comments below or go to his website for more!


On 14 July 2009, a 52-year-old employee of a telecoms company in Europe killed himself, leaving behind a note blaming “overwork” and “management by terror”. He wrote in his suicide note: “I am committing suicide because of my work. That’s the only reason.”

There are people who choose to end their life, not because they were weak, but because they identify their self-worth with how they are perceived and treated at work and they could not not take the public humiliation

Workplace bullying has been around for a long time. But nobody could pin point what it was. It was considered an acceptable style of  management which was never challenged for the fear of losing the job.

What exactly is workplace bullying and why is there is so much media attention in recent times ?

Workplace bullying is a repeated event of harassment, intimidation, ridicule, belittling in an attempt to get rid of the target from the workplace. Bullying always existed in corporate life. It is getting increasing media attention as more people have shared their experience on many platforms. The health harming long term effects of bullying is being researched and understood only in the recent few years. Bullying causes psychological damage and symptoms are not visible hence often goes unnoticed.

The profile of the bully: The bully is often a supervisor who lacks any soft skills and only knows to manage people by threat and humiliation. They often have a good rapport with senior management and the go to person to deliver projects in ambitious timescales and often considered as someone who kicks butt to get their job done.

Both men and women are known to be bullies. Often, men bully men and women bully women.

The profile of the target who is being bullied:  A bullied target is usually a very hard working, self-starter individual who puts his/her head down and does the job and is usually popular and has a good track record.

The target usually is a very quiet person who does not engage in office politics or brown nosing.

How does the target get bullied ?

The target is often confused why s/he is being reported as under-performance as they seem to be doing a good job. The target is told s/he lacks certain skills and her performance will be monitored closely. An e.g. ‘You don’t have business knowledge.’ ‘XYZ gave negative feedback about you.’ – which is often not true.

This leads to a series of micro-managing, excessive supervision, constant nit-picking, public humiliation which goes on until the target feels stressed and starts losing interest in his/her job.

The bully also setups by hiding information for the target to perform his job, does not involve the target in important meetings and discussions related to the project.

The bully also reports to management about target’s under-performance and blames the target for trivial issues and something the target is not in control of.

The bully then uses intimidation tactics to get the target to accept his/her short comings.

Why targets do not take any action against bullying ?

The target then starts to believe it was his/her fault and s/he needs to improve her performance. The target suffers from low self-esteem and confidence. His/her health starts deteriorating, has sleepless nights, loses concentration and focus and which affects her/his ability to do the job efficiently.

The target also gets isolated from work colleagues and left with no one to share his/her concerns about what is happening to them.

Why is bullying not the same as tough management ?

Competent managers will never resort to bullying. S/he knows when to draw the line between management and bullying. The bully is usually someone who hides his/her own insecurity by bullying the target.

How does workplace bullying affect their targets health ?

Many targets do not even realize that they were bullied. Bullying takes a severe toll on mental health of the target.

This happens for the first time victims. Self doubt and low confidence affects their ability to look out for another job. The target then lives with guilt and shame for a long time.

S/he cuts off socially from people and show distrust in people. Family life suffers. Family members notice the change in personality and they can’t figure out what went wrong with their loved ones.

People who are bullied for a long term suffer chronic depression, complex P.T.S.D. and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. When a worker suffers from P.T.S.D., the workplace becomes a war zone.

The target also feels guilty for allowing the bullying to control them. However, while it happened there was nothing much they could have done about it.

Workplace bullying is rampant in Information Technology too

One would make the assumption that in knowledge industry such cases of bullying should be rare. However, bullying is rampant. Constant pressure to deliver in ambitious timescales. Lack of information, training to do the job. Lack of appreciation. Often blamed in public for minor errors. I.T. workers also get reported for under performance for no fault of theirs.

Why did I write this article ? 

I don’t want anyone in the world to go through the experience that I have. I am advocating healthy workplace for the future and willing to join the efforts of institutes like Workplace Bullying Institute to eradicate bullying from workplace.

People who work for business entities have their right for respect and dignity. A workplace is a place to work as the name suggests and not a war zone.

I would like to see a safe and healthy workplace and is on top of my agenda once I launch my start up.

If you think you have been bullied at work and would like to seek advice how to handle the situation, feel free to contact me.

What is being done about workplace bullying globally ?

I will update this post soon.


So if you have wrote any articles that you think should highlight to me (I always read all my followers’ articles), please drop me a comment below.

Meanwhile, have a Wacky Weekend!

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43 comments

  1. Kally, you ARE awesome, no doubt about it in my opinion.
    I was a victim of bullying in school. It started in kindergarden and continued on all the way until I graduated from high school. It is a terrible thing to have to go through. t affects your mental and physical health, as well as giving you low self esteem ad makes you afraid to meet people and for meat least, it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for anything.
    The only place that I was happy when I was a teenager was away from people and alone in my room. This was in the days before the internet so I was always alone reading, Nirvana for me.
    My family and the schools were of no help to me at all, so I had to deal with it myself, alone with no moral support. My parents told me to “be a man and suck it up.” Hardly worthy advice.
    When history repeated itself with my son, I told the schools that if they didn’t nip this at the bud I was going to take legal action plus I was going to rent a bulletin board along the highway advertising the fact that the schools support bullies. Needles to say, they helped my son.
    You have to end it at the beginning or things will truly get worse.

    Liked by 4 people

    • What a great father you are to your son! This post is not written by me but by Sudhir. I’ll thank you on his behalf. Do check out his website if you like what he wrote. Many parents nowadays turned a blind eye to bullying and brush it off saying that that’s just kids play. What they don’t know is that the impact and consequences are for life.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hello Kally and what an article! You are correct on this point: “It was considered an acceptable style of management which was never challenged for the fear of losing the job” There were courses at one time, most likely still around, that taught some good points, but also bad ways of managing people.
    This article of yours will help inform people of the unkind techniques used by workplace bullies. -Well Done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So true..and its so common these days…people are constantly getting depressed about where they work but because bills are waiting to be payed, they will not quit. I wrote a little something on bullying buy it wasn’t a highlight, just a pointer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The bully is often a supervisor who lacks any soft skills and only knows to manage people by threat and humiliation.” A sentence I find to be very interesting, a description that could very easily be interpreted as referring to the government. “…and only knows to manage people by threat and humiliation.” Sure smacks opf congress and the “white” house and, I might point out, is vastly more intimidating than any work place threat and humiliation.

    Work place humiliation and threats and intimidation is an issue that can be resolved through discussion, company meetings and going to the boss in an attempt to work things out. My personal favorite, when all else fails, walk around with a baseball bat and exercise your rights by responding to threats of violence with threats of retaliation.

    I consider these kinds of problems to be minor in light of the greater threat from Washington, DC. Work place violence or threats of violence and intimidation are the least of our worries. If we don’t soon wake up to what is happening in this government and what they are planning for us, there very soon will be no work place problems to concern us. There will hardly be any work places for us to work. Focus your attention on things that threaten our very lives. Call me a “conspiracy nut” if you desire. I’ve been called worse.

    Ask yourselves this question: why is it that work place stresses and intimidation and harassment and threats are on the rise? Too, are they in fact on the rise, or is it something we’re being told is an issue when, in fact, it well may not be the case? As an example, we are told that gun violence is on the rise when, in fact, it is not. Why are we being told this? What purpose does it serve and, more importantly, who stands to benefit from such fabrications?

    Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have asked a great deal of thought provoking questions. Everyone has a different outlook and angle on an issue. You just add on a different insight to this. I’m glad that you have taken time to express your thoughts and wrote such a long comment too! A heartfelt comment, indeed. What Sudhir has shared with us is a problem not existing merely in the States but globally. I have first hand experienced or seen workplace bullying in Singapore, Malaysia and China and I have heard terrible heartbreaking workplace bullying stories from victims who have no where and no one to turn to but chose to either resign or to continue to endure the best they could. What Sudhir is trying to do is to create awareness and hopefully, like myself help to motivate a better working environment for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You have seen these problems globally because the people behind this are working globally. They are intent on a one world government, a one world currency, a one world religion, and they are working steadfastly toward reducing the world population to 500 million people. It is much easier to control 500 million people than 7 billion. But who am I? I’m just a conspiracy nut, not to be taken seriously. And that is exactly as it should be. Don’t believe me. Do your own due diligence. Why not begin at a google of the Georgia Guidestones. An excellent place to start…

        Bill

        Like

  5. This is excellent. Thank you for sharing! I think so often of the effects of domestic abuse that I haven’t thought too much about abuse at the workplace. This is definitely something that needs to be said. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was bullied while in school and this affected me as I was a quiet and gentle boy. But it took a self determined effort to break away from the restraining effect it had on me. Right now, I am free and not afraid to face anyone

    Liked by 1 person

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