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How to Handle Adult Bullying

How to Handle Adult Bullying

You may think that bullying is perpetrated by nasty kids or mean teenagers. But in 2013, it happened among teammates in the NFL. Miami Dolphin second-year player Jonathan Martin accused veteran Richie Incognito of mercilessly harassing him. A subsequent investigation concurred and the lead lawyer Ted Wells, called Martin’s treatment “a classic case of bullying, where persons who are in a position of power harass the less powerful.”

Workplace bullying is commonplace: North Dakota State University professor Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Ph.D., says in her book Adult Bullying: A Nasty Piece of Work, “that bullying is experienced by 97 percent of nurse managers; 60 percent of retail industry workers; 53 percent of business school students.” And the Workplace Bullying Institute says overall 27 percent of Americans have experienced abusive conduct at work.

Signs of workplace bullying include getting no feedback on your performance; being yelled at or put down in front of others; having your work sabotaged or ignored; being given a heavier workload or shorter deadlines than others. Unfortunately, you probably can’t avoid interacting with your abuser (it’s usually a boss). And relentless bullying can lead to health issues like PTSD, digestive woes, headaches and depression. So, what can you do?

  • Document all incidents in detail. 
  • Go to HR and lodge a formal complaint. Contact an employment lawyer if you need a complaint letter written.
  • Remember, requesting a transfer or finding another job is “NOT a defeat!” says Lutgen-Sandvik. The company’s loss of YOU is a sign of the company’s failure.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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