Effects Workplace Bullying

Effects Workplace Bullying

Effects workplace bullying

                                                                  Effects Workplace Bullying

 

This is a story I have wanted to tell for quite some time but did not have the courage until now. I used to think that bullying only happened on the playground until I experienced workplace bullying as an adult. I will not divulge when or where my incident happened but I wanted to share my story in hopes that it helps someone else. I would like everyone who reads this blog to know that telling my story brings back a lot of painful memories. It took me a long time to get over the effects workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying involves acts or verbal comments that can mentally hurt or isolate you in the workplace. It often involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is meant to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate you. My counsellor described it as the assertion of power through aggression because the bully feels threatened by you. Bullies often lack confidence and feel jealous of your ideas or talent. It can also include work interference or sabotage which prevents you from getting your work done.

 

I didn’t mind my new job at first. The people I worked with were nice enough. It wasn’t an overly warm work environment but it was a full-time permanent position with decent benefits during a time when the Canadian economy wasn’t the greatest. I kept telling myself I should be grateful that I have a job. I was also making a difference in some small way. Sadly, two years after I started my new position one of my co-workers died and his position was taken over by someone else.

I never really had much involvement with the person who took over for my co-worker, accept passing her in the hallways from time to time or seeing her at meetings. She never bothered to say hi to me or even acknowledge my existence until we started working together.

 

At first I didn’t think much about the bullying incidences, thinking maybe they would go away or stop. Maybe that was naive of me. I thought if I was just nicer to her, more compliant and/or went beyond what was asked of me things would get better. But they never did. I saw how she treated other co-workers. I couldn’t understand what I did that caused her to dislike me so much. Over time, the effects workplace bullying started to affect my health.

I was a teacher working in academia. You are often required to co-teach a course with one of your colleagues. This means you have to work closely with this individual for long periods of time. I have worked with people I have disliked before but never experienced workplace bullying until a few years ago. It is not an easy thing to talk about. There is a lot of stigma attached to it. People will often try to down play what happened to you. “Are you sure you aren’t reading too much into it?” “Maybe you misinterpreted what she meant.” “What did she sound like?”

 

I knew what was happening to me was bullying. She would make rude comments to my face in front of other coworkers. She tried to humiliate me in public places with other people around. She often made threats. She would critique everything that I did. She was very controlling. She would send demeaning emails. She purposely left me out of meetings then blamed me if something went wrong or didn’t get done. She criticized me to fellow colleagues.

After a few months, I couldn’t take it anymore. I reported the incidences to my manager who ended up doing nothing. I started to take alternate paths to my office to avoid running into her. I would ignore her emails. I would hide in my office. I dreaded going to work. I developed insomnia. I was tired all the time from being so stressed out. I thought just one more month and the class will be over and we won’t have to work closely with each other anymore. Then the worst thing imaginable happened, I was forced to work with her again the following semester.

 

My health was being severely affected. I had night sweats. I couldn’t sleep. My adrenal glands were shot. I could barely function. To make things worse, I was told she was going to permanently take over the one class so we would be forced to work together year after year.

 

Effects Workplace Bullying

                                                                  Effects Workplace Bullying

 

I eventually went to my union where there was an investigation. The outcome was expected. My bully was now someone in an authoritative position. The investigation was tainted. Nobody outside the college or department was brought in to conduct the investigation. Not one of my witnesses were questioned. It was very suspect, one-sided and incomplete. I was told they found no evidence of bullying from their investigation. Really??? Yet it was suggested my bully and I not work together for a year so our relationship could heal. I was also told they would talk to my bully about how her actions/comments can be misinterpreted by other people.

What made matters worse was I tried to protect myself by tape recording one of the incidences. I ended up being reprimanded for it even though it isn’t against the law. It is amazing how your life can be turned upside down in a year. I ended up going on short-term disability, selling my house, leaving my job and moving without having another full-time job lined up. I took a big gamble. However, I knew if I stayed the situation would eventually kill me. I was becoming a shell of the person I used to be.

 

Effects Workplace Bullying

                                                                                                                         Effects Workplace Bullying

 

After my incident, I wanted to learn more about workplace bullying so I started looking into Canadian laws, statistics and other bullying cases. I began to understand and realize why so many people end up quitting their jobs and never report their incident. For example, in my previous workplace less than 5% of bullying and harassment cases are ever won.

According to a 2012 workplace bullying survey of 552 full-time employed Canadians found the following:

  • 45% of the full-time employees said they were bullied
  • Only 1/3 of the employees reported the incidence to HR
  • 1/3 stated it caused them health issues
  • 26% quit their jobs to stop the bullying

 

Sadly, the laws for bullying and harassment are weak. The bully almost has to admit to their actions before anything can be done and/or need witnesses and/or video/tape record the incidences. If your workplace has unions like mine did, you may find yourself in the same situation I did. Unfortunately, the laws did not protect or help me. I even had witnesses and recorded one of the incidences.

It has been almost one year since I left that toxic work environment. It hasn’t been easy but things are looking up!!! I started working in NWM for an amazing certified organic company. They are so supportive. I have learned a lot over the last couple months. They are doing everything they can to help me succeed quickly. I have become a blogger!! I have the support of my friends and family.

 

I am starting to feel like me again. I no longer have insomnia or night sweats. I am no longer tired all the time. I am working for myself now.

I am hoping my story helps someone else find the courage to take action and fight back or leave their current situation. Most people do not realize the long-term effects workplace bullying can have such as PTSD. I want you to know that life gets better. You can choose to work for yourself. Talk to someone. I could not have gotten through my ordeal without the help of my counsellor. Check to see what kind of laws exist in your area. Check to see if there is a bullying or harassment prevention system set up in your workplace. Document everything.

 

I do not feel any hatred towards my bully. I believe that karma will take care of her. I hope by standing up to her and leaving she will feel bad for what she has done.

I survived the effects workplace bullying.

With love,

Susan Rever

 

 

 

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Susan Rever (The Organictarian)

Susan Rever enjoys using her education/knowledge and experience to help other people become healthier from the inside out, and live a happier lifestyle. She has a MSc in Biology, BSc in Botany, horticulturist, online business/lifestyle entrepreneur, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (2018), environmentalist/nature lover, health coach, blogger, and academic. She has taught in academia for over 15 years, worked for both the federal and provincial governments in Canada as a biologist/ecologist, and the creator of ahealthfullifestyle.com.
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8 thoughts on “Effects Workplace Bullying

  • I’m so sorry for what happened to you Susan. I was very surprised because of how beautiful you are and what an amazing woman you are! But I know bullying also happens to the sweetest people. Its so sad that some people think they have a right to hurt others. Its even worse that nothing is done about it. I know bullying is the cause of a lot of suicides and broken families and lives. I’m so happy you left that place and are feeling happy again and you’re blossoming. Its such an honor to know you and have you in my life! You have such a magnificent, beautiful soul!! I wish you all the blessings, love and happiness in the world and that you only meet the kindest of people who will love you and cherish you always. You make the world a more beautiful place to live in. <3

    • Thank you so much Eliane!!! That means a lot 🙂 I am really glad I found Miessence. Our team is so supportive. Everyone is so nice 🙂 I feel hopeful again. Life truly does get better!!! Sadly workplace bullying is on the rise. It makes you feel so isolated. Everyone deserves to work in a non-threatening work environment.

  • Great post on workplace bullying Susan! I’m sorry you had to go through all that. As you said, people like that, don’t feel good about themselves and for some reason feel threatened by you. Sometimes the best thing to do, is just leave that toxic environment for your own well-being. Kudos to you for making your voice known about her poor behavior! You have so much to contribute to others! I’m glad to see you sharing your knowledge and experience to help others!
    Blessings to you! 😊❤️

    • Thank you Susan!!! I feel sorry for anyone that has been through it. It isn’t always easy for someone to be able to leave their job especially in today’s economy. I just want people to know they are not alone. There are support groups. It is easier then ever to start your own online business or become a realtor or change careers or do something else. It just takes courage and a leap of faith. I knew my health depended on me getting out of that situation. I really hope the harassment and bullying laws improve someday. Cheers, Susan

  • Hi Susan! I am so sorry that happened to you. And maybe after reading your story, I can find the courage to leave my hostile work environment where I have been bullied for 6 years now. I have a good job that I have been at for 14 years. Good wages, health insurance and close to home but I can’t take it anymore. I am 61 years old and that makes it even scarier. Thank you so much for the encouragement.
    Take care,
    Nancy

    • I am so sorry Nancy. My heart goes out to you. I have heard from several women who have also experienced workplace bullying. It is sad that this happens and our laws do not really protect us. I hope you find the courage to leave. Susan

  • Hi Susan.
    What you shared was brave and was definitely workplace bullying. Organizations often respond as yours did and have few tools to address it. I’ve held two conferences here in Regina on workplace bullying over the past five years to help educate and inform. These were focused on educating organizational leaders on how to identify it and what to do. In my work as a coach and counsellor, I encountered this type of behaviour and how it has unfortunately impacted a lot of people. Your story and your honesty will help many!

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