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You’re Paid to Work, Not to Endure Verbal Abuse. Don’t Be Intimidated

You’re Paid to Work, Not to Endure Verbal Abuse. Don’t Be Intimidated

As adults, most of us don’t have to deal with the same kind of bullying and verbal abuse we might have faced as kids, but this kind of abuse does happen in the workplace fairly regularly.

A 2014 survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute [1]found that 27 percent of all American workers are being bullied at work or have been in the past, and 21 percent have witnessed episodes of verbal abuse against co-workers.

In all, more than 65 million Americans have been affected by bullying at work.

What Defines Verbal Abuse at Work?

Verbal abuse is one part of workplace bullying, which can also include sabotaging a person’s work to prevent them from doing what they are supposed to be doing at work. Taking just the verbal piece, abuse is defined as language that is intimidating, threatening or humiliating.

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It may or may not include yelling, cursing, insulting or mocking the victim. This abuse may be tied to sexual harassment or not.

How Do You Know You’re Being Verbally Abused?

One reason it can be difficult to pin down what is abusive behavior — and to get the bully punished — is because people with different personalities have different levels of tolerance for teasing, gossip or sexual jokes. One person might be OK with it while another dreads coming to work and is ready to quit over the same situation.

There is clearly a difference between blowing off steam and complaining about work or your co-workers and being abusing to the point of harassment. But the difference can sometimes be hard to pin down.

You might begin to call the behavior verbal abuse when it regularly affects your attitude and performance [2]at work. If you are dreading work and obsessing about what might happen there in your off hours, that can be a sign. Other changes like higher blood pressure when around the abuser, feelings of shame or guilt or not wanting to do things you once enjoyed can all be effects of abuse in the workplace.

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Why Do People Abuse Others in the Workplace?

If there’s such a thing as an average abuser, most are men in positions of power above the person they are abusing. Fifty-six percent of the bullies in the Workplace Bullying Institute survey had authority over their victims, and 69 percent were men (60 percent of targets were female).

An abuser often has a group of friends [3] who may egg him or her on or who serve as witnesses to the abuse. These people will often laugh and try to make the abused person feel like the verbal abuse was all a joke that they shouldn’t be so sensitive about. But sometimes abusers will wait until they are alone with their victim so there is no proof of the abuse.

Either way, as with a lot of bullying outside the workplace, this verbal abuse is often related to the abuser wanting to feel more powerful and in control. They’ll abuse people they feel are weak in some way and use that person to make them feel better when they are under stress or in other situations when they feel the need to control someone.

Why is it Important to Understand Workplace Abuse?

Even if it’s not happening to you right now, it’s important to understand workplace abuse and what can be done about it so that you can support other people who might be in that situation or know what to do if it happens to you.

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The most important thing to know is that there is no law against bullying or verbal abuse in the workplace in the United States. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence.

Bullying can and often does rise to the level of harassment or creating a hostile work environment, which can be documented and presented as a formal complaint to a superior or to human resources.

How to Deal with Verbal Abuse at Work

The main thing you need to understand first is that the verbal abuse and bullying you are experiencing is not your fault. It’s not because you’re bad at your job and usually doesn’t have much to do with you at all.

Second, recognize that what is happening to you is not normal, and it is abuse. Don’t say “oh, she’s just having a bad day” or “he has a bad temper” to excuse the behavior.

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Begin by trying to talk to the abusive person about their behavior. Tell them you don’t like it when they talk that way and you feel they are being abusive. They may laugh it off, or they may take you seriously.

Some people secretly tape their abuser and play the tape back to them to show them their behavior, which they might not even fully realize they are doing.

Check your employee handbook for next steps. While there’s no state or federal law against bullying, your company may have respectful workplace policies in place or a procedure for dealing with harassment.

Document what’s been happening if you can so it doesn’t become a he said, she said battle.

But be aware of the possibility that you won’t be believed or supported by people who should be on your side. The company may feel the superior is more important and try to protect them even when they are in the wrong. Sometimes the only answer to verbal abuse in the workplace, unfortunately, is finding a new job or transferring away from that person.

Also consider getting help in the form of therapy, talking to a trusted friend or seeking out stories of people who have survived workplace abuse. It always helps to know that you are not alone.

Reference

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Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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