Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

Hobbies are Good for You: How to Find One That Fits Your Personality You’re Paid to Work, Not to Endure Verbal Abuse. Don’t Be Intimidated How to Make People Read Your Emails (and Letters) and Reply Every Time How To Get Rid Of Oily Skin: 10 Effective DIY Facial Mask Ideas How to Negotiate Skilfully to Get What You Want All the Time

Trending in Psychology

1 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 2 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 3 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 4 How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful 5 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

Advertising

Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

Advertising

You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

Advertising

To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

Advertising

But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

Read Next