Workplace Bullying and Stress

BullyA few years ago I was bullied by a co-worker. Whenever I said anything in a group, she would immediately rebut me. This went on for several months and then she asked me to be a guest speaker to discuss integrative healing in her health science course. I thought maybe she had finally accepted me as a colleague and things would run smoother. But when she introduced me as a holistic nurse she said, “Sometimes I don’t think Glenda is a real nurse.” Yeah, she said that right in front of a classroom full of college students. I was so very tempted to walk out at that point, but felt I owed it to the students to  stay. Things got worse and I contemplated quitting my job. I sought the advice of an expert on critical conversations and he advised against confrontation because she had more power than I and it would most likely make things worse. He suggested I talk to our manager about it. I decided to try an unusual approach. Every time I saw the bully in the hallway, I imagined her surrounded by white light and I sent her unconditional love and light. Whenever I thought about her I replaced negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The  reduced my stress significantly. But the real miracle was that within just a few days, the bullying stopped. I attribute it to the love and light that I sent to her, causing a change in me that made me a less attractive target. Meanwhile, several other employees lodged a formal complaint and the bully resigned.

Bullying is a major cause of stress in the workplace and contributes to absenteeism and turnover. About 40% of working adults have experienced bullying or witnessed it. Bullying is such a problem in nursing that the American Nurses Association has published a book about bullying, calling for a culture change.

If you are being bullied at work, or anywhere else, I urge you to seek help. The extreme stress caused by bullies is a threat to your health and wellness. There are many options for dealing with bullies, and not everyone agrees on the right approach, so it will take some thoughtful planning before you act. When talking to the bully, and when talking to others about the bullying behavior, remain calm and talk about the facts. Describe the behavior unemotionally. And remember, you are not alone.





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