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Water Cooler Cruelty

Filed Under: Mental Wellbeing at 8:40 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Distress at WorkYou thought the days of lunchtime anxiety, teasing and pranks ended with the close of fifth grade, or if we’re honest, high school. You assumed that as an adult you wouldn’t face the same petty, childish behavior so many teens and children exhibit throughout their youth. And then you got to work. No one would have lunch with you. Catty remarks were whispered behind your back. Vital information was withheld. And rarely warranted criticism filled your days – your inbox, your voicemail, your conversations. You, a thirty-year-old professional, were being bullied, just like so many others are.

An estimated two in five workers have been bullied at work. Unfortunately, not much is done about it. Bullying is in the same position sexual harassment once was: undefined, unmentioned and occasionally encouraged. But that doesn’t make it any less detrimental than the more obvious office faux pas. Regularly bullied employees have increased job stress, higher levels of anxiety and anger, more job dissatisfaction, a lesser sense of wellbeing, and a higher tendency to quit. They are stuck for 40 hours a week in an environment that is destroying their mental health, bit by bit.

If you are one of these employees, you need to take action. Determine what’s actually going on, document instances of bullying and then, figure out how you can fix it. Talking to your boss – although akin to telling Mom that Bobby took your lunch money – may be the best approach. Find support be it from fellow employees or outside individuals such as family and friends. Don’t ignore jibes, shuns or open hostility. That won’t help you. You need to conquer this so that you can create a life that is, both at home and at work, an image of wellness.

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