Are You Being Bullied at Work? 12 Telltale Signs and What to Do About It

For a striking number of Americans, bullying has moved beyond the walls of the schoolyard to the top rungs of the corporate ladder. Although concrete numbers are scarce, it’s estimated that one in six workers is a victim of workplace bullying — more than the number of those affected by sexual harassment or racial discrimination. And worldwide, bullying in the workplace has reached epidemic levels in some countries, according to the International Labor Organization.

Although anyone can become a victim, in the United States 80 percent of the time the person being bullied is a woman, according to an online survey by The Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute (WBTI).

Contrary to what many believe, those who are bullied at work are not vulnerable, weak or thin-skinned. Instead, people who are targeted are usually the ones that others perceive as tough competition: go-getters, those who do well at their jobs, are personable, well-liked and competent.

As for the bullies, “It’s about control. It’s what all bullies want: control,” says Gary Namie, Ph.D., founder of the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying. “Despite the mask of bravado, they are tiny, insecure people.”

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