Did you know this week is Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week?
Don't worry. I didn't know it was either until I saw a post for it today on Facebook - you know, the best source of news out there.
There's a lot of talk these days about bullies - in school, on the bus, on the playground. Bullies are everywhere it seems. Even in the workplace.
Yep, that's rights. Adults can be bullies. And adults can be the target of bullies. It happens every single day in workplaces all around the country. In fact, 54 million Americans have been bullied in the workplace.
I would know.
I was one of them.
I wrote about my experiences here.
I wrote about quitting my job here.
I wrote a little more about the bullies here.
I wrote about the day I quit here.
And I wrote about NOT letting the bullies win here.
The thing is, I'm still not "over" being the target of a workplace bully. I don't know if it's something one truly ever gets over. I haven't gained back all my confidence that was systematically stripped away during six months of bullying. I still second guess myself when it comes to my current job. I wait for those bullying emails to show up in my inbox. I wonder if people really like me, or if they're just saying they do to be "polite."
Workplace bullying IS a source of shame for those of us who have experienced it. That's part of the "power" bullies have over their targets. Bullies shame us into thinking that no one cares and no one will listen. Targets don't think anyone will believe them. The targets (I will not call myself a victim) feel as if they have nowhere to turn. They don't feel that they can trust HR to do anything (especially in my case, when the person bullying me was second in command at the organization). Coworkers might want to help but they often stay silent out of fear that they'll be the next target.
And, as a target of a workplace bully you feel weak. And worthless. You cry in your office behind closed doors. You feel sick when you walk through the front doors. And you feel relief when you go home at night, only to dread waking up the next day. And you think it's best if you just remain silent and hide in your office. I tried to do that - I avoided my coworkers as much as possible because I thought it was best to keep quiet.
Workplace bullies aren't just "bad bosses" - it goes way beyond that.
Workplace bullying doesn't just happen one time.
It's repeated over and over again until the target is fired or quits.
Workplace bullying is verbal and non-verbal. It's intimidation and threats and humiliation.
Bullying in the workplace is real.
And it's horrible.
And it will change a person's life forever.
And it needs to stop.
So I am asking all of you - whether you've been bullied or have witnessed someone get bullied at work - speak up. Stand up for your coworker. Stand up for yourself. Say "enough is ENOUGH!" If we stand together, we can end workplace bullying.
(For more information on workplace bullying, watch this video http://youtu.be/hUVAinx8mno. And if you or someone you know is being bullied at work, please visit: http://www.workplacebullying.org)