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Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

The pain is more than you can imagine – Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace 

By Anna Baranowsky, PH.D., C.Psych. (September, 2018)


The childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is far from the truth when it comes to bullying and harassment in the workplace. It is the unrelenting nature of bullying that diminishes and demoralizes those targeted over time. Victims start to feel that there is no escape – no way out. In fact, the dire sense of isolation, rejection, humiliation and fear leaves the victim in a state of distress that can lead to extreme outcomes of severe depression and at times, suicidality. It is no small feat to recover from the worst of these circumstances.

If you think that bullying only occurs on the playground, then it is time to rethink the magnitude of the problem.

In the WorkSafe BC pamphlet, Reid (2014) defined workplace bullying as “any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably should have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.” Silverman (2013), defined bullying as a “systematic aggression and violence targeted towards one or more individuals by one individual or by a group.”

Are you a teacher targeted in a social media attack? Maybe you are a military member awaiting medical discharge and remain vulnerable to bullying by peers or superior officers. Have you tried your best to get along with other employees at your office only to find that the office bully has sought you out repeatedly undermining your role, humiliating and embarrassing you in front of co-workers? Maybe you are working in a factory and you are struggling with ongoing aggressive “pranks” which are leaving you feeling on edge and unsettled? Whatever your circumstance is the very real impact of bullying is likely leaving you feeling at risk and vulnerable for future attacks.

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