If you think bullying is something that only happens on a playground and among kids, think again. From bosses who bully, to neighbors who bully, bullying can continue way beyond the playground years, and sadly, experts say adult bullying is on the rise. Recently, a popular television news anchor made national headlines after a viewer bullied her over her weight! And singer Adele was reportedly cyber bullied after the birth of her son. While adults are more likely to engage in verbal bullying over physical bullying, the fact of the matter is, adult bullying exists, big time.
To talk about adult bullying, how to identify it, handle it, and stop it, national anti-bullying speaker and psychologist, Dr. Joel Haber stopped by “The Shine”.
[Related: The Kind Of Bullying We Don’t Talk About]
How does one identify a bully? Dr. Haber says “If you find yourself being excluded, marginalized in some way, or made to feel less than a person that you shouldn’t have to feel less than, you wonder what’s going on there." Statistics reveal that 41% of adult bullying occurs in the workplace, so how do you identify bullying from harassment? Bullying is when one person uses their power to go after another, but harassment, as Dr. Haber points out, is actually a legal term which usually refers to sexual misconduct or a work practice that feels in some way unsafe or is hostile. To that end, we wondered what steps a person can take to stop a bully before taking any legal action or seeking the HR department. Dr. Haber says the first thing is that you have to know yourself. Then, directly confront that bully in a non-threatening way. Ask them “is there something I did? Because maybe I’m misperceiving it.”
When it comes to handling a bully outside the office, say a neighbor or a peer at a sporting event or town activity, first realize it’s not your fault. It’s the bully that has the issue. Use your head to talk to the bully. Let your emotions settle first before you approach them so you can speak with a clear head. If your emotions are really high, walk away and regain your composure before approaching them.
So why do adults bully? Dr. Haber says that bullies are looking for support and also power. They feel as if they connect more with people through their nasty behavior. And if the support system - or bystander as they're called - would do something about it, the bully might stop, but that hardly ever happens. The bullies are rewarded and there's this incredible cycle that reinforces the bullying.
Have you ever been bullied as an adult? How did you handle the situation?
[Related: Could Your Child Be A Cyber-Bully?]