Bullying is Bad for Everyone

Including the Bully

At Workright we specialize in managing, responding to and preventing bullying and harassment in the workplace.  As mental health professionals we also recognize that while bullying severely impacts the victims and the organizations in which they work, it also harms the bully.

Research shows that toxic emotions such as anger, resentment, hostility, rage, envy and jealousy take a significant toll on the body’s organs and processes, leading to such health issues as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, stress, anxiety and immune impairment.

Victims of workplace harassment equally experience negative physiological and psychological outcomes.  Bullied individuals are frequently diagnosed with insomnia, anxiety, depression, fear, terror, posttraumatic stress disorder, high blood pressure and stroke, to name a few.

There is also a flip side.  An article titled The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger measured the impact of negative and positive emotions on the body and mind.

Researchers Glen Rein, PhD, Mike Atkinson, and Rollin McCraty, MA measured “salivary immunoglobulin” (S-IgA) levels of individuals in a state of Anger and Frustration vs. levels in individuals in a state of Care and Compassion.  The authors explain that salivary immunoglobulin is the predominant antibody class that provides the first line of defense against pathogens in the upper respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal system and the urinary tract. 

Higher levels are associated with decreased incidence of disease and susceptibility to upper respiratory infections.

The researchers found that S-IgA levels in the Anger and Frustration group did not increase when induced by experiences leading to anger, but resulted in elevated heart rate, mood disturbances along with physical symptoms such as headache, dry mouth and muscular pains.  The Care and Compassion group, when induced by experiences of compassion, produced large increases in S-IgA (up to 240%) leading to a general state of wellbeing, relaxation and increased energy.

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, ““I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  Little did he know that his advice was not only morally, ethically and spiritually profound, but was also backed up by science.

Organizations continue to suffer fallout from bullying such as reputational damage, litigation, escalating insurance costs, employee turnover and reduced employee morale.  So why do we tolerate it?

Let’s turn this around.  Deal with workplace bullies.  The damage they cause everyone, including themselves is not worth the price.  Workright’s Leading with Respect Program is an intensive program developed by psychologist Dr. Stephanie Bot to rehabilitate workplace bullies. Our Managing Mental Health and Psychological Safety master certificate program trains leaders how to respond to harassers while protecting employees and the organization.

Let’s choose love.  It’s the better way for everyone.

 

 By Donna Marshall, M.A., CEO, Workright Ltd.

Bullying is Bad for Everyone

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