How workplace bullying targets offset the pain

Sad businesswoman

Bullying causes pain. Workplace bullying targets look to both positive and negative vices to offset the pain. In a 2013 poll, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) found that targets resort to, in order of popularity:

  • Social withdrawal (33%). Social withdrawal makes recovery more difficult. While social affiliation helps with distress, targets tend to disengage with shame and distress.
  • Self-destructive behaviors (32%). Overeating and drinking topped the list of destructive behaviors.
  • Positive behaviors (25%). A quarter of respondents reported using positive behaviors to offset the pain, including turning to religion, faith, and spirituality.
  • Displacement (10%). The remaining respondents reported taking issues out on family and friends.

WBI points out that rarely are coping mechanisms conscious at first. If they were, we’d only be engaging in exercise, engaging with family and friends, learning something new, and turning to faith. Stress limits targets’ ability to see these positive vices. But when the initial shock wears off, targets tend to seek information and help.

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