Do you know an adult bully?
Bullying does not have an expiration date of high school graduation. In fact, 31% of adults report being bullied in the past year, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Bullying is a coping strategy people use to gain power while reducing the victim’s power. Adults are more likely to suffer verbal bullying, which Psychology Today defined as insults or teasing over physical bullying such as hitting or pushing. However, both can be equally detrimental to the health of the victim.
Jennifer Zerfowski, a licensed clinical social worker at Advocate Medical Group in Bloomington, Ill., suggests two important steps when dealing with a bully.
- Determine if the battle is worth the fight: Zerfowski recommends asking yourself these two questions:
- “Is this harmful to me and/or is it excessive?”
- “Is this worth my time and energy?”
- If the answer is no, Zerfowski advises learning to keep your cool and not reacting to the bully. This prevents the bully from getting satisfaction. If the answer to either question is yes, then Zerfowski suggests that you be assertive, specific and confident in communicating your thoughts, feelings and needs.
- Involve someone in higher authority: Zerfowski recommends using this step as needed for situations such as workplace bullying. Bullied adults will often take sick days to avoid conflict at work which can affect their career if someone in authority is unaware.
People have fundamental human rights, she says.
“Bullies try to take these rights away in order to take advantage of a person and control them,” says Zerfowski.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or issues, consider talking to a counselor or primary care physician.