Do you know an adult bully?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Bullying victims can face health problems both physically and mentally. Some symptoms can include changes in sleeping and eating habits, headaches, muscle pain, anxiety and depression.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or issues, consider talking to a counselor or primary care physician.

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  1. Yes I met a male bully at work who got into my face and repeated 3x that I disrespected you what you going to do about it in front of other people, the list is endless.

  2. Excellent article!

  3. Yes! Been there and seen it all! Escalated to Supervisor and nothing was ever done. Many people, including myself saw that leaving / quitting was the only recourse. When I left, I told my manager, that they have lost a lot of good people because of this person and they will lose more if the problem person was not dealt with. To this day, that person still has their job and many others have left…Such a shame that management does not heed the warnings. I guess they would rather let good people leave than deal with a difficult situation! SMH

  4. Good reading. Unfortunately, this is not addressed by many managers. Happens everyday. Very sad. Try to walk away and remember that people throw rocks at things that shine. Keep positive and move forward.

  5. @Theresa – You’d be amazed how cunning some bullies are. It’s not unreasonable to assume that management is afraid of the bully in a “blackmail” sort of way…. just sayin’….

  6. Can you write an article, about being considerate of work space noise.
    Ways to be considerate of co-workers and not talking loud on phone. while other in tight office space are also trying to work. ways to speak into phone and move mouth piece to use phone volume.. I have a very loud coworker, every time coworkers have complained. she takes it as a personal attack, we need suggestions to help her understand, loud voices mean not everyone can work without her affecting there ability to work. any suggestions. would be helpful

  7. It is unfortunate when the bully turns out to be in a “management” role.
    There is little else to do but ‘deal with it’ or ‘move on’.

  8. Yes I know an adult bully and have been victim to her bullying for a very long time. Brought it to the attention of manager several times. Was told “ok, I’ll talk to her”, but when it kept going on knew nothing had been done.

  9. Theresa said it perfectly- the bullies get to keep their job while the company maintains a high turnover. It’s amazing how management must feel threatened by bullies, too. And when the victims defend themselves, there is nothing but more bullying and harassment, and the only choice to leave. It’s not fair and sadly it will continue.

  10. It took years, but eventually got resolved. I a new male employee in a predominant female environment was being defamed behind my back by one person who didn’t like a male being in their department. I even got suspended for a week while being investigated, because she literally set me up, I was cleared of that, that’s when I think she went on their radar. I went through hell. I had no chance to introduce myself to anyone she already had me pre-defamed to every person on staff. I stuck with my job though. I finally started writing down everything she did. I prayerfully took an it’s either me or her stand. I was willing to get fired if that is what it took. I went in the HR office and laid what has been going on all out on the table. My supervisor was on her side the whole time before that, something happened, because she came and apologized to me and it never happened again after that. She eventually lost her job and so did the supervisor. I didn’t want that to happen to either of them. I just wanted them to treat me and others with respect.

  11. When I was a little girl I got Bullyed all the time ,it was awful … I went to a new school and things got better ,I was in special ed classes and I prayed about at it all the time. Being in the work force over there years I get tessed about my spelling or not saying a word right . I sometimes cry in the bathroom but most of the time its all good ….I have three beautiful and smart kids and I have tought them not to be bullys and they have gotten awards from school over there years for there kindness..Bully come with in the family most of time..

About the Author

Anna Kohler
Anna Kohler