How do you know when you have been emotionally abused in the workplace?
Harassment and violence in the workplace have garnered significant research and public attention in the last few years.
Plenty of attention has been concentrated on the more extreme types of physical violence like homicide and, to a
lesser degree, racial and sexual harassment in the workplace. But latest research of workplaces suggest there’s
another kind of violence that is more consistent, has similar effects to racial, physical, and sexual violence, yet
seems to be more socially acceptable.
Emotional abuse is the hostile verbal and non-verbal behaviours, which are not explicitly associated with racial and
sexual content yet, are aimed at gaining compliance from other people. Examples of such behaviours include ridiculing
somebody in front of others, negative rumours, use of derogatory names, screaming or yelling, explosive outbursts of
rage, the “silent treatment,” aggressive eye contact, and withholding of important information. In spite of growing
public awareness, a systematic study has been slow in coming. This post reviews the best research findings to identify
what is known and what concerns are still unanswered.
Tips to recognise emotional abuse:
The abuser uses every opportunity to deliver insults to his victim, by indirectly delivering the insults or saying it
to the target’s face. Some might be sly cunning about it, pretending to be nice and civil, their facial expression and
body language in direct contradiction with the words emerging from their mouths. However, some might choose to do this
in an openly aggressive way, obviously leaving no room for scepticism that they mean the things they are saying.
The most recognisable form of verbal abuse is name-calling, with the abuser using insulting language and offensive
names to take advantage of the target of his abuse. The person uses this to win an argument. He also uses name-calling
to persuade or sway other people to condemn or reject his target, or anything that is related to him. This is also a
popular method when the abuser wishes to establish his superiority over the target of his abuse.
Providing the silent treatment
This is a non-verbal method of playing with the emotions of the abused. In other cases, the silent treatment might be
followed by looks and glares of open aggression. The abused will at first be puzzled at the reason why he/she is being
offered a snub, and this will eat away at him or her until it has an effect on his focus and concentration at the
workplace. Often, the abuser won’t make any attempt to explain why, because he takes pleasure from the confusion being
experienced by the victim.
The emotional abuser will enjoy openly embarrassing his victim, so he might opt to give his putdowns abusive remarks
when there are other people around. He/she will deliver his assaults in front of the other staff and, worse, even in
front of the employers, particularly when putting the other person down might likely benefit him. For example, if
there’s a project awaiting approval, or a promotion about to take place, and the abuser sees the victim as a rival or
a threat, he will not hesitate to use public embarrassment to get his way. This is often used behaviour for co-worker
How to stop emotional abuse:
Keep your cool and stay calm.
Always maintain a decent and civil mindset when experiencing these emotional hostilities, even when the abuser begins
to use angry outburst at you.
Getting angry not only increases the chance of an ugly confrontation, but it also places you in a more fragile place.
Keep in mind; the abuser will take advantage of your off misery and discomfort.
The moment the abuser notices that he/she can provoke you and get you angry, this will encourage them to carry on with
their abuses and become more creative with them. If you cannot be relaxed after an especially brutal rant, the most
secure action to take is to step away, get some air, inhale and exhale, until you have calmed down. That’s the only
moment you need to walk back in to speak to him.
Speak to the abuser with a rational mindset and confidence
You should look them directly in the eye in the entire time. If you can carry out the discussion in full view of the
other staff that witnessed mistreatment that could be a lot better. Be sure to ask the abuser to cease what he is
doing, and make it crystal clear that you won’t tolerate it. You should also let him know that, if he does not stop,
you will not think twice about reporting him to your employers.
- If in spite of that, the hostility persists, then it is about time to report the matter to your managers, together with documentation on the information of the acts of abuse you suffered, and your fruitless efforts to resolve things.
- Don’t hesitate to mention the mistake of his ways, particularly, his assaults. Most of the time, verbal abuses comprise attacks on the personal matters and life of the victim. If this sounds like the situation with you, proceed and make it clear how unprofessional he is being by having your personal life mixed up with matters at work. This is also a perfect way to set boundaries and show the abuser, as well as other co-workers that you don’t like mixing professional and personal lives. The “hidden” expense of workplace meanies
- Pay attention, I know some people are not comfortable with labels, but tyrants, bullies, and narcissists have earned their name fair and square. These are not people experiencing a bad day. Their unconscionable behaviour is continual, without good reason, and very damaging.
Direct bottom-line expenses linked to workplace emotional abuse include:
- Recruiting fees associated with increased turnover
- Legal fees
- Increased usage of disability and medical plans
- Severance payouts to victims
- Increased presenteeism – (working whilst sick or longer than required).
- Increased absenteeism
Remember that the victim is not the only affected party; witnesses to the physical or mental abuse also suffer.
Please contact me if your happiness and progress is being affected by work place emotional abuse.