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Bullying Bosses Cause Stress

By Expert HERWriter
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Emotional Health related image Photo: Getty Images

This morning I was watching Good Morning America and they had a segment on “Bullying Bosses” at work. The story was about how to deal with a person who used his or her power as a boss to demean or treat you poorly. As I watched the segment it reminded me of a situation that a friend of mine is working through right now. It also reminded me of situation that occurred to me on a long-term project I was working on. In both cases the work situation with the supervisors' behavior was so toxic that it caused stress to the employee that had to work with them (me and my friend). I will speak for myself and say the situation of dealing with a difficult boss caused me constant daily stress. It became so physically and mentally exhausting that I preferred to give up that income source instead of continuing to work in that stressful environment.

Why did I decide that the stress was so dangerous for me? Stress is one of the major causes of disease in the body. It amazes me that it is so underestimated how chronic stress is a risk factor for so many disease processes including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Stress is a part of the normal life cycle but stress, or more specifically the release of stress hormones is only supposed to happen for very short burst of time when we are confronted with a life threatening situation. Our stress hormones create a cascade of biological events that allow us to become very alert and able to move out of a harmful situation quickly. Once we have gotten away from that harmful situation we can then relax and move into a state of relaxation so our body can recover from the stressful event. When you are confronted with constant stress it slowly begins to wear down your body and puts you at a greater risk for the diseases I have mentioned above, as well as anxiety, depression, the tendency to get colds and the flu multiple times per year and so many others.

So what do you do about stress? There are several options but the number one based on numerous studies is to exercise. Exercise has been shown to be as effective reducing stress as some medications.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Bullying bosses are a very real and very troublesome problem in many workplaces.

Unfortunately, most of the discussion that I've seen of bullying bosses doesn't offer any solutions that get at the root cause of what's going on. This article gives three options: (1) ignore the boss (2) confront the boss (3) go over the boss's head. I think none of these are the best issue. Ignoring it doesn't solve anything, confronting the boss directly might make things worse, and going over their head could also backfire.

Is there another way out? I think there is. I think that I would recommend (a) finding ways to insulate your own well-being from the negativity of the boss, maintaining an inner calm (this is a useful skill for anyone to learn, so you might as well see the boss as a challenge, an opportunity to grow in a key way that will yield benefits for years to come) (b) finding ways to approach the bully with compassion, in order to undercut the root cause of the bullying (which is usually a sense of powerlessness in the mind of the bully, which he or she tries to regain in non-constructive ways). Some bullies can be overcome by flooding them with positivity and by drawing out positive qualities in them. (c) thinking critically about the institutional culture in your workplace: Why is the bullying going on? Is your boss responding to a system of incentives that creates stress which he or she passes on to you? And why is the boss allowed to bully without being reprimanded or guided to be more positive? Is the situation fixable, or should you start looking for another job?

I ultimately think this is more constructive!

November 1, 2010 - 12:30pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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