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We’ve heard about the dangerous impact of bullying on mental healthPTSD being the most profound and nefarious product of abuse. Self-worth sinks to zero when feelings of accomplishment are destroyed. If vicious enough, a single bullying incident can do the trick.

Bullies don’t see colleagues per se – they instead see a crevice into which they can pour contempt. Self-esteem then retreats behind a plasterboard of shame, silence, false guilt, and smashed spirit. If you smudge a brilliant object, it loses its shine. Similarly, bullying leaves a smear on one’s soul – a signal to others that your effulgence was only fleeting, a flash in the pan or aberration that could just as easily have been a fluke. Targets’ iridescence emits a dull glow.

People covered with mental garbage behave in a vanquished manner. A scene from the film “What Dreams May Come” represents inmates of mental hell desperately trying to speak, but who are unable to open their mouths. Bullied targets sometimes appear in this same fashion – defenseless to an organizational dog pack. Their restraining gag (chagrin) is the primary weapon of abusers. We can leave either a stain or an anointing on another person.

Scars from verbal battery run deep, visible through a person’s cowed demeanor and timid reaction. Targets suffer a slow death – living with humiliation, loss of face, and a steaming heap of disrespect. The more honorable peers will attempt reconciliation; the shiftier ones will try to cover their tracks. Public humiliation is like taking your inner core (that which you wish to remain private) and smattering it on the wall for others to see.

It’s been suggested that we can only rise to the ceiling of our own self-image. If that’s the case, bullies have severely constrained your potential – at least within the confines of your own mind. Battles are won/lost first within ourselves, with our ability to triumph hampered by the incoming shrapnel of serial abusers.

As employees, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Your corporate position is not a ringside seat for a sideshow. As peers, it’s necessary to fortify coworkers’ image through compliments and proactive comments. “Atta-boys” are the air holes in a sheaf of indifference, designed to plump the self-image through a serum of compassion.
  • What encouraging remarks can you make at work? We choose either life or death within our speech. In talking behind others’ backs, tattling, and grandstanding within meetings, you’re planning coworkers’ moratorium. Choose to celebrate their life instead.
  • As a target: keep your head above water despite others’ efforts to submerge you. Take the high road, hold your head high, and hold others to a higher standard (through example). Choose to act, not react. You are not someone else’s hostage, despite their attempts to bind you with emotional abuse.

Corporate ascension is structured in ways that promote the strongest. There are predetermined paths for specific persons – an exclusive, target absent enclave. Try to increase coworkers’ odds by sharing kudos and eschewing negative remarks.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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