Just like any other bullying, the workplace bully doesn't just wreck havoc on the life and mental health of the person or persons they bully. Workplace morale suffers, productivity suffers, and ultimately the bottom line of the company suffers if the bully isn't stopped.
Let us start with the most immediate impact and work our way out.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs postulates that human beings are motivated (or demotivated) based on how well our needs are being met (or not) in a given situation. These needs are catagorized thus:
The foundational level concerns how well our physical needs are being met. We need essentials like sleep, breathable air, nourishment, water and a place to live. The workplace bully might start undermining his or her employees right at this very basic level with unrealistic expectations that must be met in order to remain employed, necessitating that the employee work more hours than is physically healthy.
The second level is all about security. Notice that this need is directly connected to level one, particularly when we are talking about job security and workplace bullying. Without job security physical needs may not be met sufficiently. Worrying about that may contribute to sleeplessness, compounding the problem. Continuing with the above example, if the sleep deprived employee is constantly remind that his or her position could be terminated at any moment, he or she is now concerned with primarily just keeping the job, which means job performance may suffer.
We can move up to level three concerns only when needs are met at the first two levels. Here we reach out to others and build relationships, which are integral to a safe and efficient working environment. If needs are not met at this level, motivation and productivity suffer. A bully manager works by pitting people against each other, as well as making everyone in his department focus so hard on the basic needs of the first two levels that they may begin competing instead of collaborating. Here the unchecked bullying ripples out from the individual employee to the department and ultimately the company.
Level four relates to concerns about our need to feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments. We begin to really feel the negative impact of this bullying on an employees mental health. Already concerned about basic needs, and perhaps feeling a bit isolated, if the bully manager then uses public humiliation, constantly criticizes with no positive feedback, or even actively engages other employees in the bullying, this results in low self-esteem. It is here that the high turn over really begins to affect a company's bottom line. Once the employee's mental health, physical health and professional future are compromised, if the company does not address the problem, the only solution is to leave out of self-preservation. The cost of training new employees as the bully destroys his team one-by-one becomes a much bigger issue. This may also be where the costs include legal fees as every aspect of an employee's life is destroyed.
Self-Actualization is the final level. If a manager intentionally defeats his team members at every turn and an employee has no possible way not only reaching their full potential, with every single need on the Hierarchy of Needs compromised, the effects may reach out even further.
Tragically, death is one final outcome, either due to the disastrous health consequences of chronic and excessive stress, suicide or homicide .
It is imperative that when a workplace bully is identified, he or she is stopped! It is in the best interest of the employee, his or her family, the employer, and society.
Workplace Bullies-Managing or Damaging? Part 1-Recognizing Bullying
Jumping to conclusions seems to be human nature. In psychology the phenomenon is identified as "inference-observation confusion" and is a form of cognitive distortion. In Integrative Wellness circles, unfavorable over-generalizations are often made to describe a complex perspective on health by those who do not fully understand the paradigm from which integrative care operates.
I see this in my work as a wellness mentor in both birthing and in stress management.
In birth, it manifests with a number of misconceptions which I've explored in Mother's Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth.
In stress management and the many sequelae associated with stress, like depression, the assumption might be that if testing for a vitamin D deficiency is suggested, the practitioner is rejecting conventional approaches to treatment. That is simply not how integrative wellness works.
Integrative physicians are medical practitioners who can, and do, use traditional approaches. The difference is that an Integrative physician will try to find the source of the problem instead of treating symptoms. Once treatment is initiated, it starts out with the least risky interventions.
The reason for this conservative approach is that they are fully aware of the limitations of traditional medicine and the risks that it holds. More than 700,000 people die each year due to iatrogenic causes. That means conventional medicine kills that may people each year. More than half of these deaths are due to medication errors or adverse reactions. Thus, it makes perfect sense to minimize the use of pharmaceuticals to true medical indication.
Let us look at an all to common example of this before applying this approach to stress.
In conventional medicine, antibiotics are prescribed as the first option for everything from the common cold to ear infections and beyond. This, despite continued admonishment from the CDC that this NOT be the preferred treatment due to the very concerning rise of antibiotic resistance. Conventional thought encourages parents to give their children fever reducers and send them off to school, despite the fact that fever has a purpose. The child may not feel sick for awhile, but they ARE still sick. And now they are out getting everyone they come in contact with sick as well.
This approach of throwing and antibiotic at unknown organisms has serious repercussions, and in situations where the sick person is making or serving food to the public, treating the symptoms so that the person can work while still ill can lead to epidemics.
What would a person do if they preferred an integrative approach? The first line of defense would be prevention. Hand washing, probiotics, and perhaps elderberry syrup if the bug was thought to be the flu. If the illness persists and the body's own defenses aren't adequate to the job, a culture might be done to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. If bacterial, an antibiotic might be warranted, with proactive measures to try to limit the risks of the antibiotic, like yeast infections. If viral, an antibiotic would do nothing except introduce risk, so other options would be explored. Throughout, proper nutrition, hydration and hygiene would be maintained, with more risky interventions introduced in a way to minimize their risk. Notice that medication was not rejected; it just wasn't introduced first.
Now on to stress…
The first and best option in following an integrative approach is to prevent stress in the first place. Obviously, this isn't always possible, since even positive life events are stressful. Unavoidable stressors are introduced into all of our lives, every day.
Next, we need to recognize stress when and how it presents. We need to know how it affects our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. We might add exercise or yoga, which also shows promise in not just reducing anxiety, but treating depression that often accompanies prolonged stress and anxiety. Meditation, hypnosis or guided visualization (all theta brainwave states) might be incorporated, also beneficial for depression. Zentangle has been used in stress management and anger management. Vitamin D levels might be checked, as cortisol may deplete vitamin D, and vitamin D deficiencies are associated with depression, in addition to other mental illness and chronic pain. Also helpful for anxiety, depression and insomnia is the FDA approved Alpha Stim.
If stress were still unmanageable, therapy might be considered next, or at the very least learning cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to manage stress.
If the stress is so chronic and severe that it is unmanageable, medications might be appropriate, or even hospitalization. Again, the holistic provider is going to choose the medication with the fewest risks, and is going to suggest that all of the above mentioned therapies are continued so the least possible dose of the appropriate medication can address the issue. Notice again that at no time is conventional care rejected. ALL of the natural treatments for stress, anxiety and depression are compatible with medication and therapy. The only natural treatment options that may not be would be herbs or perhaps some supplements useful for anxiety and depression.
One of the criticism of integrative medicine is that people eschew modern medicine for old wives tales. As you can see, Integrative care is all inclusive. It does not suggest that all issues can be solved with natural remedies, but that often the root cause begins with imbalance that can be corrected. When that is not possible, each option up the ladder is embraced, so long as it proves to be effective. Many of the interventions have been studied and shown to be effective, while others still need to be studied, but are at least not harmful.
My stress management/reduction workshops are designed to meet several time and budget constraints.
Perhaps one of the best reasons to opt for the 3-hour or full day workshops is the live demonstration of the Wild Divine Relaxing Rhythms program. When possible participants will even be able to try it out themselves!
Click the image above to visit the Wild Divine website to learn more!