Friday, July 21, 2023

Emotionally Abusive Coworker: Signs, Effects And Prevention

Credit: Pexels.


Dealing with a coworker who abuses you emotionally can be hard and upsetting. People like this make the workplace unpleasant, which hurts not only the target but also the way the team works as a whole.


To solve this problem effectively, you need to know why they act the way they do and what happens as a result. In this piece, we'll talk about emotional abuse from coworkers, including what it is, why it happens, and how organizations can stop it.


Reasons Why Coworkers Abuse Emotionally

Emotional abuse from coworkers can be brought on by both personal and social factors. To deal with and stop these bad habits, it's important to understand why they started. Coworkers may treat each other badly in the following ways:


Some coworkers may feel threatened by their peers' skills, successes, or fame, so they may use emotional abuse to bring others down and bring themselves up.


Power and Control: Emotional abusers at work may try to rule and control their coworkers by using cruel and manipulative ways to stay in charge.


When there is a lot of pressure at work and a lot of competition for promotions or awards, coworkers may try to get ahead by putting each other down.


Stress and Frustration: When friends are stressed out or unhappy at work, they may take out their bad feelings on other people. This is what is known as mental abuse.


Some people may not have good communication skills, which could lead them to use emotional abuse as a way to show how upset or angry they are.


Workplace culture and norms: If emotional abuse is accepted or even seen as normal at work, people may start to act the same way, which can lead to a vicious loop.


Unresolved Conflicts: When anger and hate build up over time, this can lead to emotional abuse between coworkers.


Lack of Emotional Intelligence: People with low emotional intelligence may find it hard to understand how their coworkers feel, which makes them more likely to hurt them emotionally.


Personal problems and struggles: If a friend is having problems or struggles outside of work, they may bring those feelings to work, which can affect how they treat others.


Traumas and bad situations from the past: People who have been emotionally abused in the past may do the same things at work without even realizing it.


It's important to remember that these are not reasons to emotionally attack someone. Instead, they help explain the difficult things that can make people act this way. 

To stop emotional abuse at work, you need a full plan that includes educating workers, making the workplace a good place to work, and putting clear rules in place against abusive behavior.

A Worker Abused By Coworkers Credit: Pexels


Common Forms of Emotional Abuse in the Workplace

Emotional abuse at work can take many different forms, and some of them are sneaky and hard to spot, making it hard to deal with. To make the workplace healthier and more supportive, it's important to be aware of these typical forms of emotional abuse:


Criticism all the time: A coworker who is emotionally abusive may constantly criticize and put down their coworkers, attacking their work, ideas, and personal traits.


Gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which the abuser distorts the victim's view of reality, making them question their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.


Gossip and stories: Talking about coworkers in a negative way or spreading rumors about them can create a toxic environment that hurts trust and makes people feel alone.


Undermining Achievements: People who are emotionally abusive may try to take credit for their coworkers' ideas or work.


Intentional Exclusion: Leaving a partner out of important team activities or conversations can be a form of emotional abuse that makes the person feel alone and unimportant.


Public shaming or humiliation of a coworker in front of other people can be very bad for their self-esteem and general health.


Passive-aggressive behavior is when coworkers show their hostility or displeasure in a sneaky way. This is often done through sarcasm or backhanded praise.


Micromanagement: Constantly watching and controlling every move a partner makes can be draining and stifling on an emotional level.


Attacks on the person: People who hurt others emotionally may use attacks on the person's looks, personal life, or background.


Ignoring or giving the "silent treatment": Ignoring someone or giving them the "silent treatment" can make the workplace hostile and cause mental stress.


When people and groups know about these common types of emotional abuse, they can deal with them and stop them from happening. Promoting open conversation, empathy, and respect at work is important for making sure everyone has a healthy and supportive place to work.


Effects of Emotional Abuse by a Coworker

Emotional abuse from a coworker can have long-lasting effects on a person's health, job performance, and the way the workplace works as a whole. Some of the most important results are:


Emotional distress: People who have been emotionally abused can feel a wide range of feelings, such as worry, depression, fear, and anger. The steady stream of hurtful words and actions can make them feel bad about themselves and hurt their mental health.


Self-Esteem: Constant criticism and putting downs can hurt a person's sense of self-worth and confidence. They might start to doubt their skills and contributions and feel like they don't belong in their job.


Less Work Done: Emotional abuse can make it hard for the victim to focus and stay on task at work. The mental turmoil could make people less productive and less good at their jobs.


Physical Health Problems: Emotional abuse can cause long-term stress, which can lead to physical health problems like headaches, stomach problems, and trouble sleeping.


Isolation and withdrawal: When someone is emotionally abused, they may feel alone and cut off from their friends and coworkers. They may avoid people in their personal and work lives to protect themselves from more abuse.


Escalation of Conflicts: Emotional abuse can make workplace conflicts worse because the person being abused may react negatively or in anger.


High Turnover and Absenteeism: A toxic work setting with emotional abuse can cause high turnover and more people to miss work as they try to get away from the abuse.


Damage to the team: Emotional abuse can make it hard for people to work together. It makes the workplace feel unfriendly, which makes it hard for people to talk to each other and work together.


Negative organizational culture: An organization's trust and happiness can be hurt by a culture of emotional abuse, which makes the workplace unhealthy for everyone.


Impact on Personal Life: Emotional abuse at work can have a negative effect on a person's relationships and general health outside of work.


To lessen these effects, it is important to notice and deal with mental abuse right away. Organizations should make it a priority to create a supportive work environment that encourages open conversation, empathy, and respect. Implementing rules against emotional abuse, giving training on how to have healthy relationships at work, and helping people who have been abused are all important ways to create a good work environment and protect workers from the harmful effects of emotional abuse.

Credit: Pexels


4 Risk Factors for Abuse by a Coworker


  • Workplace Competition: When coworkers are very competitive with each other, the risk of emotional abuse goes up. In highly competitive settings, people may try to get ahead or get promoted by putting down their coworkers. This can lead to cruel behavior.
  • Organizational Hierarchies: Organizations with hierarchical structures can create power imbalances that make it easy for coworkers in places of authority to abuse their power. Those with more power may abuse it to control and manage the emotions of their coworkers. 
  • Workplace stress: Tight schedules and heavy workloads can make it harder for coworkers to get along. When people are under a lot of stress, they may act out mentally as a way to deal with their own problems. 
  • Lack of awareness and training: Organizations that don't teach people how to spot and stop emotional abuse may be more likely to see it happen. Without the right training, workers might not know how serious emotional abuse is or how to deal with it.


By figuring out these risk factors, groups can take preventative steps to stop emotional abuse at work. To reduce the risk of coworker abuse, it's important to put in place policies that promote a good work environment, encourage open communication, and offer training on emotional intelligence and conflict resolution. 

Creating a workplace where everyone feels supported and respected can make everyone healthy and more productive.


Can Emotional Abuse from Coworkers Affect Your Productivity?

Yes, emotional abuse from coworkers can significantly impact productivity. The target may find it challenging to focus on tasks, experience decreased motivation, and suffer from burnout. 

The toxic work environment created by emotional abuse can lead to increased absenteeism and presenteeism, where employees physically show up but are mentally disengaged. Ultimately, productivity may suffer, affecting the individual's performance and overall job satisfaction.


5 Things an Organization Can Do to Prevent Coworker Emotional Abuse

Set up clear rules against abuse: Make and share clear rules that say emotional abuse in the workplace is not allowed. These policies should explain what emotional abuse is, what happens when it's not stopped, and how workers who experience or see abusive behavior can report it.


Offer Training on Emotional Intelligence and Resolving Conflicts: Provide training classes that focus on emotional intelligence and resolving conflicts. By helping workers understand their feelings and teach them healthy ways to deal with conflicts, emotional abuse can be prevented in a big way.


Encourage a Good Work Environment: Create a good work environment where respect, empathy, and open conversation are valued. Encourage teamwork, celebrate successes, and deal with disagreements quickly and in a good way.


Set up ways for people to report abuse: Make sure there are safe, confidential ways for workers to report emotional abuse. Make sure workers feel safe coming forward without worrying about being punished and that their concerns are taken seriously.


Encourage Bystander Intervention: Tell your workers to be active bystanders who step in when they see emotional abuse. Give support and tools to help bystanders deal with the problem in a constructive way and stop things from getting worse.


By using these tactics, organizations can create a healthier and more supportive place to work, which can lower the risk of emotional abuse by coworkers. Organizations are very important in stopping emotional abuse because they raise awareness, offer tools, and create a culture that puts respect and well-being first.


Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I am experiencing emotional abuse from a coworker?

If a friend is making you feel bad about yourself emotionally, you need to deal with the problem right away. Think about talking to your friend about it and telling them how their actions make you feel. 

Write down instances of abuse and tell your boss or the human resources staff about them. Get help from coworkers, friends, or family, and think about getting professional help to deal with the mental effects.


Can emotional abuse from coworkers affect my career growth?


Yes, coworkers who hurt you emotionally can slow your job growth. The bad work environment could make people feel less satisfied with their jobs and less motivated. It could also hurt business relationships and chances to meet new people. 

In extreme cases, the mental toll can cause people to lose their jobs or fall behind in their careers. If you deal with emotional abuse right away, it can hurt your job less.


Is coworker emotional abuse considered workplace harassment?


Yes, emotional abuse from a coworker can be called harassment at work. Emotional abuse can make the workplace unpleasant, which can hurt a person's health and make them less productive. 

When emotional abuse is frequent and serious, it may be against the law and workplace harassment policies. Organizations should take these cases carefully and take the right steps to make sure their workplaces are safe and respectful.


Emotional abuse from coworkers can hurt both the person and the way the workplace works as a whole. For a healthy and supportive work atmosphere, it's important to understand why this kind of behavior happens, how it affects people, and what can be done to stop it. 

To stop emotional abuse, both individuals and organizations need to work together to support respect, empathy, and good communication.