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As an alum of the Liberty, Missouri, school district, as well as a business owner with an anti-workplace bullying platform, the recent news has saddened me. I wish the statement made by the Liberty superintendent would have gone something like this.


Here’s the thing: getting a diploma doesn’t mean bullying ends. School bullying has everything to do with workplace bullying because it’s damaging no matter the setting. Work Warrior strives to create healthier workplaces. More workplaces need to be aware that bullying takes place, and it’s a serious problem.


First, let’s define workplace bullying. Workplace bullying is defined as persistent and negative behavior against a co-worker or subordinate by a group or an individual. Bullying in the classroom doesn’t just stop when kids graduate; bullying happens in the workplace and we need to call it what it is.


There’s a misconception that the way to respond to workplace bullying is just to “suck it up” and work through it. There’s a misunderstanding that we just need to get past it, that people are just mean sometimes. But bullying does run rampant — and it has lasting effects on both those being bullied and the workplace as a whole.


Bullying affects the victim first, but causes destruction throughout the company. Bullying hasserious psychological effects. Toxic workplaces suffer from increased absenteeism as well as decreased productivity. And add poor health (think high blood pressure and increased stress, plus depression and anxiety) and low employee morale to the mixEmployee engagement,across all departments, takes an unparalleled dive.


If you’re a manager and you know bullying is happening — or, more importantly, you want to prevent it before it begins — start with procedures. Part of the problem with workplace bullying lies in the legal system: unlike discrimination or sexual harassment it’s not legally viewed as a type of aggression. So the number one thing your organization can do is to create policies around not being a jerk in the workplace. Written procedures give victims of bullying a framework to speak up and get the support they need to put a stop to it.


If you’re being bullied and are in a toxic workplace, your first step is to call it what it is, and say it out loud. There’s power and freedom in putting a name to the problem and acknowledging what’s happening. You didn’t cause it. You don’t deserve it. Don’t minimize what you’re experiencing — recognize that it’s really happening.


Secondly, know that you are not alone. Workplace bullying sometimes happens to the best and brightest employees in the organization. It’s quite possible that you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you may never have experienced bullying before. Know that this is not your fault.


Step three: Don’t be afraid to leave. It’s easy to internalize this action, feeling like a failure or a quitter. But resigning from your job in a toxic workplace is no reflection on you. Leaving may actually be the best thing for your health, family, and career.


Finally, take advantage of these resources:


March marks the launch of our #SayItOutLoud campaign here at Work Warrior. Have a story to share? We want to help you share it. We’ll walk through it with you and help you say your story out loud to inspire, encourage and empower others.