Anxious People More Likely To Be Bullied At Work


Anxious people are more likely to feel bullied at work, according to a study published in Anxiety, Stress & Coping. Incidentally, being anxious might make people more vulnerable to being bullied.

The study was conducted by the University of East Anglia and surveyed 348 workers in Spain regarding their relation of anxiety to work. Sixth months after the first survey, the participants were asked the same question. The team found that those who reported feeling more anxiety since the last questionnaire showed an increase in the feeling of being bullied. Researchers called the cyclical nature of the anxiety and bullying a “negative loop.”

“Showing anxious behavior may put [the] employee in a weak position...making him an easy target,” the researchers wrote. "Another explanation is the so-called 'gloomy perception mechanism' in which anxious employees may evaluate their environment more negatively.”

In other words, people with anxiety are more likely to feel like they’re being bullied than what’s actually occurring.

The researchers pointed to a possible solution: participants who reported feeling more engaged at work, energized and dedicated to their jobs were less likely to report anxiety or bullying.

"We are by no means victim-blaming here,” the researchers noted. “Clearly employers need to have strong policies against workplace bullying. But training programs to help victims learn coping mechanisms could help to break the vicious cycle."

Dr. Sanz Vergel, study lead, summarized that being exposed to workplace bullying leads to deteriorated mental health and decreased well being. At the same time, showing anxious behavior can put the victim in a weak position. Such bullying also led to a decrease in vigor.

Vergel noted that the connection workplace bullying and its psychological impact on victims is more complex than expected.

Source: Eureka Alert / Photo Credit: Flcikr

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