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5 signs you may be experiencing workplace bullying

Workplace bullying can create a hostile work environment and even drive employees out of a job entirely. It goes beyond merely having a co-worker you don't like -- you're not going to be friends with everyone -- and reaches into the territory of abuse. Some have even said that it's equivalent to domestic violence. Instead of targeting a family member, it targets a co-worker.

Wondering if you're really facing workplace bullying and what you can do about it? Below are a few signs to watch out for.

1. The other person is attempting to control you.

Bullying is often about little more than control. A co-worker may not outrank you, but he or she tries to dictate your behavior and benefit from it through bullying. The person may not actually have anything against you, but may see putting you down as a way to elevate himself or herself.

2. The bullying seems planned out.

It's not always random. The bully picks times and places to confront you. They may be places where the bully knows the two of you will be alone and no one else will see what transpires.

3. The bully hinders your ability to work.

The bully may see it as a prank, but his or her actions make it so you actually can't do your job. This could even be intentional. By doing it, the bully may be able to limit your production and keep you from being successful on the job, making you look like a poor employee -- when you're really doing the best possible job that you can.

4. Bullying can take many forms.

Sometimes, you may be verbally abused. Often, the abuse focuses on your emotions, leaving you depressed or angry -- or both. The bully may threaten you with physical violence that is never carried out. He or she may try to humiliate you in front of others in the workplace. In the worst cases, the bullying could even turn physical.

5. The bully tries to make people choose sides.

It's not enough for the bully to square off against you alone. He or she tries to get people to side against you. If anyone sides with you or tries to stand up for you, they could also become targets. The bully tries to intimidate others so that everyone is against you or at least apathetic about what is happening.

Bullying does not end in grade school. It can and does happen at work, and it may violate your very rights as a worker. It makes you miserable on the job and leaves you feeling very alone. Remember, you're not alone, and there may be legal steps you can take. Be sure you know what they are.

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