Zen for Targets of Workplace Abuse, Bullying & Discrimination

Many workers today are stuck in a difficult workplace, where they suffer severe and potentially health-endangering stress.

Patricia G. Barnes has written a new book, Transcend Your Boss: Zen and the Difficult Workplace, which helps targets of workplace abuse, bullying and discrimination persist in a hostile environment long enough to address the problems that are causing them grief.

“The stress gets so bad that many targets of workplace abuse quit because they can’t take it anymore,” said Barnes. “Zen theory and simple meditation techniques are a lifeline for workers who are suffering from abuse, bullying and discrimination.”

Barnes said stress can also lead targets of workplace abuse to behave impulsively or in a self-destructive manner.  “For example,” she said, “They hit the send button on a blistering email to the boss that the boss turns around and uses as evidence against them.”

“The fool thinks he has won a battle with harsh speech, but knowing how to be forbearing alone makes one victorious”       – the Buddha.

A judge and an attorney, Barnes is also the author of Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace (2013), which provides a overview of legal options available to targets of workplace abuse.   She also writes a syndicated employment law blog,  When the Abuser Goes To Work.

Barnes said there is a growing body of scientific research showing meditation provides relief from anxiety and stress. She said meditation also helps workers gain clarity about their problems and to focus upon a constructive solution. Meditation is easily adapted to the workplace, she said.

Workers who remain in stressful jobs risk significant harm to their mental and physical health. Barnes said overwhelming medical research shows that targets of bullying and abuse suffer multiple short-term health effects, including anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion and depression. New research suggests that workers who are exposed to stress over many years may develop chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in the United States.

Barnes contends the poor economy and high unemployment hold many workers hostage to bad jobs. For example, she said, older workers may be reluctant to leave a job because of the difficulty in finding a new job. More than half of unemployed older workers have been unemployed for six months or more.  Moreover, older workers who are lucky enough to find a new job are usually paid substantially less.

“Everyone knows it’s hard for older workers to quit when they are mistreated because they may never find an equivalent position and retirement is looming,” she said. “They’re an easy target for bullies.”

The United States lags far behind other industrialized countries in addressing the problem of workplace bullying. . In Europe, she said, employers have a duty to ensure that their workplace is both mentally and physically safe.

Transcend Your Boss: Zen and the Difficult Workplace explores Zen theory, which is based on the 2,500-year-old teachings of the Buddha, and provides an assortment of  meditations that are designed for workers who are being bullied or harassed.

Transcend Your Boss: Zen and the Difficult Workplace is available in paperback at Create Space.


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Do something about the epidemic of workplace bullying!

Please sign this petition to ask President Obama and the Secretary of Labor to formulate uniform national legislation to protect American workers from this widely recognized form of workplace violence.

The petition drive is sponsored by this blog  and other workplace anti-bully advocates.

Workplace bullying is devastating to the mental and physical health of targets and it costs employees, employers and taxpayers billions each year in lost productivity, absenteeism and health and social welfare costs.

America lags far behind other industrialized countries on this issue. Sweden adopted a workplace anti-bully law in 1993. The 32 countries of the European Union agreed in 2007 to require employers to prevent and protect workers from workplace bullying. Workers in Turkey and Estonia have protection from workplace bullying – why don’t we?

A 2011 survey by CareerBuilder found that 27 percent of American workers report having been bullied in the workplace. The short-term impact of this form of abuse is severe anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. The long-term impact of high stress is chronic disease,  including cardiovascular disease.

The vast majority of targets have little or no legal recourse. For many, the only hope is to quit and face chronic unemployment.