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.


Author: pgb

Attorney at Law, author and blogger.

2 thoughts on “Zen for Targets of Workplace Abuse, Bullying & Discrimination

  1. … with a little tweaking, our federal statutes could cover everyone who is bullied. Hostile work environment could do the job nicely despite that there is always judicial subjectivity amid a broken judicial system to consider. What we need most is personal accountability, something lacking and the alternative to which we essentially leave to employers when they have been defeated. I’m willing to bet that the good ole boys who perpetrated a reign of terror on me that would make your hair stand on end, would have thought twice if they knew there would be an actual penalty for their deeds. Like say automatic termination? I am a strong advocate of personal responsibility, an attribute that is key to workplace success and traditionally learned at home. If it isn’t, well, we need to draw a clear line that will remind all the boys and girls how to place nice in the schoolyard together. RE: Zen, that is interesting. I probably could have used that back then. But even if we use coping mechanisms that work, we cannot simply throw up our hands and allow these perps to go on the way they do. I hear some in the WP bullying “industry” advocate that…I surely don’t. Walking away might give you a reprieve for a bit, but you can best believe that eventually all the unchecked beasts will be waiting in the sidelines to get you or someone you love or know. Sweeping problems under the rug does not make them go away. Ed. Note: Ms. Zerilli-Edelglass is the author of a memoir about her first-person experience with workplace harassment called, THROWN UNDER THE BUS: THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN WORKER (2013).

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