April 15, 2013 by Jonathan Horn
Catherine Mattice spent five years being bullied at her job at a now-defunct San Diego nonprofit.
She began showing up late, became depressed, anxious, angry and unhappy.
It got so bad that in 2007, Mattice, then the human resources director, was asked to leave.
"Bullying is basically psychological abuse," said Mattice, 33, of University Heights. "You have people who feel very victimized, and your job is a big part of your self-concept of who you are. And when somebody is ripping you to shreds every day then it takes a toll on you."
The catch is that workplace bullying is legal, so long as it's not because someone is a member of a protected class such as race, religion, or gender.
Still, Mattice is hoping what happened to her doesn't happen to you. She's co-authored a self-help guidebook on how to combat workplace bullying. It's called "Back Off! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work." The 250-page hard copy is available online at sites like Amazon.com for $14.95, and an e-book version should be available by year's end.
Now a consultant on workplace civility and an adjunct communications professor at Chapman's Brandman University in San Diego, Mattice said workplace bullying is less rare than one might think. She points to a 2012 study by Careerbuilder.com that found 35 percent of workers reported they'd been bullied at work.
Mattice said the employee who bullied her was a staple of the nonprofit, working there 14 years. Otherwise, he may not have gotten away with it. Remember - California is an "at-will" state, meaning you can be fired at any time for no reason.
Mattice said the book is about taking control yourself, because the human resources department may not necessarily intervene.
"I think a lot of people go into H.R. and they kind of cry the way I did," Mattice said. "H.R. people are solution oriented, so there's a whole chapter in there about how to talk to H.R. in a way that they will take your side."
Some other lessons her book offers include using nonverbal communication skills to show the bully you aren't intimidated - shoulders square, feet forward, eye contact. Also, she gives tips on being assertive toward the bully in a professional way.
"My biggest piece of advice for anybody is to let them know that they do have options," Mattice said. "They have to make the decision to take charge of the situation."
Mattice co-authored the book with E.G. Sebastian, a North Carolina resident who she met on Linked-In.