Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Typically, when we hear the word bullying our mind will unconsciously drift to children and teenagers. However, bullying between adults is becoming more and more common. Workplace bullying is characterized as repeated, unwanted, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, undermine; or which create a risk to the health or safety of the employee(s). Although, workplace bullying can occur between co-workers that are in the same or similar positions bullying is more likely to occur between supervisee and supervisor. Bullying in the workplace often involves an abuse or misuse of power and authority. Bullying behavior can lead to increased frustration, anxiety, feelings of defenselessness/powerlessness, resentment, self-esteem issues, and confusion. Bullying is different from aggression. Whereas aggression may involve a single act, bullying involves repeated attacks against an individual or group creating an on-going pattern of dysfunctional or otherwise maladaptive behavior. Workplace bullying can instigated by between all different types of workers, i.e., coworkers, supervisors, contract workers, labor representatives, etc.
It is important to note some bullying situations involve employees bullying their peers, rather than persons in a supervisory role bullying persons they supervise. Bullying in the workplace can appear differently than all other types of bullying as it can appear as overly constructive criticism, micromanaging, etc.
Workplace Bullying Includes:
Crude jokes often at the expense of another
Unwarranted or invalid criticism
Blame without factual justification
Being treated differently than everyone else
Targeted for vulgar language
Exclusion or social isolation
Being shouted at or being humiliated
Excessive monitoring or micro-managing
Being given work unrealistic deadlines
Gossiping or spreading misleading information about
Persons that are target for bullying in the workplace often struggle with feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, resentment, and even PTSD. No one wants to work in an environment that is hostile, degrading, or condescending, especially if we spend most of our day, most of our lives for that matter at work. Most of us anticipate there will be conflict and challenges at work, however, the challenges and conflict should not be an ongoing exchange with our coworker or supervisor. Bullying at work can cause those being bullied to question their own competencies, career choice, and longevity within the company.
Unfortunately, bullying in the workplace not only affects the person being bullied by the organization he or she works for as well. Bullying not only brings down the moral of the targeted individual but places the company in the position of deciding how to address the problem, i.e., relating a staff member to a sister agency, another department, replacing a staff member, increased cost as a result of training new and current employees about bullying, work effort being displaced as staff cope with bullying incidents, potential legal action and loss/tarnish of company reputation.
Helpful Tips To Address Workplace Bullying:
Identify and understand the difference between workplace bullying, random lapse in judgement, or ineffective/inappropriate management style.
Acknowledge the pink elephant in the room. If you feel comfortable talking to your workplace bully then it would be helpful to let them know the behavior is inappropriate, the jokes are hurtful rather than funny, and how it makes you feel when you are put down or the butt of crude jokes.
Recognize bullying behavior is not about you, but it is about control. You do not have to be controlled by someone else.
If you are comfortable talking to your bully, let him/her know how you feel about their behavior or comments.
Document bullying behavior (dates, times, locations)
Report the behavior to personnel if it continues.
Follow proper protocols to ensure safety and an appropriate resolution to the problem is achieved.
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