01 February 2013
So much concern lately about bullying has been brought to our attention, I thought this article was timely and informative starting with the definition of workplace bullying. Next month I will put part 2 in this newsletter. Meanwhile, if you care to read more information please go to: www.Overcombullying.com.
By Latricia Wilson
1. Definition of Workplace Bullying
The nature of workplace bullying is similar to childhood bullying. Just like childhood bullying, workplace bullying is the tendency of individuals or groups to use aggressive or unreasonable behavior against each other. The only difference between workplace bullying and childhood bullying is that the abuse occurs in the workplace rather than a school playground. Workplace bullies are motivated by selfishness, insecurity and a desire to advance themselves while sacrificing other people’s careers and financial stability in the process.
2. Forms of Workplace Bullying & Tactics
There are different forms of workplace bullying, some of which are noticeable and other forms that go unnoticed by co-workers and upper level management but are just as damaging to an individual such as:
There are certain tactics workplace bullies use to control another colleague, or to force a colleague to resign or be terminated. Commonly used tactics are social ostracism, and character assassination.
In the workplace social ostracism is when coworkers or upper management intentionally exclude individuals or ignore individuals or emotionally withdraw. Social ostracism is acted out by not making eye contact, not talking, and not listening. Another very damaging workplace bullying tactic used is character assassination.
Character assassination is more damaging to an individual because it is not a tactic that could simply be ignored by victims. Character assassination is acted out by workplace bullies in attempts to tarnish a person’s reputation. When an individual is seeking to assassinate another individual’s character they may do so by deliberately spreading false information about another colleague in the workplace. When someone’s character has been tarnished they could experience being rejected by family, community and workplace coworkers. An individual that has experienced character assassination may even lose respect from their colleagues in the workplace. Other tactics that are commonly used in the workplace to bully other individuals are:
The Bully in the Workplace
Individuals that bully in the workplace such as colleagues, supervisors, and client/customers act out in ways to intimidate or humiliate another individual. A workplace bully will throw a tantrum in public or make inappropriate comments to their target just to break the target down or somehow expose the target’s weaknesses. The harsh truth about workplace bullying is that bullying is not always acted out by one employee or one manager. Many times more than one manager or co-worker may bully another employee at the same time. Victims are sometimes reluctant to report their bosses because they are led to believe that their bosses are out of control.
Individuals who bully in the work place can be a co-worker, manager or client. Because of the roles these individuals play in the workplace environment they do all bully in the same manner.
Outlined below are some ways these individuals bully:
An individual is most vulnerable while being bullied by a client in the workplace, because there is no way a client can be reprimanded for bullying an employee (unless management has enough integrity to “fire” customers that abuse their employees).
Bullies that are customers find enjoyment in causing some employees grief, and by having the power to force that employee to deal with the harassment with a smile. Clients tend to bully more so in service environments because they know that these work environments typically hold high expectations for customer friendliness attitudes for their employees.
Five Most Common Forms of Workplace Bullying
According to the late workplace bullying awareness advocate, Tim Field, workplace bullying takes on different forms. Not all individuals will be bullied in the same manner or by the same method. Depending on the behavior of the bully, their motives for harassing their victims, and personality traits bullies may bully in several forms. The five most common forms are:
Motivations to Bully
Most incidents of bullying are motivated by the bully’s lack of self esteem rather than the specific personality trait of an individual. Many bullies find it hard to handle stress or work load of their job, so they may take their frustrations out on another colleague.
Other bullies may have personality disorders that may contribute to their tendency to bully others. Bullies often bully others because they feel threatened by a colleague that may appear to be more competent in work duties than the workplace bully. Workplace bullies may consciously or unconsciously realize that they are harassing a colleague at work.
The type of work environment and overall atmosphere at work may play a role into whether individuals bully or become victims of bullying. Hostile work environments where individuals are subjected to negative experiences on a regular basis may cause individuals to behave negatively toward each other in the work place. Some negative experiences individuals experience in hostile work environments are
How Individuals Are Affected by Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying has very negative effects on employees and the companies where such behavior is displayed and tolerated. Targets of workplace aggression generally have lower levels of well being. Some victims of workplace bullying may experience a wide range of symptoms related to stress including headaches, stomach problems, depression, sleep disturbances and eventually even suicidal and homicidal ideation.
Victims of workplace bullying typically find less satisfaction in their jobs and chosen career paths than individuals that are not bullied at work. When an individual is resentful of their job, manger, or work environment they may become cold to other colleagues at work. Individuals that are resentful of their work conditions may even be rude to clients and customers for no apparent reason at all. Employees in the hospitality service field, or have jobs that require them to service the public may not smile enough or show the type of friendly attitude towards customers that they should when they are being harassed at work. This behavior bully victims often act out, while being harassed at work can effect a company’s overall sales and likelihood to retain regular customers/clients.
Resolutions for Workplace Bullying
Even though workplace bullying behavior cannot be completely eliminated from workplace environments, it can be prevented. Some ways workplace bullying can be prevented is by