What is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying is deliberate, disrespectful, and repeated behavior toward another individual (the target) in the workplace. Most commonly these repeated acts of workplace aggression are passive, indirect, and nonphysical. What these acts have in common is that they harm both the targeted individual and the organization.
Who does a bully target?
Targets are usually independent, talented, empathetic, fair-minded, and well-liked people. Targets usually have a high-tolerance for difficult situations and do not play political games. Therefore, targets are caught off guard by the bully's tactics and are often in denial about the bully's motives.
Why do bullies bully?
Generally, bullying is rooted in envy and deliberately designed to suppress and control the target. Bullies are workplace politicians and do not usually torment everyone. A bully can be the target's boss, peer, or subordinate.
Bullying can be direct and aggressive, but most commonly bullying behavior is passive, indirect, and nonphysical. Top bullying tactics are:
- Exclusion from meeting or information, "icing out" or use of the "silent treatment"
- Insults and put-downs, directly or through innuendos, implications, and "jokes"
- Unfairly blaming for errors
- Unreasonable job demands
- Criticism of ability, directly or indirectly
- Threatening job loss
- Discounting/ denial of accomplishments
- Yelling, screaming
- Stealing credit
- Lack of clarity in tasks, expectation or job related details.
What are the Effects?
Workplace bullying negatively affects the organization, the target, and employee bystanders who observe this hostile treatment. A targeted individual begins to question his or her competency because of the bully's deliberate attacks and will likely dread going to work. This lowers the targets ability to perform at his or her highest potential. A targeted individual may also experience harm to his or her health and social lives through anxiety, stress, depression, and related illnesses as a result of the bully's actions.
The organization will likely suffer from lower productivity and decreased employee morale from either receiving or observing the disrespectful behavior. It destroys creativity and increases employee turnover.
What to do if you're being bullied
Action is the antidote. Once bullying starts it is likely to continue unless something is done to stop it.
Realize that what is occurring is not logical or deserved; you are the target of a bully. Educate yourself on bullying, protect your health, and keep a log of what is happening. Remember, you did not cause this mistreatment. Seek support from family, friends, and therapists who are empathetic and good listeners. Also, contact the Faculty and Staff Ombudsperson to help you confidentially evaluate your options.
Workplace Bullying Institute, www.workplacebullying.org
Bully Free at Work, http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com
Healthy Workplace Bill, www.healthyworkplacebill.org
Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill, www.youtube.com/user/MAHealthyWorkplace
Namie, G. & Namie, R. (2009). The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Namie, G. & Namie, R. (2011). The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes from Killing Your Organization. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.