Workplace Bullying

We are always hearing about bullying of children and young people in school and on social media. I was very surprised to find that workplace bullying is a growing problem in businesses today. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, up to a third of workers may be the victims of workplace bullying. The New York Times found that about 60% of workplace bullies are men and they tend to bully male and female employees equally. Female bullies, however, are more likely to bully other females. Adults are more likely to use verbal bullying as opposed to physical bullying

What exactly is workplace bullying? It is when one person or group of people in a workplace single out another person for unreasonable, embarrassing or intimidating treatment. Usually the bully is a co-worker who is insecure or immature. Workplace bullying can also be a result of a company culture that allows or even encourages this kind of negative behavior. The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person and make himself/herself the dominant adult.

Workplace bullying can take many forms according to Washington State Department of Labor and Industries:

• Shouting or swearing at an employee or otherwise verbally abusing him or her

• One employee being singled out for unjustified criticism or blame

• An employee being excluded from company activities or having his or her work contributions purposefully ignored

• Language or actions that embarrass or humiliate an employee

• Practical jokes, especially if they occur repeatedly to the same person

Keep in mind that workplace-bullying can easily cross the line and become harassment. Harassment is illegal in the United States and gives the victims legal rights to stop the behavior.

There are several types of adult bullies and if you review their characteristics, they will be easier to identify:

1) Narcissistic Adult Bully: This type is self-centered and does not share empathy with others. He or she seems to feel good about him or herself, but in reality, must continue to put others down

2) Impulsive Adult Bully: They are spontaneous and don’t plan their bullying. This adult bully has a hard time restraining his or her behavior.

3) Verbal Adult Bully: This type of bully may start rumors about the victim or use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate the other person. The emotional and psychological impacts of verbal bullying can result in reduced job performance and depression.

4) Secondary Adult Bully: This is someone who joins in so that he or she does not actually become a victim. This type of bully may feel bad about what they are doing but are more concerned about protecting themselves.

Adult bullies were often either bullies as children or bullied as children, according to www.bullyingstatistics.org. This might help you have a little understanding about why they do what they do.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that workplace bullying could be a result of company culture. Look around. Your Company may not purposefully support bullying. But if there were a problem, would you take a problem of bullying seriously? Would you look for ways to solve the problem or just ignore it? You need to have a policy for zero tolerance toward workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying is bad for business. Low productivity and a high turnover of employees are just two examples. Again, look around and see what you may have been missing. Talk to your supervisors or managers and see if they have noticed anything. This is another way to elevate you above your competition.

Happy Thanksgiving!