When you hear the word bully, does it conjure up images of an over-sized, seventh grade punk stealing licorice from a fifth grader? Probably not, especially if you are an adult who faces workplace bullying. To you, the two instances of bullying are very different. One would think that bullying ends after grade school, and especially in certain atmospheres like the workplace. If it had ended, there would be no such phrase as ‘workplace bullying’, nor would there be a need for the Workplace Bullying Institute.
What is the Definition of Workplace Bullying
The Workplace Bulling Institute, defines workplace bullying as: Repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:
- Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or
- Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or
- Verbal abuse
What Forms Does Workplace Bullying Take
Workplace bullying can often involve interactions with those who are in a position of power. The target of the bullying often has feelings of defenselessness, injustice, and indignity.
Here are a few ways which one might experience bullying in the workplace:
- Public humiliation
- Invalid criticism
- Attacked by shouting
- Exclusion from events
- Baseless blame
- Singled out and treated differently
- Attacked with profanity
- Unrealistic deadlines
- Deliberately impeding work.
- Withholding information or providing wrong information
If you are uncertain as to whether you are experiencing bullying, use the “reasonable person” test. Ask yourself if most people would consider the action in question as unacceptable.
How Does One Deal with Workplace Bullying
Stopping a bully at work takes a certain level of courage, and the ability to set boundaries. Here are some steps you can take.
Determine What You Will and Will Not Tolerate
Once the bully exceeds your work boundaries, tell the bully so.
- Describe the bully’s behavior.
- Tell the bully how the behavior affects your work.
- Tell the bully they crossed the line and you will not accept their behavior any longer.
Confront the unacceptable behavior.
- Point out the unacceptable behavior to the bully and walk away.
Document the behavior.
- If it’s an email, save it. Any other personal communications, write down what transpired, the language used, the date, and the time.
Inform HR or your manager.
- If setting boundaries does not work, take the episodes you documented to someone who can help you.
You Are Not Alone
Key findings from the 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute’s survey revealed:
- 27 percent: Those who have direct or past experience with abusive work conduct.
- Bosses compose the largest segment of bullies.
- 72 percent of employees defend or rationalize bullying.
Do not ignore the workplace bully. It is unacceptable for a co-worker to put that type of pressure and stress on someone who is simply looking to work for a living. Do not delay in taking action. If your action falls on deaf ears, perhaps it is time to scan the classifieds.