In a previous working environment, I was asked my opinion. Specifically, how would I handle a particular situation of pervasive workplace bullying.
While crafting my response, several other colleagues indicated they too had experienced workplace difficulties with bullies, and expressed a desire for the environment to change. During the ensuing discussionit was discovered that:
- We each had differing definitions and perceptions to describe “workplace bullying”
- Several colleagues felt powerless to intervene when bullying occurs in the workplace for fear of retribution from both the bully and management
- Some workers had a perception that bullying is part of the organization culture. Several co-workers stated that immediate management took little or no action when bullying occurred in departmental meetings.
EXAMPLES OF WORKPLACE BULLYING
The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) defines examples workplace bullying as “any negative behavior that demonstrates a lack of regard for other workers. This can include a vast number of disrespectful behaviors including:
- Purposely withholding business information
- Overruling decisions without a rationale
- Sabotaging team efforts
- Demeaning others
- Verbal intimidation…”
Ultimately, the discussion circled back to the “how” question. Specifically, how should the perceived workplace bully be handled? How should a colleague respond when being bullied and still maintain their employment?
“The fact is, we still have bullies, and we still have victims who are trained not to stand up for themselves.”
~ Joe Wurzelbacher
In fact, in recent years, bullying has become an issue throughout the workplace.
According to a recent survey, more than 30% of workers indicated they have experienced bullying. In Utah, a bill recently passed requires state employees to complete training regarding abusive contact in the workplace. In California, anti-workplace bullying training content must be included in state mandated supervisor training. Several resources exist to provide training to adult workers how to handle bullying in the workplace, including:
- Preventing Workplace Bullying course
- Confronting Workplace Bullying Training for Supervisors (presentation)
- Workplace Bullying Training (video)
Other resources include the HR department and/or the Learning and Development department within the organization. Ultimately, during our specific team conversation concluded without a firm plan of action, but an agreement that each person was now aware that an action existed, and a commitment to be more respectful during individual interactions in the future.
Possibly, this small step of team collaboration and behavior expectation will cause a positive chain reaction within the workplace environment.
updated 12/15/15; 3/14/2017