Feeling disempowered at work? You might be a workplace bullying target

Bullying concept in workplace with angry and afraid eggs charact

Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of targets by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
  • Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.

Workplace bullying is often subtle. It is:

  • Driven by perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual(s)
  • Initiated by bullies who choose targets, timing, place, and methods
  • Escalated to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily through coercion.
  • Undermining of legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself
  • Domestic violence at work where the abuser is on the payroll.

A 2014 national survey by Zogby International and the Workplace Bullying Institute found that:

  • 27% of workers have experienced workplace bullying
  • 72% of employers who received complaints about workplace bullying either ignored the problem or made it worse
  • 56% of workplace bullies are supervisors

Bullies can be managers, supervisors, co-workers, or clients.

The bully’s target is usually a capable, dedicated person. 80% of targets are women.

Common bullying behaviors

  • False accusations of mistakes and errors
  • Yelling, shouting, and screaming
  • Exclusion and “the silent treatment”
  • Withholding resources and information necessary to the job
  • Behind-the-back sabotage and defamation
  • Use of put-downs, insults, and excessively harsh criticism
  • Unreasonably heavy work demands
  • Spreading rumors and gossip
  • Making offensive jokes or comments, verbally or in writing
  • Discounting achievements and stealing credit for ideas or work
  • Disciplining or threatening job loss without reason
  • Taking away work or responsibility without cause
  • Blocking requests for training, leave or promotion
  • Pestering, spying, stalking, or tampering with personal belongings and equipment

What bullying is not

  • Enforcing workplace policies and procedures
  • Evaluating or measuring performance
  • Providing constructive feedback
  • Denying training or leave requests with good reason
  • Discussing disciplinary action in private
  • Dismissing, suspending, demoting, or reprimanding with just cause

Why bullies bully

  • Sideline someone they feel is a threat (the target)
  • Further their own agenda at the expense of others
  • Deny responsibility for their own behavior
  • Mask their lack of confidence and low self-esteem

Types of harm from which targets suffer

  • Stress disorders of all types, including anxiety
  • Shock, anger, frustration, and helplessness
  • Clinical depression or suicidal thoughts
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Loss of sleep
  • Loss of focus, confidence, morale, and productivity
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Impaired immune systems
  • Symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Destructive impact on family and personal relationships

Sources:
http://www.mahealthyworkplace.com/workplace/whatitis.html
http://www.overcomebullying.org/workplace-bullying-book.html

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One comment

  1. Gregg Morris

    Excellent information. Have been experimenting with ways to introduce students enrolled in my classes to protecting themselves in the job market. I would like to add one thing. Based on meeting with activists like Kathy Cole (http://www.allfactup.info) and what I have witnessed at like at Hunter College, City University of New York, and other places I have worked, is a management tool or is used as a management tool.

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