When you think of bullying, you probably think of that mean little kid in third grade that harassed children on the playground. But bullying is a serious problem in adult life as well, especially in the workplace.
Workplace bullying is a tricky issue because it’s often more difficult to detect in an office environment where hierarchies already exist based on job titles. Adults are capable of many more manipulative bullying techniques than a third grader. When does a boss go too far? Where do you draw the line?
In reality, anybody can be a bully — not just the people with power. Also, 60% of all bullies are men but women are more often victims of bullying from female bullies (71%) than from male bullies (46%). According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 31% of all bullying is men-on-men, and 29% is women on women.
How do you know there’s bullying in the office? WBI describes bullying as “a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved.” Bullying involves consistent verbal abuse, offensive behaviors that are intimidating or humiliating, and sabotage that interferes with work.
A recent study by Hershcovis and Barling shows that bullying can have more of a negative impact on a company than can sexual harassment. Unlike bullying, sexual harassment is illegal, so victims may be less likely to blame themselves and more willing to blame the offender. And bullying doesn’t only impact the victim — it can change the atmosphere of the entire office through reduced employee productivity and lowered morale, higher turnover and absenteeism, and increased compensation claims.
What do you do if you or someone you know is being bullied? WBI offers three steps: first, name the problem and recognize that you are a victim. Next, take some time off to recoup and gain control over your physical and emotional self. Also take this time to research, gather evidence about the bullying, and assess your options. Finally, expose the bully. For more information on workplace bullying, check out: http://www.workplacebullying.org/
Have you had to deal with a bully? Do you think you’ve ever been one yourself? Do you have any suggestions about how to handle bullying in the workplace? Sign the petition to end workplace bullying and protect employers’ rights.
Also, check out the web documentary, “There Oughta Be a Law” by award winning documentary filmmaker Beverly Peterson.