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 or through coercion.
- Undermining of legitimate business interests when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself
- Similar to Domestic Violence at work where the abuser is on the payroll.
David Yamada, Law Professor and MA Healthy Workplace Bill Co-Coordinator for the Workplace Bullying Institute:
Who are bullies?
- Bullies can be managers, subordinates, supervisors, co-workers, or clients.
- The bully’s target is usually a capable, dedicated person.
- 80% of targets are women.
A 2014 national survey by 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
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 non-verbally
- 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
- Lack of social and emotional skills
- Masking their lack of confidence and low self-esteem
- Sidelining someone they feel is a threat (the target)
- Furthering their own agenda at the expense of others
- Denying responsibility for their own behavior
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
- Impaired immune systems
- Symptoms consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Destructive impact on family and personal relationships
The information above was referenced from the Workplace Bullying Institute a leader in the effort to stop workplace bullying and create laws protecting workers since 1997.