Skip to main content

Workplace Bullying

Bullying remains a very emotive issue.  I have a few friends who openly admit that they were bullies at school, and that they didn't mean any real harm, and were "just teasing".   Comments that people overreact, and that the victims often bring it on themselves are also made.   It is a reality that the bullied person's reaction can lead to further bullying, or their lack of reaction can move the bullies to a new target.   These former self styled bullies have grown up into nice people who are really fun to be with.   Who would have thought?

But the people I know who were bullied have not grown up nearly as undamaged.  In fact, it is my unscientific opinion, that bullies grow up to be happier and more successful than the bullied, because their sense of self is more entitled.  (Other than in the entertainment industry, where almost all of them claim that they were misfits and excluded from everything.....)

Moving from the classroom to the boardroom, what is bullying at work?

There are so many different, and subtle, ways of making people feel less than valued, that sometimes the bullied person simply feels more and more inadequate at the job, without realising that they are, in fact, being bullied.

How regularly do we hear "Everything I do is wrong!"  and it seems to be true.   There is often the perception that the bullies are senior people with power, or men who sexually harass women, another type of bullying.  

But there is the other side, too.   There are employees who use passive/aggressive behaviour, constantly making small mistakes or not checking their work, so that their line manager never feels safe using their input without double and triple checking etc.   This can impact on the relationship, making the line manager less patient, and it becomes a negative circle, where the employee feels undervalued, blames the manager for making him nervous, the manager becomes harsher in his criticism, and so it goes on.  Is there a bully in this pairing, or are they simply incompatible work partners?

Power shifts happen in relationships, and sometimes it is the person in the less formally influential or powerful role who is the bully.

The wonderful (in my opinion) Ellen de Generes finishes each show with the words "Be kind to one another" and bullying is very much the opposite of that.  During the next few weeks, I will try to unpack what is bullying, what it isn't and how do we introduce more kindness into the workplace, without sacrificing productivity, growth and effective business practice.


References & Links

Popular posts from this blog

Resignation - keep building relationships

Resignation – avoid burning those bridges It has been a great pleasure working with a colleague like you. Now, you are off to your next big challenge! Good luck and farewell!
Isn’t that what we all want to hear when we leave?  We were appreciated and we will be missed.
The need for all parties to maintain professional conduct in the event of resignation is critical, particularly now when we are working within an unsettled socio-economic climate. Employees should avoid damaging relationships, and employers need to adopt a neutral approach and ensure that there are policies and processes that enable the separation to be objectively handled.  For example: ·A formal resignation letter is required·A formal acceptance of resignation is issued confirming any special conditions·An exit interview takes place·Handovers are planned and executed
Our HR team advise those who resign their position to adhere to a few golden rules. Failure to do so could harm whatever bonds have been formed at the workpla…

It's Not Your Fault, But..

It’s Not Your Fault, But…
Its’s not mine, either. When something goes wrong, whether at work or home, most people immediately start casting around for somebody to blame. Over the weekend, I was reading and drinking a cup of coffee which was perched on the arm of the couch.  I do this daily, and have never spilled it.   My daughter came into the room, I put my reader down next to me and we started chatting.  A little later, I picked the reader up, turned to my coffee, and knocked it over.  Something in my expression caused her to ask whether it was her fault.  Of course, it wasn’t, but a mean, small part of me was thinking, well, no, but if you hadn’t come in the room…  And she was kind enough to help me clear it up!
If that lamp post wasn’t there If that faster person wasn’t in the race If the traffic light hadn’t turned red at just that moment If we hadn’t hired Joe, I would have got the promotion If, if, if….. We are very quick to accept the “if” when it is about us, and much slower to do so…

It's Not My Job

It’s Not My Job
Assuming that there are reasons for saying this: 1.It’s not your job and is totally is outside of your skill set 2.It’s not in your KPIs and you don’t want to do it 3.You believe you are being exploited and want to draw a line as to what you will and won’t do. Outside your skill set This is reasonable and there could be many scenarios where this is appropriate
·Where there is a safety or special licence requirement to do the job eg driving a forklift truck
·Where there is a formal qualification like giving legal advice
·Where additional qualifications are required as in a medical doctor without surgical qualifications or experience


Not in my KPIs This response could be perceived as a lot more negative, not to mention career limiting. If there is a good reason why you can’t step outside your pure job description, share that immediately.  ·“I would love to be able to help, however, I need to complete this project by 5 pm today and I am out of the office all day tomorrow at our larg…