Bullying is something we all hope not to have to deal with much beyond the eighth grade. Unfortunately, workplace bullies are a problem many people face. Unlike playground bullies who often, not always, resort to using their fists, workplace bullies generally use words and actions to intimidate their victims.
How to ID if you are being bullied
Tactics of Bullies
- Blaming the target for ‘errors’ that may not even exist
- Unreasonable job demands—heavy work loads or additional work hours
- Criticism of the target’s abilities
- Inconsistent compliance with company rules and policies
- Threats of job loss
- Insults and put-downs, sometimes publicly
- Discounting or denying a target’s accomplishments
- Exclusion of the target from information
- Yelling, swearing, name-calling and/or body language of disrespect or aggression
- Stealing credit for the target’s work
- Invalidating what the target knows to be true; fabricating ‘facts’ related to the target’s performance
- Taking away the usual workload and replacing it with menial and/or meaningless tasks
- Constant unnecessary oversight
What to do if you are being bullied
What To Do and What Not To Do for Targets
recognize that you are being bullied.
become aware of the behaviors and accept that it is not your fault.
avoid self-blame for having become a target. Bullying is about the bully, not the target.
develop a sense of emotional detachment from the bully’s behaviors.
document in writing every incident of bullying. Include the date of the incident, time, place, person or persons involved, names of witnesses and some direct quotes of what was said to you. Include examples of how the bully’s behavior negatively impacts the company’s mission and goals.
gather a support system around you…employees, friends and family.
talk to the person available in the company to help with personnel issues.
use Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to support you during this process and help maintain your self-esteem.
see your family physician for physical distress.
believe that it is your fault and that you caused the bully’s behavior.
react emotionally to the bully. Stay cool, confident and aware.
become critical of yourself and your performance…become a workplace warrior not a workplace victim.
What companies can do to stop bullying in the workplace
“Bullies—the High Cost of Aggressive Behavior”
We know that bullying happens in schools—about 2 million bullies and 2.7 million victims attend school each day across our country. The result is that about 160,000 children miss school every day because they are afraid of being attacked or intimidated by other students.
Bullies also go to work each day and the damage they do costs employers millions in employee sickness, absenteeism and lost work.
Bullying is the repeated persistent aggressive unreasonable behavior toward another person.
Bullies can be bosses, managers, co-workers, contractors—just about anyone. Over 80% of bullies are bosses or managers; 50% are men and 50% are women; 80% of targets are women.
Bullying behaviors include rudeness, intimidation, criticism, gossip, humiliation, sabotage and social ostracism.
Leaders and managers play a crucial role in the identification of both bullies and targets and have the authority to eliminate and prevent bullying behaviors. Employers must realize that to ignore or discount bullying behaviors, they are risking employee productivity, loss of good workers and opening the door to workplace violence.
Employers must commit to implementing at least these goals for a healthier workplace:
- Require respect and professional behavior in all areas of the company. Begin by having leaders and managers be the role models of appropriate behaviors.
- Design and implement a workplace policy that identifies bullying behaviors and offers steps to reporting and resolution.
- Educate everyone—managers, supervisors, Human Resources personnel, union representatives and employees about what bullying is and appropriate ways to respond.
- Treat all complaints seriously and deal with them promptly and confidentially.
- Contract with an Employee Assistance Program to help and support employees who have been bullied.
- Contract with a neutral 3rd party to help with conflict and resolve issues.
Bullying is costly for employers and their employees. Education and communication is crucial for the development of healthier companies.
Margaret Dykinga, M.Ed., RN
Holman Frazier Behavioral Health
How to Prevent Bullying in the Workplace
Sample Workplace Bullying Policy
_______________ considers workplace bullying unacceptable and will not tolerate it under any circumstances.
Workplace bullying is behavior that harms, intimidates, offends degrades or humiliates an employee, possibly in front of other employees, clients or customers. Workplace bullying may cause the loss of trained and talented employees, reduce productivity and morale and create legal risks.
_______________ believes all employees should be able to work in an environment free of bullying. Managers and supervisors must ensure employees are not bullied.
_______________ has grievance and investigation procedures to deal with workplace bullying. Any reports of workplace bullying will be treated seriously and investigated promptly, confidentially and impartially.
_______________ encourages all employees to report workplace bullying. Managers and supervisors must ensure employees who make complaints, or witnesses, are not victimized.
Disciplinary action will be taken against anyone who bullies a co-worker or employee. Discipline may involve a warning, transfer, counseling, demotion or dismissal, depending on the circumstances.
The contact person for bullying in the workplace is:
Phone Number: ________________________________________________________
Workplace Bullying Resources
Kohut, Margaret, “The Complete Guide to Understanding, Controlling and Stopping Bullies & Bullying at Work,” Atlantic Publishing Co.
Namie, Dr. Gary Dr. & Dr. Ruth, “The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job,” Sourcebooks, Inc.
Sutton, Robert, “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t,” Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, “Workplace Bullying: What Everyone Needs to Know,”
The Work Doctor, Inc., workplace bullying consultants