Gain the vernacular needed to talk about workplace bullying and define it for others.
- Many targets of workplace bullying find it difficult to describe their situation to others. They know they're bullied but helping others see that can be difficult. All they can point to is that interacting with this person is emotionally draining. I thought it would be helpful to provide a nice, clear definition so here it goes. Workplace bullying is repeated abuse that creates a psychological power imbalance and results in severe psychological and physical consequences for targets and coworkers and in enormous monetary damage to an organization's bottom line.
Phew, let's break that down, shall we? First, bullying is repeated. Unless the behavior is really egregious, a one time angry outburst isn't bullying. If it's happening once a week on the other hand, that's bullying. Also know that bullying often comes more frequent and more aggressive over time. Second, bullying is abuse. In fact, researchers from all around the world easily compare bullying to domestic violence.
Targets are trapped in a relationship with an abuser and find it hard to get out of the cycle. Third, bullying creates a psychological power imbalance. There's initial incident of aggression where the bully rolls his eyes or fires off a nasty email and for whatever reason, the target doesn't speak out. Over time, the bully engages in another behavior and another and another and eventually, this power imbalance grows like a crescendo. It becomes too late for the target to stand up for herself and the bully comes to realize they have power.
Fourth, the consequences of bullying are very real. There is so, so much research from around the world indicating that people who are bullied and witnesses experience anxiety, stress, depression and even PTSD. Of course, stress causes physical problems such as headaches and even heart disease to name a few. Finally, all of this is costly for the organization. People are distracted by the bullying, their productivity and quality goes down and meanwhile turnover goes up.
Customer service suffers as people disconnect from clients and employees are not engaged or loyal to the organization. I hope that this has provided you with a clear definition of what workplace bullying looks like and ways that it can impact employees and individuals in and out of an organization.
- Defining workplace bullying
- Reframing the situation
- Building your confidence
- Assertively standing up for yourself in person and in emails
- Changing your body language
- Gathering documentation
- Communicating with HR