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I am partnering with some friends of mine to address the local Salvation Army this month and we are focusing on “bullying”. My friend is very passionate about the topic and I agreed to focus on “bullying” in the workplace. So I thought during my research why not make it a blog post as well.
I think most of us think of bullying as something we had to deal with during our childhood and even into high school. I was fortunate enough not to be exposed to bullies throughout life or maybe I just don’t really look at those situations as bullying. I know it is a very real problem, all I am saying, for me, I didn’t have to deal with that and no one should.
There are all types of bullies and in every part of life. This post will focus only on workplace bullying. According to a study by CareerBuilder.com, 28% of United States workers have experienced workplace bullying. 1 out of every 4 of your co-workers have dealt with or is dealing with a workplace bully right now! By gender, women are more likely to experience workplace bullying, with roughly a third reporting such incidents, compared with 22 percent of men.
28% of workers earning less than $50,000 a year say they have been bullied, versus 19 percent for people making more than that amount. According to CareerBuilder.com, bullying isn’t isolated to lower-wage jobs. 27% of managers, directors, vice presidents and other workers in higher-level positions have been subject to bullying.
According to the survey, 19% of those bullied, left that place of employment. That is a costly figure to the employer to have to recruit and train for that vacant position.
Here are the most common forms of bullying, according to the survey, along with the percentage of employees who reported it:
- Falsely accused of mistakes the worker didn’t make (43%)
- Comments were ignored, dismissed or not acknowledged (41%)
- A different set of standards or policies was used for the worker (37%)
- Gossip was spread about the worker (34%)
- Constantly criticized by the boss or co-workers (32%)
- Belittling comments were made about the person’s work during meetings (29%)
- Yelled at by the boss in front of co-workers (27%)
- Purposely excluded from projects or meetings (20%)
- Credit for the person’s work was stolen (20%)
- Picked on for race, gender, appearance or other personal attributes (20%)
So with all that being said, what do you do to end bullying in the workplace?
- Directly ask the bully to stop. This may seem foolish since the bully presumably knows what he or she is doing, but that’s not always the case. Some people have no concept of how their actions affect other. Speak up.
- Go to the boss. If the bullying is at the hands of a co-worker or someone from a different department, your boss has a moral and professional obligation, if not necessarily a legal one, to put a stop to it. Try to be clear and unemotional in reporting the behavior. For instance: “Jane often says rude things about my performance during meetings. Can you speak to her about her behavior? It’s demoralizing and damaging to the whole team.”
- And if the bully is your boss? You can go to human resource or to the boss’s boss, but be prepared to be ignored. If your boss is meeting her performance goals, HR may not care how you feel. If you can get your co-workers to come with you and present the information as a united force, it may help.
- Speak up when you observe bullying — even if it’s not about you. Bullies often effectively coerce others to go along with their bad behavior. Don’t acquiesce. Every time you see a co-worker badmouthing someone, speak up. Every time you hear someone lying or attempting to spread malicious gossip, confront it. Defend the victims.
- If a company won’t stop bullying, consider looking for a new job. When you find it, leave at the first opportunity, and don’t look back.
Every part of society has people we would rather not deal or have to, but that isn’t realistic. There will always be difficult people and situations in our working lives. We all must tolerate a certain amount of unpleasant “stuff” in the workplace, but we DO NOT have to tolerate harassment! Every person is different and every workplace is different. There is no easy solutions on how to stop a bully, but one thing is for sure, you can control your thought process, how you react, how you think. Try those steps listed above and if that doesn’t work….MOVE ON! Life is way too short to miserable at work!!!!
Thank you for posting, Frank! Very insightful and well-written. I’ve been a recipient of workplace bullying and I believe the bullies know they’re bullies but don’t care. It seemed to be that way with the bullies I dealt with. They seemed so proud of themselves.
I’m lucky though. I managed to stay ahead of them because I knew what to expect. I ended up walking away from the job confidently and on my own terms! But sadly, many others who were bullied along with me were not so fortunate! Thank you for bringing to light an issue that is still, even today, widely ignored and needs to be addressed.
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