BARSTOW, CA, UNITED STATES
“Workplace violence: Any act of violent behavior, threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, bullying, verbal or non-verbal threat, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at or outside the work site.” – DoDI 1438.06, Jan. 16, 2014
BARSTOW, Calif. - Bullies have been a fact of life for many, and it doesn’t help that many bullies are considered popular or likeable, even by supervisors who look the other way and blame the abusive behavior on “personality differences.”
The Workplace Bullying Institute (www.WorkplaceBullying.org) states that bullying “is abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; sabotage which prevents work from getting done, or verbal abuse.”
While 61 percent of the targets of bullying lost their jobs, only 15 percent of the bullies did. A WBI survey also found that three-quarters of employers “deny, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend” bullying.
Characteristics of workplace bullying:
- Bullies enjoy feeling powerful, especially when the target doesn’t speak up.
-Bullies are threatened by the potential success of others, and don’t want their target to outshine them or reveal their shortcomings. They may downplay or deny the target’s accomplishments, take credit for the work of others, and intimidate with insults and verbal put downs.
- They may engage in direct harmful action or covert sabotage, such as withholding resources necessary to do one’s job. Bullying may also escalate to involve others who side with the bully, and they may be encouraged to stop working, talking, or socializing with the target. These actions jeopardize the mission when bullies’ personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
- Who is the target? Generally it’s someone who poses a threat to the perpetrator, whether real or imagined. The WBI study “confirmed that targets appear to be the veteran and most skilled person in the workgroup.”
The website continues, “Targets are independent. They refuse to be subservient. When targets take steps to preserve their dignity, their right to be treated with respect, bullies escalate their campaigns of hatred and intimidation to wrest control of the target’s work. Targets are often those who have ‘a desire to help, heal, teach, develop and nurture others.”
Many targets seek counseling for the emotional damage they suffer. “Abuse fosters anxiety, clinical depression and, often posttraumatic stress,” states the WBI. “Belief in one’s competency has been shattered. The lies told about targets can lead to undeserved self-blame.”
Often, bullies are liked by their bosses and are rewarded for their behavior instead of being punished. “Bullies must experience negative consequences for harming others. Punishment must replace promotions.”
Ultimately, it is the boss who is responsible for workplace bullying. “They put people in harm’s way and they can provide safety by undoing the culture which may have inadvertently allowed bullying to flourish,” states the WBI.
To add insult to injury, complaints can result in retaliation or reprisal, such as taking away rights or status.
Unfortunately, bullying is only illegal if it can be defined as harassment.
According to the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”
Dealing with workplace bullies:
*Stay calm and rational to diffuse the situation.
*Don’t blame yourself. It’s not about you; it’s about the bully.
*Do your best work – the bully’s behavior will seem more justified if you aren’t doing your best work.
*Build a support network and seek help through the Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program. DONCEAP will pay for a private counselor who will keep your conversations confidential.
*Document everything but don’t leave it in the office. Write down what happened and who witnessed it. Keep emails and notes. Educate yourself about workplace law.
*Do your best to manage the situation. You may need to seek employment elsewhere, or be prepared for a difficult fight with the bully and your employer.
For more information:
||BARSTOW, CA, US
This work, National Bullying Prevention Month: Workplace Bullying, by Cynthia McIntyre, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.