Bullying doesn’t necessarily take place when someone gets offended. After all, in today’s world, “offended” often means “have a different point of view.” Because different opinions exist to describe seemingly simple situations, it’s important to understand what bullying is. The Tim Field Foundation defines bullying as conduct that cannot be objectively justified by a reasonable code of conduct, and whose likely or actual cumulative effect is to threaten, undermine, constrain, humiliate or harm another person or their property, reputation, self-esteem, self-confidence or ability to perform.
The Workplace Bullying Institute calls it repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more people of an employee: abusive conduct which is verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation, work interference, sabotage, or a combination of any or all. Incivility or disrespect are more gentle synonyms for bullying, while horizontal violence and lateral violence refer to mistreatment from fellow coworkers or managers and supervisors.
Now let’s define another half dozen terms so you can tell if you’re being bullied. Actually, that’s not necessary because even when we couldn’t define it (probably around kindergarten), we’ve all known when we’ve been treated unfairly. As busy adults, sometimes we need to slow down to fully comprehend a hostile work situation. It’s more subtle because no one is throwing dodgeballs at your head and stealing lunch money.
Are you being bullied? Bullying takes on many forms in the workplace and signs and
symptoms vary. All of a “sudden” is your work not good enough? Are you accused of incompetence despite a history of objective excellence? Do you find yourself feeling sick to your stomach the night before work or obsess about work on your days off? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in a bullying situation. Tell us your experiences in the comments. We’ll explain what do do next in a later post, but besides our website, the Workplace Bullying Institute is a wonderful reference.
A Peculiar First Blog Post
This isn’t conventional. Normally, websites launch with vision statements, enthusiastic projections arching from today to the glorious future, moving personal stories, or at least a professional list of how indispensable they are. Instead, here’s a strange picture.
The truth is, some of us never grow up. I haven’t, obviously, but I’m referring to bullying behaviors not much different from picking on the weirdest kid in dodge ball. Unfortunately, knowing how to deal with these playground issues is much harder as adults. The bell won’t ring to signal the end of recess or PE. Retirement is a lot farther away than graduation from the sixth grade, especially if you find yourself constantly biting your tongue or bravely defending yourself from perceived attacks. So, what’s the best response?
Getting some friends together and beating up the bully would be hard to explain at your next job interview. Besides, responding with similar behavior would be visibly hypocritical. We can’t really tell the teachers about the problem, and there’s a reason one of our taglines here at BEHAVE Wellness is “Human Resources That Won’t Tell on You.”
What weapons do you use to fight bullying, targeting, and sabotage? Let me know in the comments–you might even find a satire story there based on the idea of basing work decisions on childish games. Even more formidable than a slightly deflated dodge ball (those sting more, you know) is knowledge. Know your policies, rights, and who you can trust. Find helpful resources such as the one you’re reading now, and get to know yourself. What makes you tick and what ticks you off? Conquering self-bullying tactics and toxic emotions is pivotal. Even if we’re only good at catching, or throwing, or dodging the ball, remember that recess is supposed to be fun, even in the corporate world.
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