Bullying in the Workplace

Most recently in the media, the news covered a story on a young boy who was subjected to bullying by his peers. Unfortunately, due to the lack of safety and protection from the school administration the end results were saddening – one dead, one seriously hurt, and another with a future behind bars. The bullied young boy possibly couldn’t endure anymore and stabbed his bullying classmate to death. Usually in these cases, the victim takes their own life – but either turnout is ever usually good.

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Although bullying is most prevalent in educational institutions, there are many cases of workplace bullying. Here are some ways to deal:

When the Bully is a Manager: In this case, you may not see the common signs such as yelling and/or physical contact. It can be a little more difficult to see with the naked eye. So what do you do when you’ve been informed that this is going on? First off, you  might want to take into account that the person has no idea that they are being abrasive and/or rough (even if they are aware). With this approach, you aren’t placing blame. You’re making a suggestion to improve on management style. If it is a matter of communication, you can suggest using a softer or positive approach because people in general are more receptive to such cues.  Employees like to feel appreciated so good management skills ca have a positive affect on performance, retention, and even productivity.

When the Bully is an Employee: So common! Usually, you need to drag HR in for this one. The employee needs to be disciplined and get a refresher on “workplace bullying” (if a policy doesn’t exist – one should be put into place, although it’s not necessary but it defines expectations). Start off with a verbal, then a written, and finally termination if neither of the former works out.

Speaking with victims of Violence or Bullying: An employers reaction to workplace bullying most go beyond disciplinary and training of the aggressor. The victim might still be afraid and further worried, especially if the aggressor was terminated. Employers should take steps to ensure that such acts no longer exist in the workplace. Follow-up meetings with the victim and/or the aggressor can be helpful when monitoring the situation. Inform the victim that they can speak with you at anytime and let them know that they have your full support if need be.

I once worked with a bully manager. It was really bad. They were the type of person who made you angry very easily. Jokingly, my coworkers and I used to say that they breathe fire. Luckily, the CEO saw the kind of person that they were and dismissed them from their position. To be bullied and hating to go to work or school isn’t a good feeling and normally doesn’t have a good outcome, particularly if it isn’t addressed early on. Be kind!