Workplace bullying is any unwanted attention, attacks, suggestions, retaliation, humiliation, belittling, condescending behavior, or anything else that makes an individual feel unwanted, threatened, demeaned, insulted, or less than their worth.
Individuals who report workplace bullying incidents - at times - receive negative feedback from others (e.g., peers, managers, etc.) who can offer assistance or protection, such as: "You need to toughen up" or "You need to develop thicker-skin". These types of responses aren't acceptable for anyone who reports harassment and requests assistance.
On-going harassment and abuse can cause even the toughest individuals to question their self-worth. The bottom-line is that nobody should be caused to think or feel less about themselves due to another's attacks: verbal, physical, or psychological.
Drivers of workplace bullying are often related to:
- Culture - an organization's beliefs about the way its policies, procedures, or standards will be implemented, administered, and enforced;
- Attitude - individual or organizational beliefs about the way an incident should be addressed or thoughts and feelings about something that occurs within an environment;
- Atmosphere - permitted behavioral standards within an organization;
- Behavior - individual, organizational, or societal actions or activities;
- Situation - an event that occurs at a specific moment.
If workplace bullying drivers aren't properly managed, then workplace bullying can easily become rampant. Therefore, any workplace bullying incident(s) should be addressed, reported, and resolved quickly. If not, an organization risks workplace bullying incidents becoming a part of its acceptable and permissible behavioral standards (e.g. customs, norms, or standards) if nobody identifies, addresses, or reports these incidents. As a result, these attributes become part of an organization's culture.
These points are significant as individuals frequently learn through observation and will often use others behaviors as reference points to validate positive or negative behavior.
Anyone can be an advocate for change through communication to workplace bullies that their actions or behaviors aren't acceptable, aren't wanted, won't be tolerated, and will also be reported. Furthermore, bullying incidents should be documented to create a written record; otherwise, unreported incidents cannot establish a potential pattern of behavior. These types of responses create an active defense against unacceptable, disrespectful, and demeaning behavior.
It only takes a single individual to communicate to a bully that 'this isn't acceptable behavior' to begin a process of change, which will also serve notice to other workplace bullies that this type of behavior won't be tolerated.
Everyone has a responsibility to collectively work together to prevent workplace bullying to ensure that bullies don't win and targets don't unnecessarily have to deal with abuse or suffer alone.
Additional information on workplace bullying can be obtained in Mr. Young's solution-oriented book "Bullies...They're In Your Office, Too: Could you be one?" or his mini-book "Management Spotlight: Workplace Bullying".
This post originally appeared on S. L. Young's blog on his website at: www.slyoung.com