Bullying is big news. We read stories about children and teenagers making life a living hell for someone on their bus, in their school or on their team. Verbal abuse often morphs into physical abuse and the abused individual, well, sometimes, they reach a point at which they can no longer withstand the pressure and they act out as well, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Yes, we all know about bullying and how it can impact children and young adults but what we don’t hear much about is bullying in the workplace and the effect it has on the victim as well as on the rest of the office.
So what’s the definition of a bully anyway?
To use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
“a local man was bullied into helping them”
So is this starting to resonate? Can you think of someone now or in your past who was, in fact, an office bully? Based on some informal conversations that I’ve had about the topic, I bet that you can.
Here’s a few ways in which workplace bullying manifests itself:
· Disrespectful comments
· Excessive criticism
· Workload overload
· Setting up a person to fail by withholding critical information
· Talking behind someone’s back
Having a bully in the office can impact the entire company and it is imperative to take action before the negativity escalates.
· Address the issue head-on. The situation will not go away by itself. Practicing avoidance will only exacerbate an already difficult situation.
· Look closely at the reasons that may be causing the bullying. Is there something in the workplace that is fueling the behavior? This may include excess competition, pressure, poor communications and other such situations that can prompt bullying. Once identified, take steps to minimize or eliminate the underlying causes.
· Encourage open communication between employees so that potential areas of concern can be brought into the open and solved well before the issue gets more complicated. If necessary consider working with a consultant that focuses on interoffice communications and stress management.
Office bullying can undermine a company’s growth and profitability. If you don’t take action you are contributing and not solving the situation.