At some point in our lives many of us (myself included) have had some experience at the hands of a bully, be it the school yard bully or a workplace bully, but whichever way, the feelings of isolation and extreme stress can linger for many years after the event.
As a stress management coach, I see the impact that bullying creates, both for the victim but also for a company. It’s behavior that lowers company morale, result in higher turnover, lower productivity, more sick days, and that’s just for starters.
The subject of bullying is so vast that one post really could not convey all the important details and as a result I’ve broken down this subject into (what will be) 3 separate posts. These posts will take a look at what bullying is, how to spot a bully, the impact of bullying on people, am I a bully myself and what companies can do to reduce the risk of bullying within their own work environments.
What is bullying ?
Bullying is persistent, unwelcome behavior towards you either from a single person or a group, mostly by unwarranted and unnecessary criticism, constantly finding fault and nit-picking, also deliberate exclusion, isolation, being singled out, shouted at, humiliated, snide comments, excessive monitoring, and much more, in extreme cases physical bullying also takes place. Bullying can also be subtle and in many cases can slip ‘under the radar’, therefore its very important that those who manage people can learn to spot a subtle bully as well as the more ‘hard-core’ bully.
No matter what form the bullying takes it should become one of a company’s priorities to be able to identify and deal with bullying behavior.
How to Identify a Bully
Most bullies don’t act as such in front of their superiors, in many cases bullies show a ‘good side’ to managers and superiors, therefore management must rely on and listen to reports from other employees.
Complaints from employees that state an individual or group has displayed verbal abuse, physical abuse, name calling, screaming, subjected others to public humiliation, sabotage, isolation and other forms of unacceptable behavior should raise a red flag. But there are other more subtle forms of bullying to watch out for such as sarcasm, interruptions, insults, dominant behavior, body language and tone of voice.
More subtle forms of bullying can be noticed even within the board room, for example when Frank clicks his pen constantly or rolls his eyes when Jeff is speaking and only when Jeff is speaking, he is non-verbally communicating some type of tension or lack of respect towards Jeff. As a manager, been mindful to those around you and how they non-verbally communicate can certainly give you a ‘heads up’ on what may be happening within other business units or on the floor.
There is another more subtle form of bullying which is often hidden under the veil of ‘humor’ known as ‘mobbing’, usually when a group of people tease or torment another person, but generally get away with such behavior as ‘it’s only a joke’ or ‘can’t you take a joke’.
In my next post I shall take a more detailed look at the impact of bullying and how to spot the ‘bully’ within you. Please share your thoughts below.