Signs of workplace bullying & ways to prevent it

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According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, more than a quarter of Americans have been the target of workplace bullying.

SIGNS

How do you spot a workplace bully ?

  • Threatening, humiliating or intimidating behaviors (i.e. getting up in somebody’s personal space, blocking them from moving through an entry, or a practical joke designed to embarrass, etc. )
  • Verbal abuse (cruel comments and teasing---language to undermine somebody’s dignity in a sudden or repeated manner---like a boss that called his team, “morons who couldn’t get a job anywhere else”.)
  • Interference with one’s ability to work (for example, withholding resources---like the password to login to a database, or the keys to the work truck)
    • Cyberbullying, malicious gossip and spreading rumor are also bullying behaviors
    • Bullying may be covert or subtle
    • Unlike harassment, bullying is not illegal. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

PREVENTION

  • Communicate assertively
    • Don’t be passive (doormat), aggressive (like the bully) or passive-aggressive (getting back at the person through indirect behaviors)
    • Use I statements and make clear and direct requests
    • Set healthy limits and boundaries (i.e. by saying, “no”, or “this isn’t okay”)
  • Get support
    • From friends, family, therapist, colleagues, boss, or HR
    • Develop a plan
  • Ask your employer to take action (hand the problem up to the person who can resolve it, focus on the bottom line--too expensive to keep the bully --be ready to leave your job if necessary)
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