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Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying - Let a Sleeping Bully Lie?


Jan 07, 2014

Workplace Bullying

You know the office bully is a drain on productivity and morale. Their behavior is simply unacceptable. Today should be the day you deal with that bully and send the message that professionalism and respect are required.  Don’t let another day of apathy enable their abuse.  

The office bully makes everyone miserable, but the prospect of dealing with them can be daunting. Dealing with how they abuse others means you have to deal with them. So you rationalize:

What is bullying anyway?

It’s not actually illegal, is it?

No one’s complained (lately)…

We don’t have a bully, do we?


What is bullying, anyway?

Bully: the word conjures a schoolyard brat punching smaller kids. The corporate bully (who probably was that kid) has far more ways to intimidate than punching:

  • Yelling and intimidating
  • Demeaning –publicly or privately
  • Undermining and humiliating

The adult bully comes in a variety of personalities, who can attack physically, but more often inflict pain emotionally or socially. Find out more about bully personality types and their methods with Workplace Answers Online Training.


It’s not actually illegal, is it?

It might be: most bullies are exhibiting rage and a need to control when they act out. Do you believe people who state their words and actions are not discriminatory or harassing?

  • Is your office bully carefully shouting at others?
  • What kind of language/terminology do they use?
  • Are they singling out a victim who belongs to a protected class?  
  • Your bully may think they’re an equal opportunity offender, but their victim may not agree. Irrespective of motive, if your bully treats people with protected status differently than non-protected, they may be guilty of disparate treatment discrimination.

While there are few laws today, there is a national trend to stop workplace bullying. Stay ahead of the movement with training and information from Workplace Answers.


No one’s complained (lately)…

Just because no one has filed a complaint, doesn’t mean no one is complaining.

They are talking about the latest incident; commiserating and wondering when someone (read - you) is going to do something. The impact:

  • Productivity: After/during an incident, are they ready to work?
  • Morale:  Do nothing and the message is clear: your misery is acceptable.
  • Personal: Sick time and illness, the stress can affect insurance costs.
  • Potential: When/if they cross the line, complaints and lawsuits.


We don’t have a bully, do we?

Do you have a department with:

  • Higher turnover
  • Higher sick days
  • Lower productivity/morale

Do you wonder what’s going on?  Just because you don’t hear screaming, doesn’t mean there’s no bullying. The bully can undermine and humiliate in quiet ways that cause talented people to quit and leave behind only the intimidated.

In addition to constant recruiting costs, you may be sitting on a potential lawsuit. It’s time for interviews - even with past employees - to find out what’s going on. 


What You Can Do Today

The bully relies on fear and apathy: recognize the problem needs to be dealt with, just like any threat to productivity and profitability.

  • Widely disseminate and enforce policies that require professional, respectful behavior at all levels.
  • Require reporting - a professional workplace is everyone’s responsibility. Require reporting at all levels, and deal with failures to report appropriately.
  • Create a culture of trust and accountability. Allow for anonymous reporting, if necessary, and immediately act on complaints filed.
  • Support the victim with corrective action and counseling, if needed.
  • Stop the perpetrator with disciplinary action and counseling, if appropriate.

The corporate bully is a recognizable, preventable drain on talent and resources. Failure to address bullying is tacit approval of the behavior – enabling it to continue and potentially escalate.

It’s time to deal with this aggressive behavior and stop the stress it puts on your staff and company.  Look to Workplace Answers for all the support, training and information you need. 

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