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Workplace Bullying

It may seem odd that someone with my physical stature has dealt with bullying.


In kindergarten, standing taller than damn near everyone in elementary school, I was an easy target for punk kids several years my elder. In many ways, this experience molded my childhood. When I got in fights, it was defending someone being bullied – I made it my crusade. I was a watch dog.


How, then, had I never considered bullying as an adult? Out of sight, out of mind I suppose.


And then, recently through the magical World Wide Web, I came across a recent study. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s actually a non-profit, Workplace Bullying Institute, that conducts an annual survey on workplace bullying.


Several key statistics from 2014 are as follows:

  • 27% of the workforce has current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work

“Abusive conduct” is fairly broad. When I first started working, at least once per week I would open the fridge only to find my Greek yogurt missing. Was this abuse? I understand stealing food was not the nature of the response intended, but perception of abusive conduct can be highly judgmental.

  • 72% of employers deny, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend workplace bullying

Deny, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend are all wildly different words. My guess is many of these responses go in the “discount” and “rationalize” buckets, but we can’t make that conclusion from the information provided. I suggested to the Institute that they should break this metric out in future surveys, or if already done, at least summarize this separately for the audience.

  • 72% of the workforce is aware that workplace bullying occurs

I really can’t play devil’s advocate here. We are saying that nearly three of four people of the workforce are aware of bullying. That is a disturbing number. If this many people suggest that they are aware of workplace bullying, how is this not something discussed in greater detail? Hell, how is this not something discussed at all?


While true that is our own personal responsibility to care of ourselves, we must recognize that everyone around us is not strong enough to defend themselves from the emotional barrage of a bully. Bullies are leaches, finding emotionally weak individuals to suck dry. Bullies know that they will receive no pushback from someone emotionally weak.


The moment you see anyone emotionally dominated by someone else is the moment it needs to stop. Of course we cannot fight the bullies as we may have in the school yard, but that doesn’t mean we let it slide and go unnoticed.


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