Beyond the Schoolyard: Workplace Bullying


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Beyond the Schoolyard: Workplace Bullying

Not only do workplace bullies hurt people, they can also hurt business – driving away good employees in their quest for control. What can you do if you find yourself having to face a bully every day?

Not All That Different …

Schoolyard bullies vs. workplace bullies
Both share a need for control – exercising power through humiliation of a target. If reinforced by cheering kids, fearful teachers or ignoring administrators, there is no reason to change and it often continues into adulthood. (1)

What Is a Workplace Bully?

Characteristics of a workplace bully: (2)

  • Tormenters
  • Tattlers
  • Finger pointers
  • Publicly pick on people
  • CC the whole world in emails
  • Point out your mistakes and tell everyone

Narcissism and self-orientation

What workplace bullies usually score high on in personality tests (3)

Bullying Victims

How many workers are dealing with bullies?
Workers who say they’re treated rudely at least once a week (in 2011); up from 25% in 1998 (4)

Bullying victims who had to lose or give up their jobs to make the bullying stop (1)
40% of workplace bullies are women, picking on other women more than 70% of the time. (5)

How Bullying Can Hurt Your Business

Work is stressful enough on its own, but adding a bully to the mix can make it unbearable.
9% of people say they’re happy at the office. (3)
Less than 1/3
Employees who say they’re engaged at work (3)

Workplace bullying can have serious negative effects on employees, such as: (6)

  • Stress
  • Absenteeism and low productivity
  • Lowered self-esteem and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive upset
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble with relationships due to stress over work

All of this can hit the company’s bottom line, causing: (6)

  • High turnover
  • Low productivity
  • Lost innovations
  • Difficulty hiring quality employees due a “hostile work environment” reputation

Got a Bully? Here’s How to Deal

Avoid the workplace in the first place (1)

  • Ask why the job is open and how long the predecessor was there (turnover is a bullying sign)
  • Ask about the attitude toward “workaholics.” If it’s expected, then you can know what you’re getting into
  • Ask about policies and codes that help ensure a respectful workplace

Once you encounter a bully (5)

  • Don’t get emotional (bullies like that)
  • Don’t blame yourself (the problem is the bully, not you)
  • Do your best work
  • Build a support network
  • Document everything
  • Seek help
  • Get counseling
  • Stay healthy
  • Educate yourself about policies
  • Don’t expect to change the bully
  • Start a new job search

25% of workplace bullying deals with discrimination. If that’s the case, you can talk to an attorney. (7)

Don’t hire a bully
Recognize certain traits in an interview process: They usually interview well due to a desire to control the situation. Invite them to an informal lunch and see if they’re empathetic (good) or brag about “cracking the whip” (bad). (8)

Workplace Bullies