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By Margaret Wood 11/2/2016

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying includes any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knows or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.

Bullying is different from aggression. Whereas aggression may involve a single act, bullying involves repeated attacks against the target, creating an on-going pattern of behavior.

However, it excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.

Recent studies now show that people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers. Can organizations really afford to have talented individuals disengage and then leave? Is it worse in times of economic downturns? Workplace bullying can cost you some of your best talent –many incidents go unreported. This problem has no borders – many companies in Canada and the UK deal with it as well.

  • “40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis.” (Lee & Brotheridge, 2006)
  • “between 35-50% of Americans have experienced bullying in their careers.” (Lutgens et al, 2007)
  • “Workplace bullying costs employers and insurers billions of dollars annually in spending for increased healthcare, turnover, absenteeism, sick leave, litigation and negative publicity.” (Rayner, Hoel, & Cooper, 2002)
  • “Bullying worsens in uncertain economies due to increasing power differentials brought about by reduced job security.” (LaCivita, 2011)

  What Constitutes Bullying Behaviors?

Here are some examples of someone displaying bullying behaviors:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Intimidation on a regular basis
  • Challenges your adequacy and your commitment
  • Intrudes on your privacy
  • Undermines your work
  • Overloads you with work
  • Excessively monitors your work
  • Impedes your success
  • Spreads rumors about you
  • Assigns work that is below your level
  • Isolates you at work

The ‘Bully Free’ Workplace

Creating a culture of emotional intelligence can reduce the likelihood of bullying in your workplace.

Workplace bullying flourishes in a Dominance Paradigm

  • Bullying does not conform to the criteria for a Partnership Paradigm
  • The individual skills required for success within a Partnership Paradigm are Emotional Intelligence skills
  • When leadership and employee development programs embody and emphasize the skills related to emotional intelligence a ‘bully-free’ culture can be created, which reduces the likelihood of bullying.
Dominance Paradigm Partnership Paradigm
Power ‘Over’ Empowerment
Compliance – task focused Creativity – results focused
Following orders Engaged in work
One Way Communication Dialogue
Hierarchy Collaborative
Limited Unlimited
Simple Complex

 

 

 

 

 

As can be seen in the table above, a Partnership Paradigm allows for emotional intelligence growth. Through empowerment, employees become engaged in their work, and through collaboration and dialogue, they develop unlimited,as well a more complex creativity.