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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Have you ever been bullied at work?

 Anybody who has ever been made fun of, maliciously, understands the feeling of being the target of bullying. The old saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” is only partially true. Sometimes, if it doesn’t kill you, it just makes you meaner. I believe bullying can be contagious and it is something we all need to guard against.
People should try to be civil to one another, especially when they spend time together, day in and day out. What made high school so miserable for so many was the bullies with the attitude that, “you are not worthy.” We’re adults now and don’t have to put up with it. Then again, why should students have to endure it either?
My thoughts were inspired by the following submission:

How to Detect and Protect Against Workplace Bullying
By: Rakesh Malhotra,
founder of Five Global Values (www.FiveGlobalValues.com). Malhotra  is a world-traveled, business leader who specializes in organization behavior. 

Stories of workplace bullying are commonplace throughout the United States.
Here are examples:

Mavis: “When I started there, I was told that someone had been acting in the position and had expected to get the job. This person continually undermined me and turned other staff against me. I endured 12 months of hell, and felt as if I was sinking in quicksand.” 

A male employee at a different company: “The misery took over my whole life. I turned nasty and bitter and treated my wife and kids like whipping posts. After many visits to a psychologist, I was able to think of all the positive things in my life. Now I look back and think I wouldn’t want to go through that experience again.”

In general, there are no legal repercussions for non-physical bullying except in specific cases, such as sexual harassment. In fact, bullying is a character trait that tends to be condoned in American society.  
Bullies win by controlling situations and people around them. They crave power and the attention that comes from getting what they want.

The effects of working with a bully
Adults have a difficult time performing their jobs effectively when subjected to bullying by a co-worker. It takes a toll physically because of our physiological responses to emotional stress. Typically, victims endure feelings of depression, guilt and shame, and they suffer sleep loss and fatigue. In some cases, victims begin to believe the bully’s behavior is warranted, and they develop feelings of worthlessness. They cannot complete tasks at the same level as others in their units.

Are you a bully?

Being accused of being the bully can be difficult to accept. You may believe your actions were unintentional, or a justified emotional response to provocation. Perhaps, you see yourself as the only one in the office qualified to do anything right.  However, whatever you have said or done, whether purposefully or not, you have created a culture of negativity for at least one person and you need to honestly assess the situation and your role in it.

Symptoms that YOU may be the bully include:
 Insulting a coworker (remember, one person’s “joke” may be another’s insult).
• Undermining another employee’s work by creating a hostile environment or perhaps by consistently calling their attention to “flaws”. (Bullies focus on a person, while constructive criticism focuses on a task.)
 As an employer, ignoring your employees’ suggestions.
 Humiliating your employee in front of others.

If any of these sound like something that you may be doing, it is important to address this immediately with your victim. You may want to speak with your doctor about getting help, such as counseling, sensitivity training, anger management and other seminars.
It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of a bully in order to help the victim and the victimizer deal with and exterminate the behavior.
If you are a victim, diligently record workplace bullying events. If you choose to make a formal complaint, you will be responsible for providing information should there be charges brought against the bully.

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