Bullying in the workplace – continued.

The post on Bullying in the Workplace has resulted in interest and questions.  I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that some of the readers making contact are not prepared to write openly.  The most asked question, of course, is ‘Why’?   There is no one answer – people behave differently for different reasons – and so do bullies.   The following extracts – 1 & 2 are provided by D. Gray, Equal Opportunities Manager, James Cook University.  They may help to answer some of the questions, and in the Australian manner, are very direct.  I think that you will find something to help your understanding here.

1.  “Why Bully?Recent research indicates that bullying has two main causes:

 *       The bully has difficulty with social skills, is unable to make friends easily, and thus does not know better ways to relate to others

*       Bullying is used to enhance self-concept – Self-concept is the way you feel about yourself. Well-balanced people enhance the way they feel about themselves through their achievements, activities and occupations.

Bullies, however, have a distorted sense of how to increase their self-concept, and so engage in anti-social activities. Bullying makes them feel good about themselves and, mistakenly, they believe that engaging in it will make other people see them as powerful. Surveys also show: that about 80% of people express contempt for bullying, but that people who have been identified as bullies believe that their bullying behaviour causes them to be perceived as admirable.” 

2.  “Why do I tolerate being bullied?  The effects of harassment and bullying are subjective and individual – people have different levels of tolerance.  Self-blame:   For some people, loss of self-confidence and low self-esteem, coupled with repeated denigration and comments about inadequate work performance (without appropriate coaching and support to try to remedy the situation) may lead to a conviction that they are deserving of the treatment – that the bullying is “their own fault”.  Fear: Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, and of insecurity, threat or fear of losing their job and not easily finding another, perhaps combined with family/financial responsibilities, may lead to a sense of being trapped.  Habit:  Upbringing and cultural influences may also play a part. Some people have been strongly influenced by an environment which requires young people to respect their elders, or people who hold positions of authority.  Gender perceptions: Many cultures perpetuate low expectations of women’s place in society. In some cultures, it is unacceptable for women to seek help outside the cultural group, or even the family, yet the group or family offer no support. Some men operate in a destructive environment where the seeking of assistance is a sign of weakness and inadequacy.  Apathy:  In terms of management, some bullies are extremely competent in the core functions of their jobs, and management, instead of assisting them to round themselves as competent also in dealing with their staff or co-workers, prefers to take the easy and apathetic route of ignoring the inappropriate behaviour. Bullies continue to be rewarded for managerial ruthlessness in the interests of market survival, consumer satisfaction, and administrative convenience and apathy.  Incompetence:  Some managers are themselves incompetent in the personal interaction side of their supervisory role, and have no idea how to deal with bullies. This may be coupled with a mistaken idea that staff management is not part of one’s “real job”, and that it is “a waste of time”  The responsibility for setting appropriate standards of behaviour rests with the management and supervisors and is demonstrated by: *       their personal leadership in ensuring professional standards of conduct

 *       modelling behaviour and monitoring activity

 *       dealing promptly and thoroughly with incidents in accordance with the relevant grievance procedures

 *       ensuring that complaints do not result in reprisals to, or victimisation of, the complainant. 

Acknowledged with thanks to: D Gray, Manager, Equal Opportunity 2003, James
Cook University   
May be reproduced with acknowledgement   James Cook University is Australia’s leading Tropical Research University, with its main sites in Queensland.  What Mr Gray does not deal with here, and I would not expect him to, is the effect on the mental health of the victims of bullying.   That information you can find on the links I have provided on the main page. oberon92                             

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One Response to “Bullying in the workplace – continued.”

  1. KeeK Says:

    Most workers are helpless against bullies in the workplace because they don’t know anything about employment law, but how many of us do? While there is no direct law at this time for bullies at work, they can still take action on their own by downloading a new ebook called Work Laws Exposed. Written by an employment law attorney championing the fight for US workers, it clearly explains exactly how to end not only bullying, but other workplace problems. It’s a must read for any employee. I wish I had this information when I was still working.

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