Be a stand against workplace bullying.  Don’t minimize it. Don’t turn away. This is more than a workplace issue.

When a 31-year-old firefighter-paramedic took her life in 2016, her employer uncovered that on-the-job bullying and harassment likely contributed to her duress.First, understand what workplace bullying is.

Workplace bullying does not include feeling upset or unappreciated.  Constructive feedback can hurt our feelings.  So can being not promoted, demoted or dismissed. Uncomfortable conflict and disagreements are not bullying (in fact these can be quite healthy.)

We also know the team that ribs each other mercilessly, laughs and bonds over the experience.  While it’s a pattern of behavior some might find offensive, in this case there’s no malicious intent.  The intent is to connect.

Workplace bullying on the other hand weaves together two vicious factors: a repetitive pattern of behavior and malicious intent.

Examples of repetitive patterns of bullying behavior include:

  • Mocking, ridiculing or belittling
  • Harshly teasing
  • Yelling or screaming
  • Condescending comments
  • Vicious gossip
  • Threatening words or gestures
  • “Icing” someone out
  • Withholding information
  • Staring or glaring

The impact of these behaviors is intensified when done in front of others.  Single instances of these types of behavior should be addressed immediately so they are not allowed to become patterns.

Malicious intent includes the desire to:

  • Intimidate
  • Degrade or demean
  • Sabotage
  • Socially isolate
  • Defame character
  • Retaliate
  • Vilify
  • Humiliate

Be vigilant and curious when claims of bullying present themselves.  Don’t make assumptions about either individual.  Ask questions and listen carefully for intent.  Consider if there’s a power differential.  Make sure no one is looking to shift focus from an underlying issue such as a lack of performance.

Listen and hold space for the truth to present itself.

Culture Works is loaded with tools, techniques and tips on how to transform your workplace culture!