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June 16, 2009

Work Shouldn’t Hurt

That’s what the blog from the Workplace Bullying Institute has right at the top.

Ruth and Gary Namie are untiring in their work researching, educating and combating bullying in the workplace. I attended a workshop they presented in Sioux City in Oct. 2007. Gary sent an email last week asking if I’d list his blog as a resource on my main page. That is a resounding YES.

Bullying is a terrifically complex problem
I have written about it in the past. It took only one comment on my blog from someone who was being bullied and crying out for help to convince me I should mention it occasionally for awareness but direct readers to experts.

The Workplace Bullying Institute blog started regular posts in Jan. 2009. See it at http://www.workplacebullying.org/

Gary’s email said he’d found my blog through Minding the Workplace, another fairly new blog by a law professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. The blog says the professor is founder of the New Workplace Institute (http://www.newworkplaceinstitute.org/), a research and education center promoting healthy, productive and socially responsible workplaces. See that blog at http://newworkplace.wordpress.com/

Bullying is health-harming
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behavior directed towards an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety. Bullying often involves a misuse or abuse of power where the targets can experience difficulties in defending themselves.

If you are being bullied or know someone who is, please pass on the link to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

October 21, 2008

A bully or not?

Bullying exists in far too many workplaces in the United States. We now recognize that. But to declare any difficult person a bully—that’s jumping to name calling.

I’d not seen the difference between a difficult person and a bully explained well until I read a post on Bully Free Workplace, which happens to originate in Canada.

That post says, “Difficult people are not necessarily out to harm another; they are out to protect their own needs. Therefore, if you can reason with a difficult person in order to show good will for their needs, they may change. A bully will not change; they are out to destroy your needs.”

Read the full post at http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com/blog/?p=128

This week, Oct. 19 - 25, 2008 is Freedom From Bullies Week.

The Workplace Bullying Institute out of the state of Washington calls this a week for support, inspiration, peace and health. See the institute’s to do list at http://workplacebullying.org/freedom.html

August 19, 2008

The equivalent of road rage…in the workplace

Health care and education are the industries most prone to bullying according to Gary Namie, cofounder of the national nonprofit Workplace Bullying Institute.

Healthcare road rage
North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Mass. is working to cut down on what some call healthcare road rage. This from an Aug. 10 Boston Globe article that opens with a surgeon throwing a pair of scissors…

“The push is inspired by a growing body of research suggesting that swearing, yelling, and throwing objects are not just rude and offensive to co-workers, but hurt patients by increasing the likelihood of medical errors.

Zero-tolerance by Jan. 1

“The national group that accredits healthcare organizations issued a safety alert to hospitals last month, saying outbursts threaten patient safety because they prevent caregivers from working as a team. The organization, The Joint Commission, for the first time is requiring all hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities to adopt "zero-tolerance" policies by Jan. 1, including codes of conduct, ways to encourage staff to report bad behavior, and a process for helping and, if necessary, disciplining offenders.

“…In calling for a new policy, the Joint Commission cites several studies linking bad behavior to errors. For example, one survey found that some nurses and pharmacists had avoided consulting with a prescribing doctor because they did not want to interact with that particular doctor.

"The number one issue in the errors that occur is bad communication,” said Dr. Peter Angood, chief patient safety officer for the commission.

“Angood said Joint Commission surveyors hear about doctors and nurses acting out constantly when they visit hospitals, where frustration is escalating amid growing financial pressures.

Workplace bullying in industry in crisis

"You're looking at a very stressed out industry," agreed David Yamada, a Suffolk University law professor who specializes in employment issues including workplace bullying. "You have an industry in crisis where people are having to do much more with limited resources. That combination can be a potent one."

Read more
The Boston Globe, Aug. 10, 2008
Hospitals try to calm doctors' outbursts: Medical road rage affecting patient safety, group says
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/08/10/hospitals_try_to_calm_doctors_outbursts/?page=1

Feb. 3, 2007
Civility in the Workplace: Sticks and Stones (Basics on bullying in the workplace)
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/mt/civility/2007/02/sticks_and_stones.html

May 07, 2008

New blog on bullying from Calgary

As of the end of April, an entry on how to stop bullying is #1 on the top 10 most visited Civility in the Workplace blog posts.

It’s sad so many people are being bullied.
It’s good people are recognizing bullying.

For more than a year, I’ve subscribed to Bully Free Monthly coming out of Canada. Last month the author expanded to a blog and the amount of information has blossomed.

Lots of information on one site, http://www.BullyFreeAtWork.com/blog

I’ve added it to my resource list on this blog’s main page too.

April 08, 2008

Criticism and bullying are two different things

Bullying is health-harming
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behavior directed towards an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety. Bullying often involves a misuse or abuse of power where the targets can experience difficulties in defending themselves.

Criticism is evaluation
Criticism is an analysis, interpretation, examination or judgment. Obviously, it’s best presented as constructive criticism.

If you are criticized, you shouldn’t immediately label it bullying. It’s simply not so.

Criticism should help make your work better
Years ago I had a supervisor who did outrageously wonderful performance evaluations. She would pull out projects she thought were particularly well done. And then she’d slide, oh so civilly, into the criticism part.

I remember walking out of one performance review thinking, ‘I feel really good and she just told me my writing was pretty awful.’ She suggested I find a mentor to hone my writing. It was one of the best criticisms ever handed me. I knew where to find the mentor. He was a retired journalism professor who was a sharp, no-nonsense editor. I had a good relationship with him.

I took articles to his house and returned several days later to find pencil marks deleting lots of copy, notes scribbled all over the margins, things to follow up on. I was amazed you could delete so many words and improve the writing so much.

That was 16 years ago. At the time I was nearly 20 years past writing and editing courses in college. I had not held jobs that I needed to write like that. I was out of practice. I undoubtedly took the criticism more seriously as an adult than I had as a college student. My self-esteem and perhaps my job depended upon how much I could improve.

That criticism was a life lesson
Today I seek out ruthless editors who will mark through my copy, tell me to move paragraphs and ask questions. My writing is improved by critical review. I try to do the same for others, whether fellow writers or extension professionals.

Very recently
I told you in a notification that I received the writing for the Web gold award for one blog post in an international critique and evaluation. And that I wasn’t sure which post I’d entered. I didn’t remember because I didn’t select the post. I asked one of my favorite ruthless editors to critique my entry submission. She offered suggestions. She went further. She suggested I submit a different post than the one I’d selected. I took her advice. Part of my award must belong to Diane for her thoughtful criticism. The entry was Sept. 25, 2007 post: Do you prefer people who talk or people who listen?

It is not easy to accept criticism
Much depends upon the tone in which it is presented. Much depends upon your attitude. It is not bullying.

October 19, 2007

How to stop bullying in the workplace

Gary Namie, consultant for The Work Doctor® and director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, recommends organizations create a bullying prevention policy rather than going after individual bullies. Namie conducted a Workplace Bullying Workshop last week at Western Iowa Tech (WIT) Community College.

From the Work Doctor site
Employers traditionally create policies to prohibit negative conduct when laws compel them. A good policy to prevent bullying is the cornerstone of a civil workplace. It sends the right message that destructive interpersonal misconduct is no way to run a successful, sustainable business.

Three components to stop bullying
a. An internal, loophole-free policy to specifically address workplace bullying.

b. Enforcement procedures to implement the policy and provide personal and organizational accountability. The policy needs to be applicable to everyone in the organization.

c. A plan to train and educate all employees, supervisors and administrators.

Don’t hire bullies
Robert Dunker, president of WIT, attended most of the daylong session in Sioux City. He changed his schedule that day to come to the afternoon session to hear Namie address how to keep bullies out of the workplace. Dunker asked how to identify bullies in the hiring process. Namie answered you seek the opinions of those who worked under a candidate, not from his or her current place of employment, but from the employer before that. People in that organization will be candid. Current employees will not reveal a bully in their midst.

The United States has not passed a law against workplace bullying

Namie believes laws are needed. Laws will compel employers to correct and prevent mistreatment rather than minimize the problem as ‘personality clashes’. Bullying closely resembles domestic violence in that both were shrouded in silence and the victim is often thought to be at fault. Domestic violence has emerged from that shroud.

Other countries have legislation against bullying. As of Oct. 1, Saskatchewan is the second Canadian province with legislation banning bullying in the workplace. Quebec also bans those activities. Sweden implemented the first national law in 1993; Great Britain followed in 1997 and France in 2002. Two Australian states also have laws.


A Week dedicated to Courage, Support, Inspiration and Peace in the American Workplace
Oct. 14-20 is Freedom from Bullies Week, a project of the Workplace Bullying Institute headquartered in Bellingham, Washington. http://bullyinginstitute.org/studies9.html

October 18, 2007

Most bullies in the workplace are opportunists and workplace politicians

Tactics bullies use
Blame for errors not made
Unreasonable job demands
Criticism of ability
Inconsistent compliance with rules
Threaten job loss
Insults and put-downs
Discounting/denial of accomplishments
Exclusion, ‘icing out’
Yelling, screaming
Stealing credit
Deny resources (time, supplies, help)
Intimidation, hostility
Discount thoughts or feelings
-- ‘The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job’ by Gary and Ruth Namie

Bullying is characterized by unethical actions and harms the organization.
Some competition and conflict is normal and useful in the workplace. Bullying is not non-abusive managerial skills. Bullying is repeated verbal abuse, threatening, intimidating or humiliating conduct. The climate becomes foggy, communication is ambiguous and the interaction can be hostile. Look for
Role ambiguity
Uncooperative behavior
Lack of foresight
Ambiguous interpersonal relations
Organizational flaws
Long lasting and systematic unethical actions
Equivocal strategies
Covert actions and denial of conflict
Oblique and evasive communication
--WHO bulletin, Raising Awareness of Psychological Harassment at Work

Oct. 14-20 is Freedom from Bullies Week.

October 17, 2007

How widespread is workplace bullying in the United States?

28% of U.S. workers are bullied but only slightly over one-third self-identify as targets of bullies.
Respondents were asked how often they experienced 22 (behaviorally defined) negative acts over the past six months. They defined bullying as “at least two negative acts, weekly or more often, for six or more months in situations where targets find it difficult to defend against and stop abuse.” They speculated that 35% to 50% of U.S. workers experience one negative act at least weekly in any six to 12 month period.

--Nov. 2006, Lutgen-Sandvik, P., Tracy, S.J., & Alberts, J.K. Burned by Bullying in the American Workplace: Prevalence, Perception, Degree, and Impact. Journal of Management Studies
The researchers are from the University of New Mexico and Arizona State University. The survey had 469 respondents. http://bullyinginstitute.org/res/Burned.pdf

37% of U.S. workers have been bullied at work, 49% were targets or witnessed bullying.

In 62% of the cases, when employers were made aware of bullying, they escalated or ignored the problem. When the targets were asked, ‘What stopped the mistreatment?’, 40% replied they voluntarily left the organization. That represents 21.6 million workers in the United States.

--Sept. 2007, Namie, G. & Namie, R., U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, The Workplace Bullying Institute, survey conducted by Zogby International. 7,740 respondents.
http://bullyinginstitute.org/res/zogbyresultsbro.pdf

The silence of bullying
We live in an aggressive and competitive culture where the bullied person is perceived as being weak. The targeted person is shamed by being controlled and humiliated. Coworkers suffer, living in fear of being the next target. Bullying negatively impacts the entire workgroup.

Oct. 14-20 is Freedom from Bullies Week.

October 16, 2007

How does workplace bullying differ from incivility?

Bullying is health-harming
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety. Bullying often involves a misuse or abuse of power where the targets can experience difficulties in defending themselves. -- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

A bully destroys a person’s sense of security and stability. Bullying can cause various stress-related problems including severe anxiety, disrupted sleep, loss of concentration, post-traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression and panic attacks. With prolonged exposure, bullying can contribute to high blood pressure and skin disorders, immune system and other health problems.

Workplace bullying by other names
The term workplace bullying was coined in Great Britain.
Mobbing, originating from a term in animal sciences literally means “to form a crowd around someone to attack him or her”, the behavior of some animal species of expelling one member from a group. Mobbing was used by Heinz Leymann, German psychologist and doctor, who conducted the original research in Sweden in the 1980s.
Psychological harassment is the term used in Quebec law and by the World Health Organization.
Workplace aggression (used in academe), emotional abuse and status-blind harassment are additional terms.

Raising Awareness of Psychological Harassment at Work
World Health Organization publication Protecting Workers’ Health Series No. 4---
Psychological harassment is a form of employee abuse arising from unethical behaviour and leading to victimization of the worker. It is an increasing worldwide problem which is still largely unknown and underestimated. It can produce serious negative consequences on the quality of life and on individuals’ health, mainly in the emotional, psychosomatic and behavioural areas. In addition, society as a whole becomes a victim because of increased pressure on social services and welfare.
Psychological harassment is an old phenomenon present in many workplaces, caused by deterioration of interpersonal relations as well as organizational dysfunctions.


A Week dedicated to Courage, Support, Inspiration and Peace in the American Workplace
Oct. 14-20 is Freedom from Bullies Week, a project of the Workplace Bullying Institute headquartered in Bellingham, Washington. http://bullyinginstitute.org/studies9.html

September 19, 2007

Wall Street Journal: Shooting Messengers Makes Us Work Dumber

From the Sept. 12, 2007 online article: Everyone knows blaming the blameless bearer of bad news doesn't help, but we do it anyway. It's a symptom of the ill-aimed, trigger-happy nature of office blame, and the gulf between knowing a problem and solving it. Among the unwanted consequences: The shooter gets a one-way ticket from reality.

Several months ago I wrote about shooting the messenger as a tactic of workplace bullies. The Journal article has some bizarre examples. Most of the discussion is insightful. The first comment (below) points out the need for stellar communication and the complexity of today’s work. The second comment points out how to effectively handle the situation----work on the problems. And the third comment I pulled----pure entertainment looking through the rear view mirror.

The Journal writer then turns to customers shooting the messenger. Perhaps we need to think about our actions in such situations. Either type of shooting the messenger is really, really uncivil.

Readers’ comments on the story
1. “This issue is really about how organizations of all types foster or impede communication. I believe it is the gold standard of effectiveness. I also believe that people (inside the organization) who shoot messengers do not understand the complexity of the work in which they are engaged, and that being able to handle complexity is becoming the most critical skill we can develop.”

2. “I was reminded of working in Tokyo in the late 80s, the first and only foreigner in a major pharmaceutical company. What astonished me about the way my colleagues worked was the lack of personal attacks. When a problem arose--and problems in the pharmaceutical industry can be serious--folks got to work fixing the problem.”

3. “When I was the IT manager of a small Cambridge, MA consulting firm, my staff or I were blamed for everything that had to do with a network wire. Once, our Internet service was cut by a backhoe slicing a fiber cable in Virginia. When I told the president he blew up and asked what I was going to do to fix it. A phone strike in France delayed our network connection to the Paris office. Again, my fault.
Looking back I'm wondering if I should have been complimented instead of insulted. I mean, the man thought I controlled French labor unions and Virginian heavy equipment operators.”

Read the full Wall Street Journal article and the discussion
http://www.careerjournal.com/columnists/cubicleculture/20070912-cubicle.html?mod=RSS_Career_Journal&cjrss=frontpage&mod=sphere_wd

This blog, July 18, They shoot messengers, don’t they?
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/mt/civility/2007/07/they_shoot_messengers_dont_the.html

September 13, 2007

Bullying workshop Oct. 9 in Sioux City

Western Iowa Tech Community College is hosting Workplace Bullying: An Introductory Workshop Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The presenters are two of the leading U.S. advocates seeking to eradicate workplace aggression.

This is big time, the real deal, here in Iowa.

Gary and Ruth Namie wrote ‘The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity On the Job’ and founded the Workplace Bullying Institute. The institute mission is to raise awareness, lead public dialogue about health-endangering Workplace Bullying, and to create and communicate research-based solutions for individuals, employers and public policy makers. It is a nonprofit organization based in Bellingham, Washington.

Abbreviated course description
Workplace bullying is an insidious aspect of most contemporary work. For 20 years Europeans have researched it and passed laws to address it. It is an emergent American issue, attracting popular media and business press attention. Victims suffer. Employers suffer. Bullies inhibit productivity.

The fee is $10 for social work or human resources educational credit. There is no charge for general attendance but you must preregister. The morning program covers defining workplace bullying, why the silence, perpetrator tactics, profile of targets, impact on victims, costs to organizations and solutions. The afternoon session is clinical including predictable misdiagnoses and effective treatment strategies. Call (712) 274-6404 to register.

I talked to the workshop coordinator Monday. She has done little promotion; 90 people are registered. The limit is 225. That tells you how critical this issue and that Midwesterners want to know more.

A Sept. 2007 Workplace Bulling Institute survey
of more than 7,700 adults in the United States shows
• 37% of American workers have been bullied
• Bullying is 4 times more prevalent than illegal forms of harassment
• Employers worsen or ignore the problem
• 40% of the bullied targets quit their jobs

The Siouxland workshop is underwritten by grants from The Kind World Foundation of the Siouxland Community Foundation, The Waitt Family Foundation and The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention.
Born in Sioux City and the son of a fourth-generation Iowa cattleman, Ted Waitt co-founded Gateway on his family's farm in 1985. He founded The Waitt Family Foundation in 1993 and the affiliate organization, The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, in 2005.

WIT and Sioux City---kudos.

Pdf of the WIT brochure on Workplace Bullying: An Introductory Workshop, Download file

U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, Labor Day 2007, http://bullyinginstitute.org/wbi-zogby2007.html

August 01, 2007

Respected or loathed, the latter describes the workplace bully

Incivility is mild compared to bullying, but it can be difficult to decide where incivility tips over into bullying. There are full-blown bullies and then those who employ a few bullying techniques. Some practices are simply poor communication. Aren’t we all guilty of that to some extent?

This post is to help you recognize bullying techniques and contemplate if you use any of these techniques or if you work with people who use them.

A sample of bullying actions that affects involvement and productivity
A bully
• Revels in confusion, divide and rule
• Constantly interferes, dictates and controls
• Includes and excludes people selectively rather than including everyone
• Withholds information, releases selectively, uses information as a weapon rather than sharing information freely
• Lacks integrity, exhibits hypocrisy and duplicity rather than abiding by a moral code of integrity

Workplace guru Tom Bay writes about how ideas and moods can aid or sabotage the workplace in ‘Change Your Attitude: Creating Success One Thought at a Time’. He believes toxic managers and the cultures that enable them are at the core of today's job-hopping phenomenon.

The difference between bullying and management
http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/manage.htm
If you think of the seven key needs employees want from the previous post, you’ll find them on the left side of this chart, stated directly or implied. I don’t believe you need to interpret the word ‘manager’ as some one who carries that title. It can be any person in the workplace; we all manage something, and most importantly, our own actions.

From Stop Toxic Managers Before They Stop You, http://content.monster.com/articles/3487/16661/1/home.aspx
Some work situations foster toxic managers. When a company has gone through downsizings, pay freezes or other financial crises, negative management tends to thrive. The emphasis is often on get-tough turnaround. Administrators turn a blind eye to crude management as long as the numbers are good.

Bullying defined, why people bully, whom bullies target, steps to take against bullying, Sticks and stones, Feb. 3, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/mt/civility/2007/02/sticks_and_stones.html

How to deal with workplace bullying and how to tackle bullying at work, http://www.bullyonline.org/action/action.htm

Workplace Bullying: Who's Your Bully?, Monster Career Advice
http://content.monster.com/articles/3493/18162/1/home.aspx

Expert Answers on Workplace Bullying, Monster Career Advice, http://content.monster.com/articles/3493/18191/1/home.aspx

Ten Warning Signs of a Toxic Boss, Monster Career Advice, http://content.monster.com/articles/3478/16946/1/home.aspx

July 18, 2007

They shoot messengers, don't they?

CrossbowTelescopicSight.JPG
Wickipedia says “Shooting the messenger" is a phrase describing the act of lashing out at the (blameless) bearer of bad news. The advice "Don't shoot the messenger" was first expressed by Shakespeare in Henry IV, part 2 (1598).

This is a second post using a section of ‘The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t’ (Feb. 2007) by Robert Sutton, Stanford University professor. The first was May 18, The very difficult people who are more trouble than they are worth, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/mt/civility/2007/05/the_very_difficult_people_who.html

Sutton explains that the perpetually difficult people suffer from delusions of effectiveness. In today’s competitive world, some people rise to power by walking over others. Leadership research shows, particularly in nasty and competitive cultures, subtle moves like glaring and condescending comments, insults and put-downs and even physical intimidation can be effective paths to power.

These skills may work to rise to power…unfortunately. They don’t work for effective leadership.

Survival
The people who work with such a person have ways to cope. If there’s a “shoot the messenger” mentality, people learn very quickly to be silent about bad news. There is only good news. People put on an act when the jerk is around.

In a fear-based organization, employees constantly look over their shoulders and try to avoid blame and humiliation, even when they know how to help the organization. W. Edwards Deming noted employees devote energy to protecting themselves, not to helping the organization improve. There is evidence that when people work for cold and mean-spirited jerks, employees steal from their companies to even the score.

Delusions of effectiveness

Sutton lists seven points in his list ‘Are you suffering from delusions of effectiveness?’ I’ve covered four. The other three are
• Your organization is effective despite rather than because you are a demeaning jerk.
• You are being charged taxes: people are willing to work for you only if you pay them premium rates.
• Your enemies are silent for now.

Facing the truth
A workplace atmosphere stifles growth if you can’t use research and entertain open discussion. It’s untruthful. I think of a phrase I’ve encountered several times recently, the emperor has no clothes. The allusion is to Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale ‘The Emperor's New Clothes’. The term is often used for an obvious truth denied by the majority despite the evidence they see.

When I finished Sutton’s book, my overall feeling was depression. Somehow I feel it would be cowardly and dishonest to not share and mull over some of his writing just because I’m depressed by the content. It is heavy with references to research. We all need to face the truth even when we don’t like it, which is indeed the essence of this post. Don’t shoot the messenger.

May 18, 2007

The very difficult people who are more trouble than they are worth

Bob Sutton, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, first saw the no asshole rule in action at Stanford in the 1980s. He wrote about it for Harvard Business Review’s breakthrough ideas in 2004. His book ‘The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t’ was published in February 2007.

The rule is simply to not hire or if they are in your workplace drive them out or reform those who infuriate, demean and damage their peers, superiors, underlings and at times, clients and customers. Sutton calculates toxic people cost more than they are worth.

At places that are the most vehement and effective at enforcing the rule, “employee performance” and “treatment of others” aren’t separate things. Even if people do other things well (even extraordinarily well) but routinely demean others, they are classified as incompetent. A business or organization should respond immediately if any individual degrades another, regardless of position.

The effect of one toxic person is incredible
Toxic people tend to breed by hiring people like themselves and by turning perfectly nice people into, at least at times, toxic people.

“Passion is an overrated virtue in organizational life, and indifference is an underrated virtue.” Sutton explains: If you work in a good environment where you are treated with respect, you can be passionate, committed and identify with the organization. But if you are oppressed and humiliated, it is folly to be engaged at work. To survive with your health and self esteem, you need to feel and practice indifference and emotional detachment. Caring and passion are out. If you work around toxic people, you may have to disengage to survive or get out.

This is a huge cost to a workplace…to have people who are not engaged and often fear the next tirade. Ordinary people who are passionate and committed will produce more than one brilliant toxic person surrounded by paralyzed coworkers.

Bob Sutton The Working Life blog at Harvard Business Online, http://discussionleader.hbsp.com/sutton/2007/05/arse_test_83644_people_so_far_1.html
Guy Kawaski posts the employee rules of engagement one company requires, http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/02/arse_the_asshho.html

“The greatest honor of a man is in doing good to his fellow men, not in destroying them.”
Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President, author of the Declaration of Independence (1743-1826)

February 03, 2007

Sticks and stones

may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Totally untrue, says Gary Namie, co-author of “The Bully at Work” and co-founder of the national nonprofit Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, WA.

Bullying is in Iowa headlines because there’s a legislative bill to ban bullying in schools. That, combined with the recent training on discrimination and harassment makes me ask…What about bullying in the workplace?

The institute defines workplace bullying as
Repeated, health impairing mistreatment comprised of one or more of the following:
1. verbal abuse
2. threatening, intimidating conduct
3. work interference

Consider the research.
• Bullying is three times more prevalent than illegal, discriminatory harassment.
• Women harassing women constitutes 50% of the bullying.
• One in six employees directly experience workplace bullying.
• 71% of bullies are bosses.
• Seven out of ten who are bullied will leave their jobs or be forced out of jobs they love.

Bullying is far worse than incivility or rudeness.
Namie says the industries most prone to bullying are health care and education. Why? There’s cut-throat competition and the workplaces are political.

Giovinella Gonthier, author of “Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace”, says bullies thrive on creating fear. They engage in hostile behavior such as criticizing the work and accomplishments of others, threatening job loss, yelling and screaming and making derogatory remarks.

Why do bullies bully? Namie says it’s a simple list.
1. Workers are pitted against workers; one way to advance is to exploit others.
2. Ambitious, zealous, Machiavellian types who manipulate others to reach their own goals are tolerated. It may be the definition of success.
3. The employer supports aggression with promotions and rewards.

Who is the target of bullying in the workplace?
The self-starter who is feisty and independent
A person who is technically more skilled than the bully
The target is more emotionally intelligent and socially adept than the bully; the target is well-liked
The target is ethical and honest to a fault
The target is not a confrontational person. He or she does not respond. Frankly, the target is stunned and bewildered. The target is convinced he or she can overcome this. It’s all shame-based; the target feels shame. The target comes to believe he or she is incompetent. It’s a disassembly of the target’s personality.

Don’t worry about the bully’s motives. Take action.
1. Name it bullying. It’s not discrimination of a protected class. There’s no law against cruelty. There’s a person that is the source of the bullying.
2. Take time off to do four things.
a. Check your physical health; often it’s a physician that will name bullying—you have high blood pressure, clinical depression, panic attacks or shingles.
b. Check your mental health.
c. See if there’s recourse within the company; consult a legal professional.
d. Build the business case that the bully is too expensive to keep. What is the financial impact to the company? Document the cost of turnover, absenteeism, health care needed. Bullying interferes with productivity. It causes a serious disruption to the flow of work.
3. Expose the bully. Take your documented business case to the highest level in the organization you can.

Be assertive.
While you’re working on the three steps, Namie says relieve stress by changing the work environment. Ask to transfer jobs or tap the power of your coworker group. You need the social support of your family and coworkers. Coworkers abandon the target because they’re really glad it’s not them. Ask for their support; ask “did you see what happened to me?” Bullies are narcissistic. A bully is insecure and afraid of confrontation by a group of coworkers or peers. Nurses in an operating suite encircle the bully surgeon and demand an apology.

Workplace bullying is a lot like domestic violence. The bully creates a toxic environment. In other countries bullying is the subject of workplace policies. The United States needs to take a lesson.

Workplace Bullying Institute, http://www.bullyinginstitute.org/focus.html
Workplace Bullying from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_bullying
Bullying in the Workplace on Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html
Bullying in the Workplace - An acceptable cost? Dissertation by Andy Ellis, Ruskin College, Oxford, UK, http://www.workplacebullying.co.uk/aethesis.html

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice."
--Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. attorney general and senator (1925-1968)