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Bullying In The Workplace On The Rise

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 12:00 PM EST
Category: In The Workplace
Tags: Bullying, Violence, Workplace Bullying

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IMAGE SOURCE: Stop Bullying Now

Workplace bullying by women appears to be on the rise. According to a study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 40 percent of bullies are women and of those, 70 percent target other women.

The Workplace Bullying Institute describes bullying as “a non-physical, non-homicidal form of violence and because it is violence and abusive, emotional harm frequently results.”

Bullies have long used cutting down others, swearing, sabotaging and scheming to cause anxiety in the workplace. And as the economy continues to get worse, so it seems do the attacks.

Some question if women turn to bullying in the workplace out of a place of insecurity about their roles or because there aren’t as many leadership opportunities, but what most leadership specialists seem to agree on is that when women bully, they only hurt each other.

The findings of a Zogby poll, based on 7,740 interviews, are below:

* 37 percent of workers have been bullied

* Most bullies – 72 percent – are bosses

* Most targets -57 percent – are women

* Bullying is 4 times more prevalent in the workplace than illegal harassment

* The problem is ignored by 62 percent of employers

* 45 percent of bully targets suffer stress-related health problems

* While 40 percent of bullied individuals never tell their employers

* And only 3 percent of bullied people file lawsuits.

For those that are being bullied, experts suggest keeping taking the following steps:

Do not trust HR – they work for management and are management.

Do not ask for relief from the bully’s boss. This is the person that likes her/him most. (And if they don’t like them, there is fear.)

Keep a documented log of events which you should not show to anyone as it can be used against you in the wrong hands.

An attorney should not be sought until you’ve exhausted cheaper alternatives to get your employer to acknowledge your complaint.

Do not discuss the situation with co-workers.

Workplace Bullying Institute has a Three-Step Method to help you deal with workplace bullying.

Bullying Bills

Massachusetts has enacted introduced a Healthy Workplace Bill which is currently pending. Senate Bill No. 699 targets severe workplace bullying and those who do the bullying may receive legal sanctions.

The Illinois House of Representatives and New York State Assembly have also passed similar bills calling attention to workplace bullying. In New York – A 2247 was passed on May 6. While in Illinois – HRJ40 was passed on April 30. Both bills commission statewide studies of the problem. #


3 Comments

Posted by Gary Namie
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 8:33 PM EST

I appreciate Chrissie's inclusion of the major findings from our survey, the Workplace Bullying Institute-Zogby U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey. It shows that the finding about women targeting women is only a small part of the dark picture about the American workplace.

But to claim that Mass has enacted a law is wrong. (The article she is citing must have been written by a lawmaking novice.) We at the WBI Legislative Campaign drive the multi-state project. Mass has only an INTRODUCED bill (the WBI Healthy Workplace Bill, SB 699). In 2009, 12 states carried some version of the bill. It is dead now in many state legislatures but still alive in NY and IL where bills calling for only statewide studies of bullying have moved through the Houses. But even these limited bills face a Senate vote and Governors' signatures.

To date, no U.S. state has had the courage to pass an anti-bullying (actually referred to as an "abusive work environment" in the text of the bill) bill into law. The U.S. is the last of the western democracies to ignore this workplace problem. Employers choose to ignore it because it is mostly (in 80% of cases) legal.

WBI website: workplacebullying.org
WBI-LC website: workplacebullyinglaw.org

Posted by Catherine Mattice
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11:37 AM EST

This is great advice. But it's missing something.

Most of the advice you'll find on dealing with a bully is all about just that, dealing with a bully via HR, documentation, law suits, etc. But how about good ol' fashioned taking a look at ourselves first. Ask yourself why you're being picked on instead of other people in the office. What is it about YOUR particular relationship with the bully that is turning it into such a negative experience. What signals are you sending the bully with your communication style? Do you fail to make eye contact with him or her? Are your shoulders hunched over instead of pushed back in a manner of pride?

In other words, as much as it hurts to take some responsibility in what's happening to you, you are not an innocent passerby in your life. You play SOME part in the interaction and communication processes at play here. When you take responsibility for what's happening to you, it's easier to make a change. When you blame someone else for what's happening to you, you feel like you have no control over the situation and change becomes impossible.

Victor Frankl, a neurologist and psyciatrist once said, "The last of the human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." Another favorite, Wayne Dyer says, "When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change."

It's easy to blame the bully for their horrible treatment. But find out what part you play, take responsibility for it, and make a change in your life. I'm certainly not saying it's your fault you are bullied or that you deserve it, but I am saying you have the power to change your situation. Absolutely.

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 12:52 PM EST

Gary, thank you for your comment. I apologize for stating the bill was enacted based on an article I read. Upon further research I see that the bill was *introduced* and pending.

I have edited my post above to reflect that information as well. Sorry for the confusion.

Again, thank you for your comment!

Comments for this article are closed.

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