1. What is bullying?
Bullying is repeated, aggressive (verbal and non-verbal) behavior meant to degrade/humiliate/threaten/sabotage those not as powerful as the bully. Bullying is especially common in 'closed' environments such as schools, offices/workplaces or members-only websites (although with the rise of social media and/or anonymous/fake accounts, people say all sorts of nasty things to other people).
In short, bullying is a cowardly activity.
2. Bullying types
Common examples of bullying include rumors and gossip, threats, physical/verbal attacks, and deliberate exclusion from groups/activities. Some common bullying types include:
- Deliberate isolation/ignoring: This is very common and especially insidious. Workplace bullying often involve superiors not involving the target in important decisions and activities.
- Overwork: Givving too much work, putting extra pressure, 'unmeetable' deadlines, and also disrupting all the time.
- Mental destabilization: No acknowledging contribution/good work, pointing out (unimportant) mistakes, giving impossible targets, openly criticizing in front of others, etc.
- Threat to 'personal standing': Name calling, open insults, jokes, intimidations, making us look dishonest/unreliable (attack on integrity/reliability) etc.
- Threat to 'professional status': This is especially rampant in workplaces, where bully bosses/slightly senior colleagues engage in meaningless accusations, belittling opinions and contributions, and constant intimidation of starting disciplinary/competency-lacking actions.
3. Bullying tactics
The 25 most common workplace bullying tactics are:
- Falsely accusing someone of 'errors' (71%).
- Staring, glaring, non-verbally intimidating, showing hostility (68%).
- Unjustly discounting the person's thoughts or feelings ('oh, that's silly') in meetings (64%).
- Using the 'silent treatment' to 'ice out' and separate from others (64%).
- Showing presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group (61%).
- Making-up rules on the fly that even she/he did not follow (61%).
- Dis-regardIng satisfactory or exemplary quality of completed work despite evidence (discrediting) (58%).
- Harshly and constantly criticizing having a different standard for the target (57%).
- Starting, or failing to stop, destructive rumors or gossip about the person (56%).
- Encouraging people to turn against the person being tormented (55%).
- Singling out and isolating one person from other coworkers, either socially or physically (54%).
- Publicly displaying gross, undignified, but not illegal, behavior (53%).
- Yelling, screaming, throwing tantrums in front of others to humiliate a person (53%).
- Stealing credit for work done by others (plagiarism) (47%).
- Abusing the evaluation process by lying about the person's performance (46%).
- Declaring the target 'insubordinate' for failing to follow arbitrary commands (46%).
- Using confidential information about a person to humiliate privately or publicly (45%).
- Retaliating against the person after a complaint was filed (45%).
- Making verbal put-downs/insults based on gender, race, accent, age or language, disability (44%).
- Assigning undesirable work as 'punishment' (44%).
- Creating unrealistic demands (workload, deadlines, duties) for person singled out (44%).
- Launching a baseless campaign to oust the person; effort not stopped by the employer (43%).
- Encouraging the person to quit or transfer rather than to face more mistreatment (43%).
- Sabotaging the person's contribution to a team goal and reward (41%).
- Ensuring failure of person's project by not performing required tasks, such as sign-offs, taking calls, working with collaborators (40%)
(Source: Workplace Bullying Institute)
4. Bullying effects
The most common effects of persistent bullying on victims are:
The bad effects
- Suicide: Borne out of depression as a result of bullying
- Violence: Lashing out physically against the bully, or against people who never helped, or suppressing all the anger inside and lashing out big sometime later in life. Bullying can scar people for life.
- Lack/loss of self-esteem: Being constantly battered down, in public, can take the will out of best among us. And once our self-confidence is broken we can even tolerate and condone bullying.
The good effect (this is controversial though)
- Bullying may teach people to stand up for themselves, as well as learn to use other coping tactics - asking for help, not taking it personally (pitying the bully for his/her problems), etc.I repeat, the positive effects of bullying may be anecdotal only, it is not a 'proven'.
5. Dealing with bullying
1. Tell yourself that the problem is with them, not with you: The workplace bully is thought to be 'kiss up, kick down' kind of person, who always keeps the bosses pleased and thus gets immunity for their nefarious behavior towards their juniors. Bullies are often unhappy people.
2. Bullying masked as a joke: This is quite common in the workplace, and the difference can be subtle. Whenever you feel demeaned bu their words, disempowered by their actions, or when you think the joke has become 'personal' and hurting, you know they have crossed the line.
Bosses will often disguise their bullying in form of 'harmless joke' but their comment (often made publicly) will destroy your confidence.
3. Confronting a bully: When a bully is a boss, it may be difficult to get deliverance (often bully bosses have backup from the top). Generally, you should confront the bully, tell them what you have observed, starting your sentences assertively with 'I...' and what their impact has been on you, affecting your performance as well as the team's.
4. Find a support-group of family/colleagues/seniors as soon as possible: This will give some mental backup, which is very important.
5. Record their actions: Capture it on phone, archive hurting messages, and document stuff. The bully boss's seniors might not support you initially if the bully is their favorite, but recorded stuff carries power, and can also help with a legal case, if things go too far.
Cyberbullying: Bullying done using internet, mobile networks and other technological methods. U.S. law defines cyberbullying as , 'cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.'
The rise of social networks and smartphones has made bullying more pervasive, especially among school-going teenagers.
If you're horrible to me, I'm going to write a song about it, and you won't like it. That's how I operate.
- Taylor Swift
Never do a wrong thing to make a friend--or to keep one.
- Robert E. Lee
Things will get easier, people's minds will change, and you should be alive to see it.
- Ellen DeGeneres
Perhaps it is only human nature to inflict suffering on anything that will endure suffering, whether by reason of its genuine humility, or indifference, or sheer helplessness.
- Honoré de Balzac
Bullies like him were only strong while assured of victory; when faced with anyone more powerful, they turned into fawning sycophants, desperate to prove themselves.
- Jordan L. Hawk
Thank you for reading.
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