By Valerie Cade CSP | December 14, 2011
We receive many email questions from all over the world. I thought this one was most important to address:
Who decides if someone is being bullied at work? Wouldn’t a target just over-react and label the behavior as bullying?
Your question is an interesting one. It has to do with the reality of the target, and the reality of the bully (the bully knowingly targets an individual with disrespectful behavior repeatedly).
In my book, “Bully Free at Work”, I ask each target to keep a detailed journal of observed behaviors from a bully, or bullies (i.e.) mobbing. This is done to demonstrate a pattern, as opposed to a one-time occurrence. In addition, it also shows the intensity of disrespect.
One aspect to consider is the impact of the bullying on the target. Some people who may suffer from lower forms of self esteem may experience bullying as more severe. However, many individuals with healthy self esteem also experience bullying behavior, and the experience is severe, causing harm to the target.
Separating the experience of the target from the bullying behavior is also important. For example, you could have a resilient person who handles excessive verbal abuse attacks, is denied promotions ‘without any cause’, and is purposefully left out of meetings in order to decrease the information power necessary to do their job; and yet he or she somehow manages to rise above all this. Just because the target is able to rise above this does not minimize the behavior of the bully. It is still bullying.
Bullying is repeated, deliberate disrespectful behavior toward another. The word ‘disrespectful’ has to be defined in order for each workplace to have a sense of allowable behaviors and non-allowable behaviors.
There are people who exhibit difficult behaviors and who are not targeting anyone; this is not bullying. There are people who are very sensitive and suffer from lower levels of self esteem and may not take responsibility for their situations at work, who are victims, so to speak. Although this victim’s personal experience may feel severe, the behavior directed may not be bullying. And there are good people working diligently, who are being targeted repeatedly and trying to cope as best as they can. I will repeat once again: anyone who is knowingly targeting another in order to cause harm is bullying. Understanding the difference is key.
Respectful behaviors are best. Any alternative should be held accountable.
Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of “Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!” which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com
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