Bullying in the workplace

Seminar review- NSW Christadelphian Support Network- November 2011.

This topic generated a great deal of interest when it was introduced as part of a larger discussion on bullying earlier in the year.

Christine Smith used her personal experience to outline the stresses caused by workplace bullying, and some of the strategies she had found useful in dealing with it.

Main features of bullying include repeated and consistent inappropriate behaviour/physical violence, seen as hostile by the recipient. There is usually a power imbalance and the behaviour tends to escalate. The person being bullied becomes stigmatised.

Behaviours include ridicule, keeping a constant eye on someone, questioning someone's professional ability, spreading damaging rumours, explosive outbursts and threats.

These actions may seem trivial until a repeated pattern undermines the individual's confidence, self-esteem and health. In extreme cases it has led to people committing suicide.

Feeling Down"Brodie's Law" which makes it a criminal offence to victimise someone came about as the result of a young woman taking her own life due to workplace harassment.

Bullying occurs at the whim of the bully - where s/he feels inadequate, where leadership is poor or where the workplace culture gives permission. It is sustained by secrecy, denial, ignorance and a climate of fear. It can lead to the premature departure of the target and thus reward the perpetrator.

Others may join in because they are afraid they might be bullied themselves, or they may want to placate the bully in order to gain an advantage.

Normal conflict resolution strategies do not always work because the bully is not interested in collaboration. Their goal is not about reaching a win/win, but about there being a winner and a loser.

Common mistakes made by the victim include blaming oneself, waiting too long to take action, relying solely on "in house" assistance, not keeping records, acting impulsively.

Whilst it is impossible to ensure that you are never bullied there are things you can do to minimise the harm caused.

1) Keep a record of the facts - what happened? Who said what to whom? 
2) Reach out for help - talk to someone. Preferably someone outside your workplace. 
3)Trust in the Lord: Prov.3:16 "In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths."