Bullying isn't just a schoolyard problem. When we hear talk of bullies, generally the first image that comes to mind is a rough group of kids who make life miserable for other classmates. Their crimes include stealing lunch money, locking kids in lockers, or threatening physical harm unless they are allowed to copy the victim's homework. Sometimes they seem to engage in malicious behavior just for the joy of it.
Eventually kids grow up – the bullies and the bullied. They go on to get jobs and they leave the playground antics behind. Don't they?
Unfortunately, no! From shouting at people in the boardroom to snide comments, and even sabotaging others' work, bullying is alarmingly common.
Because of its prevalence, you need to know how to deal with bullying, both from the perspective of protecting yourself should you become a victim of it, and, as a coworker or observer, protecting others in your workplace from it. This article recaps on our interview with Dr Gary Namie, one of the world's foremost experts on surviving workplace bullying, and co-author of The Bully At Work.
As with any problem, the first step toward finding a solution requires understanding the issue.
Dr Namie defines bullying as "repeated, health-harming mistreatment of a target (the recipient) by a bully (the perpetrator)." This definition sets a high bar on what constitutes bullying, and Dr Namie is at pains to point out that simple rudeness or incivility does not, of itself, necessarily equate to bullying. Actual bullying behaviors take on many forms. Some of these are quite obvious; others you may not identify as bullying behavior even if you are the target.
Depending on the circumstances, frequency and consequences for health, examples of bullying can include:
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