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October 25, 2016

Bullying: The Truth

Yolande Conradie

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Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk

Where: Twitter

When: Friday, Oct 28 2016 @ 1pm EST (6pm BST)

Topic: The Truth About Bullying

Host: @Mind_Tools

About This Week's Chat About Bullying

Has someone ever directed seemingly innocuous jokes or remarks at you, when what he or she was doing actually amounted to bullying? Earlier this year, I saw the devastating effect of indirect bullying on a whole team.

A company called me to help a female employee who was often on the receiving end of aggressive humor. Let's call the other person the "joker." He found it funny to make personally humiliating remarks in a "joking" way, such as, "Ask this ugly lady what she'd like to drink." Whenever the lady in question aired an opinion, the joker's favorite remark was, "We'll have to shorten your chain so you're confined to the kitchen again." The victim was very embarrassed by the "jokes" and the bully seemed to feed off her embarrassment.

Of course there was raucous laughter from the mob sucking up to the bully-boss, but there were awkward silences among the colleagues who saw the behavior for what it was. Whenever someone confronted him about it, they heard, "Lighten up! It's just a joke," or, "Don't you have a sense of humor?"

He also liked giving people a fright, making them feel uncomfortable or asking them awkward questions in front of others at social gatherings. He was selective with his targets: it was always the same people and never one of his friends.

His behavior led to an overall feeling of distrust - staff members refusing to deal with him directly and many actively disengaging.

In our Twitter poll last week, we asked people who have been bullied at work how they reacted to it.  Thirty one percent of the respondents said that they confronted the bully, and 22 percent reported the bully. A whopping 24 percent kept quiet about it, and 23 percent resigned from their job. It means that the bullies of almost half the people who participated in the poll likely got away with it. I don't know about you, but that thought doesn't sit comfortably with me. See the poll here.

Research shows that between ten and 30 percent of people in the U.K. and U.S. are bullied at work at some point. In Australia this figure rises to between 50 and 57 percent, while a country like South Africa sits at 77 percent.

Based on the statistics above, we know that there are many people who dread going to work. They feel sick with stress, live in a constant state of anxiety, and can't perform at their best. They feel ashamed, alone and depressed.

There are many hidden or indirect forms of bullying. In this week's #MTtalk chat titled, "The Truth About Bullying," we will put direct and indirect workplace bullying under the spotlight. Here are some questions to get you thinking in the meantime:

  • What are some indirect forms of bullying?
  • What does the bully get out of bullying people?
  • How does your workplace deal with bullying?
  • If you've been a victim of bullying, how have you dealt with it?
  • How can you support a victim of bullying?
  • What role can a mediator play in stopping bullying?


To help you to prepare for this week's chat, we've compiled a list of resources for you to browse through:

At Mind Tools we like hearing thoughts and ideas from people all over the world. We'd like you to share your thoughts, ideas and experience in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1pm EST (6pm BST/10:30pm IST). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!

How to Join

Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We'll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on "All Tweets" and you'll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hash tag #MTtalk in your responses.

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