BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE

What is bullying? Everyone’s definition of bullying is different.  Wikipedia says as follows:

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict.

Many of us have children and the bullying that occurs at schools today astounds me.  From verbal threats to physical attacks.  We all are asking “why is it getting worse?”  I don’t remember it being this bad when we were kids.

We can blame that fact that our children are getting older “quicker”.  Some of the things my 8-year-old comes home and tells me are things that I was saying when I was 15, not 8.  Where are they learning this – at school – at their PCYC – on the internet?

This could very well be true, but we learn by example. We learn by what has happened to us as children, and how NOT to treat children, or we teach our children how to behave as humanitarians.

This carries over to the workplace, and I, myself, am guilty of this as I am sure all of you are too, but simply not aware.  We come home at night and grab a glass of wine, and sit with our partners talking about our day, which sometimes involves talking about certain co-workers that have not met deadlines, not performed, or simply drove you to drink the entire bottle of wine.  Our children may be watching the TV, but they hear everything.  They think it is ok to talk about someone behind their back but do not have the filter that we have learnt, through age, to keep it behind closed doors.  Yes, we are telling our partners as a vent, but the children do not know this. They then think that it must be ok to talk about people behind each other’s backs.  Which then gets carried to the playground, which in turn creates a ripple effect that we now refer to as “bullying”.

We all have worked with that one person that sits at the office desk, or the lunch room, and speaks crudely about the “boss”, and then when the boss walks in and he/she says, “Hi boss how is your day”?  The moment the boss leaves he/she giggles and resumes speaking ill of the boss behind his/her back.  This is workplace bullying.  Someone will tell the boss – which again causes the ripple effect.  The difference is that we, as adults, in such a workplace situation can rid ourselves of these people. However, our children do not have the emotional intellect to do so.

Workplace bullying is therefore, unintentionally, being carried into our homes as we speak ill of our colleagues, and setting an example of poor behaviour to our children in allowing them to think it is OK.

Many people think of bullying as physical – “No boss I didn’t hit Tim with the stapler, I simply told him he was not smart enough to do the task at hand.”  What hurts Tim more?

We must be more mindful of what we say, and how we speak of others, to impressionable young children who simply want to be just like mummy and daddy. They are possibly following in our footsteps with behaviours we are setting.

Please be kind to your co-workers!

Lauren Kropp – Director – Real Strategix