When we were growing up, we often found ourselves in situations of bullying. Usually instigated by a classmate or friend, we did our best to cope with the situation and believed our parents and the psychiatrists who told us that bullying comes to an end. That as a bully ages, he grows away from that phase in his life and he learns how to treat those around him. That idealistic scenario is just that. The reality is that these bullies keep at it as they mature and become the office / workplace bullies whom we then have to face and learn to deal with on a totally different platform. Knowing that workplace bullies had to come from somewhere, they had to develop that negative trait of their personality during some point in their lives, my position on the matter is that these workplace bullies are a product of both the situation and an already flawed personality.
As of March 2008, research done by Zogby International indicates that at least 37% of the American workforce has experienced one form or another of workplace bullying. Gary and Ruth Namie, authors of the book “ The Bully At Work: What You Can Do To Stop The Hurt And Reclaim Your Dignity On The Job”, have indicated that workplace bullies cane be placed under 4 separate categories namely, chronic, opportunistic, accidental, and substance abusing. But before the bully gets classified as one of the 4, he starts developing the bully stance in any of 3 ways. These are: “through personality development, by reading cues in a competitive, political workplace, and by accident.”
In order to understand how these 4 types of workplace bullies come about, we have to first understand their differences. First of all, A Chronic Bully can be defined as the workplace bully who is created by a flawed personality. He is not conscious of the fact that he bullies the people around him. He has been a bully all his life so that his actions are second nature to him so that he does not realize that he is a bully. He is incapable of changing himself because of it.
The opportunistic bully on the other hand bullies people depending upon what his own personal agenda is. He tends to bully a person whom he feels is a threat to his future success in the office. It is believe that the opportunistic bully is the most prevalent in offices due to the heavily competitive atmosphere of the workplace. It is this kind of bully who is the product of the workplace situation more than anything else.
The most disturbing type of bully would have to be the Substance Abusing bullies. According to the same book by Namie, 74% of the workforce are substance abusers. They tend to be the loudest kind of bullies who cannot control their social behaviors anymore and are usually found among the workplace bosses. According to the authors, these poses a real problem because 89 % of workplace bullies are people in positions of authority within companies.
According to a study done by Sandy Hershcovis in her interview “ Workplace Bullying ‘Epidemic’ Worse Than Sexual Harassment”, most people attribute workplace bullying to to a personality conflict. She explains that :
A lot of people say, ‘Oh it’s just a personality conflict, they don’t really mean it.’ But when you’re in the situation – and many of us have been – it’s pretty horrible.”
If we were to take this explanation on its shallow value, then this would explain why workplace bullies are created by a flawed personality first and foremost. The social situations that the bully finds himself in merely enhance his personality conflict and allows him or her to expand and mirror his personality disorder unto others.
Keeping the aforementioned information in mind, we can therefore conclude that workplace bullies are a product of their office work scenario / situation along with the already flawed personality of the individual. Therefore, steps should be taken to limit or prevent its occurrence in the workplace. For example, Sweden and Quebec have anti-bullying laws in place to protect the workers from such acts. Unfortunately, the United States does not have any laws that would protect rank and file employees from work place bullying. In the United Kingdom, the Hampshire solicitor has made some very commendable suggestions to end bullying in the workplace such as:
Create and implement a clear, widespread ant-bullying and harassment policy that can be read and communicated by all staff members. Ensure that this policy is zero tolerance and that any complaints made will be treated with the utmost severity and the company will investigate all cases and act accordingly. Prevent bullying from happening in the first place. Team building days and social events are always appreciated and enjoyed. This can raise staff morale, as-well-as help strengthen inter-office relationships.
In my opinion, regular psychological evaluations are also necessary to insure that the workplace is not becoming a breeding ground for bullies. By catching the signals of a developing bully, the workplace will remain a stress free and productivity inducing environment. After all, in the end, bullies are created by a combination of the work and personality development factors.
Bibliography / References
“37% Of Americans Report Being Bullied On The Job”. PsychCentral. 2008. Web.
“When The Bully Sits In The Next Cubicle”. The New York Times. 2008. Web.
“Bullying Awareness – How To Become Aware Of & Clamp Down On Office Fensome, Chris. “Bullying Awareness – How To bEcome Aware Of & Clamp Down On Office Bullying”. Ezine Articles. 2008. Web.
“The Bully At Work”. PrintNPost. 2007. Web.
“Workplace Bullying ‘Epidemic’ Worse Than Sexual Harassment”. LiveScience. 2008. Web.