Dodging Bullying: From Playground to Workplace

School based and cyber bullying has received a lot of attention in recent times. Unfortunately, bullying is no longer something that is limited to the playground with increasing reports about bullying in the workplace. Follow these simple steps in dodging bullying in the settings you may find yourself.

Identify the bullying behaviour

Bullying is a behaviour and not an identity. It reflects persistent repeated intentional behaviour that hurts, harms, or humiliates a person with less power. Power can be determined by their physical attributes, numbers in the group, confidence, social skills, status, or influence. Sometimes bullying is blatantly obvious,  but there are other times where the bullying can be so subtle that you almost don’t notice it!

Establish sound group rules

At school, you would want the school or class culture to have a clear understanding of what acceptable behaviour looks like. At work, it is important to review and revisit your definitions of professional interactions. Be specific (e.g. say uplifting things about each other up in meetings, and behind each other’s backs). You don’t want vague statements that are open to interpretation (e.g. be civil). When you have a group buying into the same values of acceptable behaviour, it is easier to address behaviour that doesn’t align.

Immediately address bullying behaviour

When you are in a safe location (public enough to not get hurt, private enough to minimize public shame), point out the inappropriate behaviour as it happens. It is also advisable to keep a written record of factual events (what happened, when, who was there) along with a record of what you did to address it. This comes in useful when the behaviour does not stop and it needs to be escalated to superiors.

Here is an excellent script to help you speak up about the bullying behaviour.

Don’t be a by stander

Persons who witness bullying and does nothing about it is as guilty as the perpetrator! Speak up and point out the inappropriate behaviour. Check in on the victim to see if they need any support: encourage them to confront the behaviour as explained above or read on for more suggestions on managing conflict and effective communication.

Should you wish to workshop your school or company’s anti-bullying strategies, please contact me.