Bullying doesn’t just happen on playgrounds — it’s also a rampant problem in the workplace.
He says bullying is not limited to physical forms, such as shoving or hitting, either. Seventy-nine per cent of bullying involves emotional attacks, such as biting sarcasm or malicious gossip. “Bullying occurs anytime you’re feeling attacked, repeatedly, by the same person,” Maxfield explains.
In the workplace, however, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you’re dealing with a true bully or a demanding boss. Here are five behaviours to look out for:
1. Sarcasm and/or name calling
Seen most often in the high tech and software industries, these bullies constantly make snarky, cutting comments or dish out insults under the guise of sarcasm, Maxfield says. Even if someone truly believes they’re being funny or relatable by using sarcasm, the target of it rarely feels that way, making it important to speak up if you feel uncomfortable by a colleague’s comments.
2. Silent treatment
These bullies purposely give coworkers the cold shoulder or exclude them from events and activities, and are most often seen in service workers or the healthcare industry, he explains.
Gossiping bullies, found most often in healthcare and call centres, spread hurtful rumours and misinformation about coworkers, says Maxfield. As opposed to mere watercooler gossip, these bullies start rumours maliciously and intentionally, in order to put people down or cast others in a bad light.
This type of bullying, found most frequently in the government and defence industries, includes any kind of threatening and/or intimidation, he says. This could include anything from a boss that threatens the jobs of her employees when she doesn’t get her way to someone who makes hurtful comments such as, “You’re just a bean counter.”
5. Physical assault
Physical assault doesn’t always mean an all-out brawl: it can be anything as simple as shoving or slamming doors on coworkers, Maxfield explains. This type of bullying occurs most often in labour industries.
Have you witnessed bullying in your workplace? Are you a victim of it? Putting an end to workplace bullying begins with employees speaking up.
“The mistake people make is they imagine all the terrible things that would happen if they spoke up to the bully,” Maxfield says. “They talk themselves out of saying anything.”
Instead of staying silent, Maxfield challenges victims of bullying to reverse their thinking and consider the consequences of not saying anything, thus allowing the problem to continue.
“Once we recognise bullying behaviours in ourselves and others, we can work toward reducing the startling number of people who deal with it at work,” he concludes.
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