Facts about Bullying

What is a bully, and what are the typical characteristics? Here are some definitions from a wide sample of research that is attempting to address the problem. This is an excerpt of facts regarding bullying from the 2003 Report on Abusive Workplaces sponsored by the WBTI; the principal investigator was Gary Namie, PhD:

  • • Bullying is the repeated, health endangering mistreatment of a person (the target) by a cruel perpetrator, the bully.
  • • It is best understood by the bully's behaviors—acts of commission and omission— which are all driven by the bully's need to control other people.
  • • Initially involves the bully deciding who is targeted, when, and where and psychological violence inflicted. Later, others may be coerced to participate in the assault.
  • • Illegitimate behavior as opposed to tough behavior, it interferes with an employee's work production and the employer's business interests.
  • • It escalates from 1:1 harassment before being reported followed by a limited or nonexistent employer response, eventually engulfing an entire work unit in fear, paralyzing productivity.

The following are some of the characteristics that have been recognized by the same institute in a report titled US Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000. Dr. Gary Namie was the research director:

  • • Screaming, yelling, public attempts to humiliate, seeking to do battle when and where he or she chooses, needs to compete and win to feel good.
  • • Controls all resources (time, budget, support, and training) so as to prevent you from being successful at your job, undermining, set you up to fail.
  • • Constant, personal verbal assaults on your character, name calling, belittling, zealous attention to unimportant details, committed to systematic destruction of your confidence in your competence.
  • • Manipulates the impression others have of you, splits the work group into taking sides, and defames you with higher-up and at next job, killing your reputation.
  • • Bullies prefer public sites in front of witnesses for humiliating their targets. Occasionally the bullying was private and sometimes behind closed doors with the intent of being heard.

The following are the results of a study on bullying from the Mental Health Association of New South Wales, Australia, published by the Mental Health Information Service in conjunction with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Workplace bullying is a serious safety and health hazard. It is usually characterized by the following:

  • • Unreasonable demands and impossible targets
  • • Restrictive and petty work rules
  • • Being required to perform tasks without adequate training
  • • Being forced to stay back to finish work or additional tasks
  • • Compulsory overtime, unfair work schedules or allocation of work
  • • Constant intrusive surveillance or monitoring
  • • Having no say in how your job is done
  • • Interference with personal belongings or sabotage of work
  • • Shouting or using abusive language
  • • Open or implied threat of termination or demotion
  • • Oppressive, unhappy work environment
  • • People being afraid to speak up about conditions, behaviors, or health and safety
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