Tactic of Workplace Bullying There are many factors that contribute to workplace bullying. There are a variety of reasons why a person may bully another person in the workplace. These reasons may include:
- A person may use their position of power or their physical dominance over those who are perceived to be weaker. The bullying is often dependent upon the perceived power of the bully over their victim.
- Bullies may put down others to boost their own self-esteem and confidence to help deal with personal feelings of inadequacy.
- An individual or group may become targets of workplace bullying because others perceive them as being new or different.
- Some people bully others because the other person is perceived as a threat to them personally, or a threat to their position within the company.
- The culture of a workplace is often shown by its values, beliefs and what is considered to be normal behaviour. When the culture is positive it encourages individuals to adopt appropriate behaviours that remote respect of others. Conversely, employees may find themselves in a negative culture where inappropriate behaviours and attitudes are encouraged or condoned by management and bullying is seen as normal behaviour for the majority of people in the workplace.
While bullying is a form of aggression, the actions can be both obvious and subtle. is sometimes hard to know if bullying is happening at the workplace. It is important to note that the following is not a checklist, nor does it mention all forms of bullying. This list is included as a way of showing some of the ways bullying may happen in a workplace. Also remember that bullying is usually considered to be a pattern of behaviour where one or more incidents will help show that bullying is taking place. Examples include:
- Any form of undermining behaviour
- Assigning unreasonable duties or workload which are unfavourable to one person (in a way that creates unnecessary pressure)
- Being quick to criticize and slow to praise
- Being refused annual leave, sick leave and especially compassionate/bereavement leave without a genuine and a fair reason why.
- Being subjected and called to disciplinary hearings/meetings without absolute proof and when they are suddenly out of the blue and especially WITHOUT moral support e.g. a Union rep/parent/friend/trusted colleague/other trusted person with you.
- Belittling a person’s opinions
- Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion
- Character assassination
- Constantly changing work guidelines
- Criticizing a person persistently or constantly
- Deliberately withholding/giving out false information to make a competent worker look unprofessional and in order to make him/her fail. Discrimination and/or unfair treatment to someone because of disability/medical condition/age/race/ethnicity/how they live and sensitive issues about someone e.g. HIV positive and sexual orientation e.g. gay/lesbian etc.
- Establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail
- Excluding or isolating someone socially
- Harassment/stalking e.g. following the person around, always hanging around outside his/her home and/or workplace, favourite haunts like their local pub, shops etc. Persistently emailing, phoning up, text messaging, writing typed/handwritten letters, Instant messaging, Face-booking, and looking at someone’s personal and confidential information/giving out personal and confidential information without consent.
- Intimidating a person
- Intruding on a person’s privacy by pestering, spying or stalking
- Invasion of privacy e.g. tampering with someone’s personal effects, asking someone intrusive personal questions, e.g. about their love-life.
- Making jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’ by spoken word or e-mail
- Making someone and/or other people feel unwelcome and not letting them join in e.g. being in a clique and cliquey behaviours and being snobby and/or elitist. Another hurtful form of unwelcomeness is vilification.
- Making someone feel unvalued, for example making someone feel the work they do is unimportant and that if they were to leave it would be no consequence to the company. This can be used as a threat, suggesting that the person is at constant risk of losing their job as they could easily be replaced. The bully will often assert their own power by suggesting that they themselves are far more valuable, possibly even that their value allow them to get away with bullying other, less valuable employees.
- Physically abusing, assault or threatening abuse
- Playing practical jokes on someone/telling jokes to someone which they do not like and if it makes them uncomfortable and when they and others are NOT laughing and they DO NOT find it funny (especially those based on sex, body and race).
- Public humiliation(s)
- Regularly threatened with dismissal
- Removing areas of responsibilities without cause
- Sexual harassment of any kind e.g. persistently asking out for dates/romances, touching/staring at someone’s body, forcing/coercing to have sex,(especially private areas), displaying explicit/pornographic pictures, cartoons, DVDs, videos, saying sexual comments and any unwanted touches (that the person isn’t comfortable with) e.g. brushing against, hugging, kissing, patting, catcalls, wolf-whistling etc.
- Smear campaigns
- Social ostracism
- Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, innuendo that is not true and stories and/or lies about someone and/or his/her friends/family.
- Taking credit for work that another has done
- Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment.
- Under work – creating a feeling of uselessness
- Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work
- Unfairly passed over for promotion or denied training opportunities
- Unfairly treated
- Unkind remarks about someone’s family, lifestyle, body, appearance, shape, weight, clothes and their personal life.
- Unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment
- Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information
- Yelling or using profanity
- Bullying behaviour can be obvious and aggressive
Examples could include:
- Abusive, insulting or offensive language;
- Behaviour or language that frightens, humiliates, belittles or degrades, including criticism that is delivered with yelling and screaming;
- Teasing or regularly making someone the brunt of practical jokes;
- Displaying material that is degrading or offending;
- Spreading gossip, rumours and innuendo of a malicious nature. Violence, assault and stalking are extreme forms of bullying that constitute a criminal offence. Such behaviour should be reported directly to the police.
- Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Harmful or offensive initiation practices;
- Physical assault or unlawful threats.
Workplace bullying can also be subtle and may include behaviour such as: • Deliberately excluding, isolating or marginalizing a person from normal workplace activities • Intruding on a person’s space by pestering, spying or tampering with their personal effects or work equipment • Intimidating a person through inappropriate personal comments, belittling opinions or unjustified criticism Covert behaviour that undermines, treats less favourably or disempowers others is also bullying. For example: • Deliberately denying access to information, consultation or resources • Ignoring or isolating a person • Overloading a person with work • Setting tasks that are unreasonably beyond a person’s ability • Setting timelines that are very difficult to achieve, or constantly changing deadlines • Unfair treatment in relation to accessing workplace entitlements, such as leave or training