As a professional woman, succeeding in the workplace (especially in male dominated fields) is hard enough … so why are we still faced with the extra pressures of bullying by peers? Especially other women?!
Workplace bullying involves the repetitive, prolonged abuse of power; unwelcome, unreasonable, escalating behaviours which are aggressively directed at one or more workers and cause humiliation, offence, intimidation and distress. It places the health, wellbeing, safety and career of the individual at risk, interferes with job performance, and creates a toxic working environment.
About one in six people are bullied at work; in some industries the figure is higher, ranging from 25%, 50% to 97% (Duncan and Riley study).
Types of Bullying Behaviour
According to experts Einarsen and Zapf there are five main types of bullying behaviour:
- Work related;
- Personal attacks;
- Social isolation;
- Verbal threats;
- Spreading rumours.
They further divide bullying into:
Aggressive: Screaming, threatening and blaming – all easily noticed.
Passive: Subtle, camouflaged, hard to identify, divisive and undermining.
Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute, suggests that the following are the most common 25 tactics used by workplace bullies.
- Falsely accused someone of “errors” not actually made (71%).
- Stared, glared, was non-verbally intimidating and was clearly showing hostility (68%).
- Discounted the person’s thoughts or feelings (“oh, that’s silly”) in meetings (64%).
- Used the “silent treatment” to “ice out” and separate from others (64%).
- Exhibited presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group (61%).
- Made up own rules on the fly that even s/he did not follow (61%).
- Disregarded satisfactory or exemplary quality of completed work despite evidence (58%).
- Harshly and constantly criticised having a different standard for the target (57%).
- Started, or failed to stop, destructive rumours or gossip about the person (56%).
- Encouraged people to turn against the person being tormented (55%).
- Singled out and isolated one person from co-workers, either socially or physically (54%).
- Publicly displayed gross, undignified, but not illegal, behavior (53%).
- Yelled, screamed, threw tantrums in front of others to humiliate a person (53%).
- Stole credit for work done by others (plagiarism) (47%).
- Abused the evaluation process by lying about the person’s performance (46%).
- Declared target “insubordinate” for failing to follow arbitrary commands (46%).
- Used confidential information about a person to humiliate privately or publicly (45%).
- Retaliated against the person after a complaint was filed (45%).
- Made verbal put-downs/insults based on gender, age, race, accent or language, disability (44%).
- Assigned undesirable work as punishment (44%).
- Created unrealistic demands (workload, deadlines, duties) for person singled out (44%).
- Launched a baseless campaign to oust the person; effort not stopped by the employer (43%).
- Encouraged the person to quit or transfer rather than to face more mistreatment (43%).
- Sabotaged the person’s contribution to a team goal and reward (41%).
- Ensured failure of person’s project by not performing required tasks, such as sign-offs, taking calls, working with collaborators (40%)
The Impacts of Workplace Bullying
The individual consequences of being the target of workplace bullying can vary significantly and can include:
- Physical: health issues, weight gain/loss, heart attacks, stress-induced illness.
- Intellectual: concentration affected, reduced motivation, memory difficulties, difficulty learning new material.
- Emotional: fear/panic attacks, anger, depression, anxiety disorders, loss of identity/sense of self, post traumatic stress/acute stress disorder.
- Financial: loss of income, loss of promotion, less superannuation, forced retirement/resignation.
- Family/Social: social isolation, relationship difficulties, lowered sex drive.
The impact of bullying is not only felt by the individual, but by the organisations we work for. The loss to organisations has been calculated at between $AUD 17 and 36 billion for Australia, a relatively small population! (Workplace Bullying Project Team, Griffith’s University, 2001).
I have included some fantastic links below which provide more information and resources to support victims, managers and organisations to manage workplace bullying.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing workplace bullying, please make an appointment with a psychologist to help you manage the workplace bullying and the effects it has having on your life.
Author: Lauren Brockie, B Beh Sc, PG Dip Psych, M Psych (Sport & Exercise), M Psych (Clinical), MAPS.
Lauren Brockie is an experienced psychologist, working with adults, couples, adolescents, and children. With a warm and practical approach, Lauren enjoys supporting and challenging her clients, to assist them in reaching their goals.
To make an appointment with Logan Psychologist Lauren Brockie, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.