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Understanding Workplace Bullying

Posted on Apr 18 2014 under Blog Posts

Bullying-StopAre you a member of the 28% of Americans who are not aware of workplace bullying?

 Do you know the signs of workplace bullying? Are you aware of the effect workplace bullying has on its target the workplace, or those who witness? Your questions to workplace bullying are answered here!

Workplace bullying takes place between one person or a group of people who single out another to taunt, harass, make fun of etc.  in the workplace. The key to identifying workplace bullying is that it is persistent and enduring over a period of months. This type of behavior can cause the individuals witnessing such behaviors to feel uncomfortable.  According to workplacebullying.org 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work.  This is an alarming number.  To prevent this number from increasing and to raise awareness, bullyingstatistics.org provides some ways to identify bullying:

Workplace bullying can take many forms:

  • Shouting or swearing at an employee or otherwise verbally abusing him or her
  • One employee being singled out for unjustified criticism or blame
  • An employee being excluded from company activities or having his or her work or contributions purposefully ignored
  • Language or actions that embarrass or humiliate an employee
  • Practical jokes, especially if they occur repeatedly to the same person

There are also some things that are usually Not considered workplace bullying:

·       A manager who shouts at or criticizes all of his or her employees. While this is a sign of a bad manager and makes a workplace unpleasant, it is not bullying unless only one or a few individuals are being unjustifiably singled out.

·        A co-worker who is critical of everything, always takes credit for successes and passes blame for mistakes, and/or frequently makes hurtful comments or jokes about others. Unless these actions are directed at one individual, they represent poor social skills, but not bullying.

·        Negative comments or actions that are based on a person’s gender, ethnicity, religion, or other legally protected status. This is considered harassment and, unlike bullying, is illegal in the United States and gives the victim legal rights to stop the behavior.

Workplace bullying can have serious negative effects on employees such as:

  • Stress
  • Absenteeism and low productivity
  • Lowered self-esteem and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive upsets
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Isolation from co-workers
  • Trouble with relationships due to stress over work
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

Workplace bullying is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Pay attention to the signs and the effects and be sure to educate those who are unaware to keeps the 28% number from increasing.  

Stayed tuned for next week’s blog for tips on what to do if you witness or become a target of workplace bullying.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student

University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

7 Replies to “Understanding Workplace Bullying”

  1. Tierra Henry said on April 21st, 2014 at 2:18 AM

    Great article Yvette! Pointing out the negative effects of bullying are very important. In addition to the things people wouldn’t normally recognize as bullying. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Yvette Jenkins said on April 21st, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Hi Tierra, I am glad you liked the article. Thanks for your continued support!


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