- Business and Employment»
- Employment & Jobs
Work Place Bullying - The Hidden Industrial Disease
Books To Help The Bullied
What is Work Place Bullying?
Work Place Bullying is work trauma! It is one of the business world's dirtiest secrets - a silent epidemic that devastates the lives, careers, and families of millions. Those being bullied at work are more than merely overworked and under appreciated. The fear, shame, humiliationand loss of dignity that originate at work can creep into every other aspect of life. Those are the words of the foremost experts (Gary Namie, Phd and Ruth Namie, Phd) on this topic and for me recently having experienced being wrongfully dismissed due to the actions of a tormented female boss with the personality of an addict were the first words of understanding and hope that I had read in way too long a time.
In this lens I am going to illustrate the problem share my own inner feelings and attempt to show others experiencing this prolem that they are not alone, nor are they insane they should extinguish their suicidal thoughts and the feeling that there are no answers.
Introduction Photograph by Stephen J Parkin, others as stated.
Bully At Work
My Personal Experiences With Bullies
Included to Show How Past Experiences can Increase Your Vulnerability to Workplace Bullies
Most work place bullies originate early in life and become so due to an example set by parents, guardians, teachers, ministers and first employers etc. If the early example is repeated then the child learns the advantage to be gained from the undesirable behaviour. This is true for both the Bully and the Target.
My own first experience of being bullied was quite traumatic, as it occurred at the hands of a neghbours child that I had considered a friend. We were playing outside was a group of unsupervised children it was the fifties and in suburban Newcastle Upon Tyne (Forest Hall). At that time post war and still recovering from that trauma the rationing etc. parents felt it OK to leave children unattended whilst they drank coffee and chatted indoors. Fortunately that laissez faire attitude is dying out with greater awareness of the existence of bullies throughout society and the consequent risk of leaving a child unattended for any length of time at all.
Barry (the bully - a person I looked up to and trusted as my elder) was climbing up and walking along the top of our garden wall to show off to two of the neighbours children (Derek and Rita). They were impressed and I thinking nothing of it said that I could do it too, Barry scoffed and asked how I two or three years younger and shorter than he was even going to get on the wall? Well I showed him I stepped onto one of the rocks in the rock garden below the wall and then onto the wall. Naïve me! I had turned my back on Barry to do so and he promptly shoved me in the back (bullies are opportunists), so hard that I could not avoid falling onto the rocks and breaking my head open. Apart from being extremely painful in the subsequent curfuffle the adults appeared and I was promptly taken to the doctor for stitches and plastic skin to cover the abrasions, which hurt like hell!
There followed another lesson on bullying (bullies are liars), Barry denied he had pushed me and said I just fell losing my balance as I got on the wall. Both Derek and Rita denied having seen what happened (for fear of some unforeseen retaliation from Barry?) despite both having been stood behind him and to the right side with a clear view of what had taken place. Of course the adults were not interested in my side of the story and assumed that the other three were telling the truth. I learned the hardest and most incorrect lesson about bullies (It is not worth complaining - NOT!).
Now I am a very quiet personality a deep thinker and a problem solver. When we left Newcastle and moved to Harpenden I was six and my sister eight and a half. The new school in Harpenden received my school records and books first and assumed that they were those of my elder sister- not really surprising as she had taught me to read and write long before attending my first school. Now I learned that being quiet and keeping to yourself is not a good habit if you wish to avoid bullies. I was picked on yet again by the schoolyard bullies only this time I did not run for help, I quickly learned to defend myself, when I was punched I would punch back only a lot harder! This I was later to discover is also a mistake, many bullies will escalate their actions and/or bring in reinforcements. However for now the bullies avoided me and gave me space.
It would have been extremely easy at this stage for me to have become a bully myself, but due to being the second of four children my upbringing did at least teach me to protect the young and innocent and members of the opposite sex above myself. This attitude unfortunately is one that more accomplished bullies can and will use against you. I did however knock out one bully, and in the heat of the moment unintentionally nearly strangled another to death, only being saved by friends pulling me off when they saw him turning blue! I don't know why but neither ratted me out to the teachers or I may have been expelled! I hope you can see how even a mild mannered respectful child can easily end up in trouble due to the ministrations of a bully.
The next incident of note was after I had learned to ride a bike and learned to swim. I was still in primary school so under eleven. The bike I had was a hand me down which had been owned by two of the girls next door and my elder sister before I finally inherited it. I loved it despite being called names and bullied by kids that said I was a sissy. At this age I was a strong tall kid that looked to be well into my teens. After all I spent most of my time outdoors riding the bike, swimming, and playing with kids two or three years older than me. One day in Rothampstead Park I came across a group of three girls smoking beside the playground, I had visited on the way home from the swimming pool to play on the slide swings and roundabout. The girls started teasing me about the bike and I went over and told them they shouldn't smoke because it was bad for them. The next I knew the eldest (probably fourteen or fifteen) had grabbed me and thrown me to the ground had her hands round my throat and had called the second eldest over and she was holding a lit cigarette to my shoulder so that I could feel the heat but not quite touching me. I was told to behave and not to struggle. They had decided I was strong and muscular and they were going to have their way with me! I do not remember much because I passed out and I think my memory has wiped out the details. However all three of them raped me, and the only comment that stuck with me was the youngest saying "why was he not all hard like daddy?" To which the two elder girls said "he was alright for me!"
I hope you are as shocked and amazed as I was and still am. Their father was engaged in incest with all three girls! They had learnt from him that bullying behaviour of this type was OK. I can only wonder where they ended up. The next lesson was harder yet the girls ran off on completion of their act leaving me to dress myself and get on my bike to ride the six miles home. Huge lessons here, bullies are taught and created by other bullies their behaviour is in no way normal. There are no age or sex barriers they exist in all walks of society (statistics and latent tendency have no boundaries). I would love to hear from other men who were subjected to such degrading behaviour by women as I am sure many have suffered (way too long) in silence.
When I got home first no-one would believe me, my elder sister said "Lucky you you should have just laid back and enjoyed it!). My Mother did realise after a while that I was in trauma and called the Police, I remember the officer who came to the house seemed to think it funny (like my sister) and I felt he would do little to help. I was right after some time he returned to say they had checked the neighbourhood to the park and up to Batford, where the girls had said they were from, but could find no trace of three sisters as I had described who had been out together that day. That was the last we heard from the Police. Lesson - do not expect to be believed even when you tell the truth, non bullies can not put themselves in the mind set of the bully, any more that most of us could commit a murder and dismember the body. However, it does happen, and the Victim or Target should be respected and believed when they report their concerns.
The next incident saw me tackle a six foot bully who was smashing a smaller kid to pulp in front of our house. I got angry as I knew none of the adults would react, and the Police would not come fast enough. I took off my belt and laid into the taller kid with it, and I would not stop until he was on his knees pleading that he had had enough! Fortunately the adults that saw it realised I had probably just saved the smaller kids life and I was not treated as the villain. Jeremy's father even came and apologised to my father for his son's untoward behaviour. Strangely he and his younger brother Richard would often visit us at home on a friendly basis after that. I even ended up dating the little kids sister for several years after that.
I have also been targeted three times by workplace bullies, once in the UK and twice in Canada, and I want to tell you that having been a Victim/Target does not make it easier to handle if anything you are more likely to freeze like a bunny in the headlamps at night. The bullies always attack when you are most vulnerable and they have planned their strategy to avoid detection until it is too late. At work telltale signs can be exclusion from meetings, being asked to do work to tight deadlines that you have never been trained to do, being asked to work late without pay, being asked to do a task but the necessary information is withheld etc.
My first experience in the UK was whilst working for a major Insurance company I was systematically destroyed by my boss and the two levels above him because I had refused to say I would comply with a gag order during an audit by the Inland Revenue concerning the companies policies in respect of accounting for VAT (Value added Tax equivalent to Harmonised Sales Tax in Canada) on corporate expenses. I naively told them that I would answer all such questions completely and truthfully to the best of my knowledge in accordance with my accountancy code of ethics as I was sure they would too. Ha Ha.
That was the start of the end of my career with them. Information was withheld, nothing I did was ever good enough I was never told key information or decisions. I ended up so sick I collapsed at work. I was sent to a psychiatrist at their expense, who actually said I was handling the stress of the job extremely well but that this was the root cause of my issues he thought, they said I was probably suffering chronic fatigue and terminated me with six months pay. Even with the eleven days sick leave for this I was the staff member with the least sick days in the period I worked for them!
My Personal Experience With Bullies - Continued
Work Place Incidents in Canada
Fast forward a few years to Canada. I should explain that I am a BSc in Pure Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science. That I worked for Price Waterhouse and many of the major UK corporations as an Internal Auditor firstly Financial and later specialising as an Information Technology Auditor and Manager, my skills were considered state of the art and I was much sought after for my skills, personal ethics and experience. After losing my job at the Insurance Company I moved to Saudi Arabia for work and my first marriage broke down due to irreconcialable differences- quite probably related to the trauma and stress of being victimised by the bullies. Riyadh was kind to me and I was much appreciated for my skills becoming the first Auditor in my Bank ever to receive a management bonus, and I did it two years in a row! | Iwas also selected to be the Bank's representative on auditing matters at SAMA (Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency).
I included the background just so that anyone who is bullied will realise it is not them or their self worth that is in question they have merely become a Target. You will however quite likely feel suicidal and try to rationalise to yourself what you did wrong etc. etc. Just like in a marriage breakdown, but most of the time, here it is, you did absolutely nothing wrong! Being a Target happens to the intelligent, quiet worker that just wants to be left alone to do their job, usually you will be one of the better, if not the best worker in the field. That is why yiou are the target, because of the weaknesses and defficiencies of the bully they see you as a threat as you could show them up, the funny thing is that you are often a team player that does not mind helping them if only they asked!
In Canada, and the US for that matter, there are virtually no regulations to prevent work place bullying the Europeans have a better record with their Court of Human Rights, nonetheless workplace bullying is a huge problem 37% of American workers have been bullied at work and 13% are being Targeted now or in the past year, with 12% reporting that they have seen it but not experienced it. That means 49% of adult Americans have been affected (WBI-Zogby Survey 2007). That is literally hundreds of millions of people that are affected. The cost is phenomenal as 40% of the Targets either quit or are fired there is a huge cost to the corporation not to mention the costs to the personal lives finances and relationships of the Targets.
My work experiences in Canada strangely were both att the hands of female bosses (only 29% of female bully victims are men) one was before completing my prbationary period I was let go by a female boss at one of the largest telecommunications companies, as unsuitable. The truth was that she was a liar and proud of it and I refused to be complicit in her schemes. I am obviously way better qualified than her and she saw me as a threat to her own position. This can be a problem if like me you need some income due to the ever increasing cost of living, but have already established a good life style. Bully bosses will tend to victimise the better qualified particularly if you are working at a level below that for which you are qualified. I wish Stephen Harper and Jim Flagherty would take note.
The final incident was at a large office supply company where the boss was obviously feeling threatened and vulnerable. She perceived me as not being controllable and therefore wanted me out. The firm has a zero tolerance policy for touching, disguised as a respect for the individual policy. I believe it is designed to get rid of sexual aggressors in a hurry, however it proved to be the perfect vehicle to use for a bully. The Target (me) had no right to know what it was they were accused of so I still do not know exactly what I diid wrong. It appears that my boss had manufactured a case and then used bullying tactics to secure "evidence" none of which I ever got to see. I was given a final warning and asked to sign a copy of the procedure, which I never did. Then weeks later out of the blue I was confronted by the bully and her boss and told that I was dismissed, they would not say why, who had complained or when "the incident" was supposed to have occurred. Of course it was all a fiction or at best wildly exaggerated and distorted to get a conviction from Human Resources. I really can not say as they of course refuse to reveal anything.
All of this followed from a year of being given impossible deadlines, additional responsibility, a general lack of training and having to put up with my bosses complaints about a bullying boss, the lack of staff and budget for more, poor results of the group as a whole etc. being responsible for her inability to resolve the day to day issues of the job. The ironic part was she quit handing her notice to her boss the afternoon of the day she brought him in to help in firing me. Just imagine the devastating affect that has had on the remaining staff who now no longer know who they can trust and whether or not even their best efforts will be enough.
What stupidity that any company can believe that a thirty plus year veteran of Internal and External Audit would be anything other than beyond reproach, but instead of defending their employees they not only allow this to happen they are actively encouraging it with their zero tolerance policies and belief that all employees are out to get them in some way!
I know that many of you,, probably 50% or more, may have experienced this behaviour from a boss or something similar but have remained silent thinking you were alone or that you did something wrong to bring it on yourself. You did not and there is now help at hand. The Workplace Bullying Institute at Workplace Bullying founded by Dr's Gary and Ruth Namie, PhD's. They have written books and run seminars and courses to help eradicate this awful silent epidemic. If you or your loved ones have been affected I highly recommend you buy and read at least one of their books today!
The Feeling Of Being Targetted
How to Tell If You May be a Target
Some of The Main Indicators You Are a Target
- You feel sick to the core the night before your work week starts.
- You are attempting the obviously impossible task of taking on a new job with unfamiliar duties without adequate training, staff and resources.
- No matter how hard you work at doing things right it is never good enough for your boss.
- Your boss gives you a poor review and yet keeps piling on new tasks and duties, which you can never do to his/her satisfaction.
- The whole office goes out on a social event, but you are not invited, when you ask they say "Didn't you get the E mail I sent it to everyone?
- If you pluck up the courage to complain to Human Resources they say "The harassment is not illegal, sort it out between you!"
- You are starting to convince yourself that you must be incompetent, even though you are highly conscientious and try your best all the time.
- You are too embarrassed to discuss the issue with your spouse or partner.
- Your family are so fed up with your obsessing about work they ban it as a topic of discussion at home.
- You are feeling frozen and trapped like a deer or rabbit in the headlights of a car, it seems everyone agrees with the bully, and you have nowhere to turn.
- You discover that other staff have been expressly forbidden from helping you at work, talking to, or socializing with you.
- It is OK if one of your co-workers yells at you, but if you yell back you are disciplined for it and may be given a written warning.
Work Place Bullying Poll
In order to establish the true extent of this issue I have decided to include a poll of my readers to illustrate just how big this problem is.
Have you ever been the Target of workplace bullying, know someone who has or been affected by it?
Work Place Bullying Video's on Youtube. - Get a Better Understanding of What Work Place Bullying is.
How many of you thought it was just an accident? Well it is not it is totally planned and vindictive! Watch and learn!
Workplace Bullying Under the Radar, Intimidation, Humiliation, Ridicule, Isolation
Work Place Bullying (US)
The Four Workplace Bully Types
Work Place Bullying - The Lighter View
Get the Namie's Books on Amazon
Dr's Gary and Ruth Namie'are the founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute (U.S. and Canada, in 1998) those wishing to look further into their services can visit their site at Workplace Bullying. Those who feel that their books will be sufficient can purchase them through the links below.
The Bully Free Workplace
This may seem like a dream to you now, but it is really possible, however it takes work and vigilance by both staff and management. Try not to be so unthinking in your life and develop and work on having and keeping the right attitude.
The other person just may be right, they certainly have the right to form their own opinion, never assume that they are stupid, it just might be you!
The Bully At Work
You will all have seen the Bully at Work nearly everyone has at my last check 87% of my readers have and this is typical of the figures that the Namie's found when they started researching this issue and its actual financial cost to America. The question is what if anything do you do about it?
If we all wrote to our Congressmen and Senators or MPs and MLAs (USA and Canada) or their equivalents wherever you live do you think this just might be changeable. Stamping out school bullies may help, but not if as soon as our kids start work they are confronted by this state of affairs.
Bully Proof Yourself At Work
Ideally all the Bullies would be fired and then the workplace would be a happier more co-operative place. This would lead to more worker satisfaction less work disputes and labor unrest and significantly more production with less sickness absenteeism and depression.
It is no longer a question of why we do not work this way it is a fact that we can no longer afford the bullies!
The Workplace Argument
It only makes sense to have anti bullying campaigns at work and if you want to start this would be a good resource for you.
Anti Bullying Campaign Resources
If you are serious about stopping bullying these resources could be useful for you.
Other Anti Bullying Resources available from Amazon
Squid Angel Blessed
Comment On Comments!
Anyone who visits this Hub and who has relevant experiences or comments that they would like to share may do so here. The comments will be moderated to ensure that there is no abuse of the facility, but providing you are not abusive, rude, or bullying by nature expect them to appear within a day or two.