29 November 2009

Workplace bullies must be challenged - What do you think of this Article??

In the workplace — by Paula MacLean

Workplace bullies and schoolyard bullies share a common characteristic — they both have low self-esteem. Bullying is abuse. If the bully is a supervisor or manager, then bullying also involves the abuse of power. People who are comfortable with their personal and professional power have nothing to prove and therefore treat others with respect. People who are personally or professionally insecure often treat others badly. Although masquerading as strength or power, bullying comes from a position of weakness.

Progressive employers have policies outlawing all forms of abuse. These policies include stern consequences for anyone who breaks the rules. Despite preventative policies, abuse-free workplaces are rare. Recent research in Alberta indicated that 45 percent of employees surveyed could give at least one example of being treated with a lack of respect by someone in authority within their current workplace.

Many people report being stunned into silence when bullying occurs. This reaction is common for victims and witnesses to bullying. Challenging a bully is a very difficult thing to do. If the bully is a manager, challenging the bully may seem unthinkable. However, in the fine print of everyone’s job description, right below, “Other related duties as assigned” should be one final duty: “To have courage.”

If you see someone being bullied, having courage means saying: “I’m uncomfortable with how you are treating _____. I think you should stop and give some thought to how you are behaving.” Contrary to how you might feel, you are not powerless. Being silent condones the bully’s behaviour and increases the likelihood that she or he will bully again. Speaking up is an act of power and courage. We all have this potential to be courageous, however only some use our power to protect others.

If you are the victim of bullying, report it to a manager with whom you feel safe. Be clear about the facts, identify others who witnessed the incident and be prepared to put your concerns in writing. Ask that the situation be reviewed and action taken. Your action may help protect both you and others from experiencing abuse in the future. Remember that we teach people how to treat us. Standing up for yourself and others is one way of putting an end to bullying and other types of abuse at work.
Paula J. MacLean is a best-selling author of five books on improving human resource practices in the workplace.

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