Bully Free Zone

Bullying

Workplace Bullying Affects Home Life

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011

A recent study indicates that stress and tension caused by workplace bullying and other abusive working relationships finds its way home and has a direct impact on an employee’s partner. It can have a direct impact on their marital relationship, their children and their whole family. These are the results from a Baylor University study published in the journal, Personnel Psychology in November. But there are various mitigating factors.  Employees who have more children at home and have a longer relationship will feel the impact of workplace bullying. Workplace Bullying Affect Families “These findings have important implications for organizations and their managers. The evidence highlights the need for organizations to send an unequivocal message to those in supervisory positions that these hostile and harmful behaviours will not be tolerated,” said Dawn Carlson, Ph.D., study author, professor of management and H. R. Gibson Chair of Organizational Development at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Waco. The research involved 280 full-time employees and partners. Most employees were male (57%) and had been on the job on average about five years.  The...

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Conflict and The Workplace

Conflict competence

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014

Business managers are not good at getting to the bottom of workplace conflicts. And that’s because they may not be fully aware of the reasons that conflicts happen in the first place.  As such, they end up focusing on the wrong issues. Conflict 101 Conflict expert Dr. Daniel Dana says that nearly 80% of conflicts at work are because of strained relationships between coworkers, not deficits in people’s skills or abilities. In other words, people aren’t fighting because they don’t see the value each other’s work. What they most often fight about is concerns around the relationship with their coworkers. This tells us that for the majority of people, good relationships are an important aspect of their work life; at least enough to cause the majority of conflicts in the workplace. The vicious cycle According to the Washington Business Journal, managers can spend upwards 40% of their time, or 1-2 days per week, managing conflicts. That’s a lot of time spent just on conflict. The reality is that managers may have to spend so much time managing conflicts because the source of...

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Harassment and Violence

Navigating Workplace Harassment

Posted by on Jul 27, 2012

You consider yourself to be an open-minded, modern woman. In fact, you would refer to yourself as “one of the guys,” and you are proud of the fact that your co-workers include you in their water cooler socializing even though you know they tone it down when you are around. You think of it as a sign of respect. But the new guy just doesn’t seem to get it. He’ll talk about his wild date from the night before in explicit detail and then apologize because he “forgot you were a woman.” “You’re one of the guys, you can hear this” he’ll say. And there are other comments about your appearance. “If you opened one more button on your blouse, you might actually be dateable.” He’s harmless; just ignore him your manager says. But now you have to avoid social situations at work and you’re acutely conscious of your manner of dress. And what makes it even worse; you need to be known as a team player to get ahead in this organization. Your co-worker is not harmless, and unchecked; this...

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Guest Bloggers

Building Workplace Civility

Posted by on Apr 10, 2012

by Michael P. Leiter, PhD It’s great to work with people you can trust. The sense of psychological safety from a supportive workgroup is a thing of great value. Widespread concern about workplace mistreatment in its myriad forms—bullying, mobbing, abuse, assault, and just plain rudeness—has brought into focus the importance of a vibrant workplace community. It’s not enough, however, to appreciate the problem; it calls for action. In 2007, a group of researchers and hospital leaders in Nova Scotia and Ontario embarked on a project to evaluate a process to build civility among members of workgroups. CREW (Civility, Respect, and Engagement at Work)* builds civility through a group process. The group comprises 8-15 people who regularly interact with one another at work. Over six months of regular meetings a facilitator guides members through conversations and exercises designed to put working relationships on the agenda. The first step in the process is to define the group meetings as a psychologically safe environment. Often, a few weeks are devoted initially to establishing ground rules for responding to others when speaking openly about tough...

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Recent Posts

I want him fired!

I want him fired!

Aug 15, 2014

 I want him fired! Clearly, when someone says this, they are angry and in a conflict. But what may not be clear is the real message hidden beneath the anger.   Interests versus positions Interests are the needs, wants, and expectations you have of the people you work with. They are why you want what you want. Positions on the other hand, are non-negotiable statements that meet the immediate want of the individual, or at least what they think they want. Conflicts are about interests that have not or are not being met. People fight constantly because their needs are not met. When they do fight, they tend to withhold from sharing their interests for various reasons, such as looking powerless or victimizes, making it difficult to find solutions Instead, people that are in conflict tend to speak through their conflict positions such as, “I want him fired”. Communicating through positions as opposed to interests during a conflict prevents others from understanding what it is that the other person really wants. Whereas a conflict position may be wanting someone fired, an interest may be wanting someone fired in order to feel safe. Safety in this case, can be an underlying interest, need, expectation that is unmet and a good reason to want someone fired. Interests are not the same as conflict positions, therefore the key to understanding people in conflict is to understand the underlying interests hidden beneath their conflict positions. One way to decipher between the two is through mediation. Mediators are trained to help people acknowledge self as well as other’s interests. Techniques and examples In a book called ‘Facilitating conflict transformation’, Dr. Jameson and her team describe certain techniques used by mediators that have helped some very angry people to get along. Techniques like paraphrasing and reflecting back are examples of these. A mediator can reflect back an interest by saying something like: “I can see that safety is important for you.” Alternatively, reflecting back a position may look like: “I can see you really want him fired!”. Whereas the first technique opens the discussion around interests, the other simply solidifies the position. A reflection and acknowledgement of interests can help people feel validated...

Business manage risk of violence?

Business manage risk of violence?

Apr 8, 2013

How can we ensure that violence risk is considered when resolving conflict?   The world of conflict resolution, mediation, workplace violence seems to be one that merges. Businesses are expected to manage the full gamut of behaviors which negatively impact the workplace. Occupational health and safety regulations provide expectations on identifying, assessing and managing to identify these risks, with little detail on how to do it. What exactly is workplace violence? Is it harassment? Is it bullying? Is it inappropriate language or actions? Must it be actual violence? We often leave it up to those involved to determine if, in fact, a risk of violence is present. As a professional who deals with high lethality violence risk, I would expect to see one or more of these behaviors as I manage individual cases.  Thankfully the majority of people acting out in this manner seldom escalate to physical violence.  Unfortunately, some do.So where do we start?  The first rule of threat assessment is to assess each situation individually. What may have transpired with a different person under similar circumstances is of little value. As professionals, we rely on our personal and professional experience and training to manage the cases we are working on. So how does a threat assessment professional assist? First, by aiding in  determining the nature and extent of the violence risk. The investigation or information-gathering phase is specific to information related to identifying the presence or absence of known violence risk factors.  The second step is to make recommendations to minimize and mitigate any threat present.  In my experience, I often find little evidence of actual violence risk, but significant amounts of intimidating and threatening statements and behaviours. Initially, I am looking to determine and assess those who make threats from those that pose a threat.There is also the ongoing balancing of managing the fear associated to potential violence and the actual threat that may exist.  Violence is not a subject that most wish to consider. As my sister-in-law says, “I don’t worry about the world; that is Kevin’s job”.  It is important to provide the objective support to those who may be in fear or at risk of actual violence. Fear...

Escort invite to pay for PhD – Felt Bullied

Escort invite to pay for PhD – Felt Bullied

Apr 12, 2012

I was never well treated in my pursuit of a PhD.  I was given little support; I was isolated and at times unfairly stigmatized by the academics in my department. I had one thesis supervisor who was very helpful at first.  He provided good criticism of my work but that changed after a rather peculiar conversation. Money troubles I used to meet him for coffee, where we would discuss the issues related to my thesis.  Overtime, we’d, of course, talk about personal things as well.  He knew that I had little money and I was having trouble finding work in my field while pursuing a PhD. One day he suggested I should become a prostitute. At first, I thought he was joking, one of those “academic” discussions you have in university.  But he was persistent and provided details.  He knew how much money you could make, how you advertise and how you get clients and what you did with them. He was persistent He kept this up, really pushing the idea that I should give this option a chance, because he said he knew lots of students who were doing it. I was firm that I was not interested but he kept the “pitch” going for more than a half an hour. Once he realized I would not consider this option, his demeanor completely changed with me.  He was not available to help with my thesis and at other times his suggestions were ludicrous. Was it real? So was his suggestion about becoming an escort to pay for my schooling real? I will never really know. But after I discussed this issue with someone who represented students in their complaints, I was shown newspaper articles that concerned the head of my department. A few years before, she had been involved in a court case over the ownership of a bordello.  She always claimed she was not involved but only became involved as an executor to her sister-in-law’s estate. Was there a connection?  I will never know. But I do know that systemic bullying turned my dreams of an intellectually satisfying life in academia or government research to dust.  There were no, oh so vital,...

Cough – Gag – Sniff

Cough – Gag – Sniff

Mar 28, 2012

It’s flu season. Nasty bugs float freely through the office. Workers who succumb are faced with a hard choice. Do you bring your sniffles and sneezes to the workplace, or call it quits and retire to the couch for a few days? Presenteeism, or coming to work when ill, and unable to operate at full capacity, is common. Many go to work sick, trying to save sick days for when their children or elderly parents may need them. Others fear reprimand, job loss or appearing less committed to the organization. Going to work has its costs Dreading a back log of work, emails and messages upon return is another reason worker’s don’t take time to recuperate. Some feel guilty thinking they are not pulling their weight and small business owners literally lose money when they stay home. Nevertheless, going to the workplace sick has its costs. We risk infecting our colleagues, customers, clients and suppliers. And, in certain occupations, like food services, being contagious at work can be disaster. When we work while ill, our productivity suffers. People are more tired than usual, less able to concentrate and slower in their work. Co-workers may complain about getting a cold from a sick peer and this can lead to resentment on the team. Dealing with a sick co-worker who insists on coming to work ill, can be a headache. Being upfront about asking co-workers to sneeze into their elbow or inquiring as to why they didn’t stay home, is the best approach. If the answer is, “I’ll be burden to you if I stay home”. Take the opportunity to discuss workload and expectations with your co-worker. Talk to a supervisor Sometimes your colleague may not be able to stay home because it means losing a day of pay or they are banking sick time to use when their family members get sick. If your co-worker is citing these reasons for coming in to work sick, talk to a supervisor. The organization needs to be alerted to issues that may be encouraging worker’s to come to work sick. If you are sick, consider staying home. If you are worried about letting people down, call in. Talk to your...