October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so I want to highlight some of the great efforts out there to prevent bullying. I also want to draw your attention to our blog “What to Say to a Bully,” where experts share thoughts, strategies, and interviews about making our schools safer. We learn so much from experts in the field, and from those who make this cause their daily mission. It’s truly inspiring.
So why do I still keep hearing the phrase “nurses eat their young”? Why do I still see failed attempt after failed attempt in our legislatures to get workplace civility bills passed? Why do I still have friends who leave their jobs because there’s a toxic culture where they’re being bullied?
I think it’s because we like to paint the picture of bullying just being something that happens on our playgrounds and in our schools. How embarrassing if we have to admit that we, as adults, not only bully, but stand on the receiving end of bullying behaviors, every day in our workplaces.
In so many instances it’s accepted as part of the organizational culture. “Well, that’s just Ms. Jones,” or “Ha—you should have seen how I was treated when I was new. You’ll get used to it.”
We will undo the hard work we put into educating our children on this very important matter if we fail to address this as an adult issue too.
How many times have we engaged in a behavior that we would have told our child never to do?
Let’s take “Don’t leave people out” as an example. We teach our children not to do that, yet daily within workplaces, people isolate coworkers intentionally, or worse—purposefully fail to include coworkers on an important communication that creates an issue for that employee.
Let’s take name-calling—another example. How often do our children overhear us referring to a colleague as something less than flattering, right after we chastise them for name-calling?
I’m not pretending to be perfect here. But I’m also not talking about an isolated incident. These behaviors are insidious, and even when we can identify them in our children, and in their interactions with their peers, we are not so quick to see them in ourselves or within our own peer group.
It may take forever before we are bold enough politically to actually make a statement about these behaviors in the workplace that’s meaningful enough to drive organizational change.
But that doesn’t mean your organization can’t make the bold decision to do something about it.
What a different conversation it would be with our children when we sit down next to them and say, “Here’s my advice to you about bullying,” and “This is what we do about it in my workplace.”
What a different conversation it is when we are held so accountable in our work life, that it trickles down to our home life and we lead strongly by example, not just by words.
CPI can help your organization take the bold step to reclaim your culture as “bully free.” Call it what you want: bullying, horizontal or lateral violence, it’s still workplace violence. Why would we skip that part of the continuum? So many organizations are great at dealing with the threats posed by others, but we continue to undo our steps forward with a refusal to address what is right in front of us as team members.