I read an article recently about workplace bullying and the options targets of bullying have in dealing with this unwanted and troubling behavior. The advice offered in the article was simple; avoid confronting the bully because that will only make matters worse and that the best course of action a target of workplace bullying could take was to quit his job.
I find this troubling. It sounds like we should throw in the towel and admit defeat to employees who exhibit bullying behaviors instead of addressing the problem.
I’m not advocating that someone stay in an environment that is toxic, far from it. Workplace bullying and psychological harassment can be devastating. These behaviors can affect a person’s productivity at work, his health, and his home life. They can also affect the culture of an organization.
Often, employees are unsure what to do when they find themselves the target of bullying. Targets are typically successful and well-liked employees, so they aren’t accustomed to the type of behavior being directed at them.
One form of protection an individual has is to document incidents of bullying and harassment. This is the only record the person will have that these behaviors are present and how often they occur. Management will want to see that a pattern of behavior has been recorded before they intercede, so unfortunately the onus generally falls on the person being targeted.
It is our responsibility to make sure we create environments that promote respectful and safe workplaces. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can control our own actions. What can we do? To begin with, we can ask that workplace bullying is addressed in our company’s policies and procedures. Workplace bullying can only thrive in an environment that tolerates it. We need to make sure that we receive training on how to promote respectful interactions with customers and colleagues.
We all have an obligation to maintain our professionalism every second of every day and take respectful interactions seriously. A workplace culture that embodies respect, service, and safety won’t tolerate disruptive behaviors.
Quitting a job is one solution to get away from workplace bullying, but it shouldn’t have to come down to that. We should not tolerate toxic work environments in the first place. Let’s hear from you. What have you done to help promote a respectful culture at your organization? Have you worked in an environment with office bullies and uncivil behavior? How did you handle it? Share your thoughts. Together, we can eliminate bullying behavior from our workplaces.