The project deals with the problem of bullying in the workplace. It was established that Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Healthy Workplace Bill regulate interpersonal relationship and prohibit bullying in the workplace. The types of bullies and their activities are the focal points of the research paper. Since workplace assault poses a tremendous threat to physical and psychological well-being of victims, mental, emotional and physical consequences of bullying were given a particular focus in the concluding part of the project.
Keywords: bullying, workplace, victim, physical, mental, abuse
It so happens that people are split into two categories, the predators and the prey. This classification applies to all people, bar none, since they have two opposite origins, animal and social, with the latter acquired while in society. The better part of people have social origin dominate their actions and deeds, which eventually determines how they treat people around while the remainder of individuals seek counsel of their animalistic origin leading them to push, assault other people both psychically and verbally at times for little-to-no reason. Hence, bullying is an asocial misdemeanor characterized by physical, verbal, or psychological assault on other individuals. There are different ways of harassing individuals, varying from traditional physical face-to-face confrontation to cyberbullying, or attack via electronic means of communication that allow placing abusive and insulting words in the internet, emailing or texting victims by phone. Whether at school, on the street, or in the workplace, such assaults take their ultimate toll on victims.
Workplace bullying is a type of bullying that occurs in the workplace. In the USA, a number of laws and bills regulate interpersonal relationship, workplace safety and other associated aspects. According to “Workplace Bullying” (2011), the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSHA requires that employers provide healthy and safe workplace conditions. Act implications are that employers bear responsibility for letting harm interfere with employees’ ability to work. Frankly speaking, the USA is failing miserably at addressing workplace bullying. Currently there exist no laws offering employees protection from bullying placing the US at the bottom of the list of countries fighting this professional misdemeanor. However, 17 states participating in an intense Healthy Workplace Campaign at grass-roots level have signed the Healthy Workplace Bill into law (“Workplace Bullying”, 2011).
Hout (2011) admitted that workplace bullies attacked their victims for two psychological reasons, such as the feeling of threat emanating from a victim or the vulnerability of a target. According to “A Collaborative Effort” (2006), bullies may take advantage of power and physical dominance, or want to enhance self-esteem. What is more, organizations cultivating a negative professional culture are a perfect hotbed of bullying. What may also drive bullies to assault other people is newcomers’ being different from offenders (“A Collaborative Effort”, 2006). Given these driving forces, a bully will undertake an attack. Hout (2011) claimed that the psychological portrait of such individuals was as follows: they spare no effort in designing a conflict, undermining the status and standing of victims, as well as reasoning colleagues into believing a person assaulted an incompetent, insane, or immoral individual. They will spend time building their personal image of tireless workers sacrificing their all in the best interests of a company. Eventually, all such bullies do is sabotage the entire company in lieu of securing its success. Organization hierarchal position and personality leave their mark on bullies’ multi-faceted personalities. It is on whom they deal with, that bullies’ personality largely depends, making them highly adaptable individuals.
Hout (2011) adopted the classification provided by Doctors Ruth and Gary Namie. The so-called “screaming MiMi” may be seen shouting at targets until they go purple in the face, their neck veins popping in anger. They tend to give full vent to their venom by scolding angrily, humiliating. There is no reasonable debate in them. Lacking for decent ways and logic, these odious and shouting individuals make up for the shortcoming of arguments by airing claptrap spit-flying tirades right in the face and proving other people wrong no matter what. The “two-headed snake” are difficult to identify, being able to destroy reputations before they get spotted. The biggest difficulty is that they pose as friends and worm into confidence. They are stabbing-in-the-back kinds of co-workers that ensure victims never see it coming. They major in stealing credit for work well done, calumniating behind their targets’ back and pretending to be best friends and biggest admirers (Hout, 2011).
“The constant critic” will ruin their victims’ high professional self-perception, if such. These faultfinders are used to carping at other employees. When once a person receives a positive feedback, such bully is always there for him or her for the purpose of criticizing rather than supporting. Amazing is how far such bullies can go to damage reputation. They will frame up documents, sabotage projects and create evidence needed at whatever cost. “The gatekeeper” is a small tripper who makes sure victims fall over artificially created obstacles. Such people are ready to deny their victims’ access to resources they need to get the job done, grinning smugly and savoring every bit of their targets’ failure publicly. Overall, such bullies may go as far as to expanding the volume of responsibilities, workload, axe budget, personnel, deny materials, time, change deadlines, and do other devious things. “The attention seeker” is an emotionally immature individual who wants it utmost to be epicenter of everyone’s attention. Their arsenal includes flattery and sweet-tongued servility. While extra nice and helpful by treating newcomers, they are quick to grow vicious, should their victims fail to become their loyal fans (Hout, 2011).
According to Hout (2011), “the wannabe” is the most mediocre and spiteful of bullies. They crave for recognition them being competent and valued employees; however, they do not have what it usually takes to be such. Always controlling, highly insecure and manipulative, these bullies demand respect on the part of genuine team professional, though not possessing qualifications required for them to be called professionals. They seek to capture managerial or supervisory positions to gain some power. The competence of such sensitive bullies addressed, they are sure to react in an aggressive way. “The guru” puts competence on display, and other employees may think them competent. Such emotionally immature individuals tend to live secluded in their barren world, thinking of themselves as intellectually superior, without taking it into consideration the outcomes of their decisions for people. Usually cold, conservative and analytical, they never recognize the possibility of being wrong (Hout, 2011).
“The sociopaths” are the most hazardous of all bullies since such socialized psychopaths have no empathy whatsoever for any employee who do not have to stand in their way to receive such treatment. Being impervious to other people’s feelings, they are able to manipulate colleagues, their feelings and emotions to receive what they wish. Though charming, intelligent, and charismatic, such bullies will leave other employees chanceless without any remorse. Gravitating towards top executive positions, they regard people as being the objects instrumental in bringing sociopaths closer to their ultimate aim. Once found useless, they will be discarded right away by these ultimate opportunists. “The serial workplace bully” is a person who is always in need of a new victim. Even though the target of their assault may be terminated, forced to leave, or made to commit suicide, this type of bully will find a new victim (Hout, 2011). Padykula (n.d.) stated that “the boss bully” flourished in power. Jane Miller, book author and career development and workplace expert, claimed that it was to subordinates disciplined that bosses employed a bullying technique. Padykula (n.d.) also considered differentiating between the gossip, inconsistent, in-your-face, and behind-your-back bullies that reiterate the above-mentioned patterns.
Oppermann (2008) opined that bullying could come in the shape of usually ungrounded spiteful gossip or insinuations, intimidation, social excommunication or isolation, a blow to reputation, the impediment to work, physical abuse, or the threat thereof, the change of work guidelines, the removal of the areas of responsibility for no reason, and the establishment of impossible deadlines. Other forms of bullying include the blocking of information, making offensive jokes in person or via email, the encroachment on privacy, the assignment of inadequate duties, shouting, persistent criticizing, undeserved punishment, deduction from employees’ opinion, the imposing of the feeling of uselessness. Bullies may also come to block applications for promotion, leave, or training or damage their victims’ personal possessions (Oppermann, 2008).
Redman (n.d.) claimed that bullying in the workplace had serious mental effects, as victims may develop posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, panic attacks, poor concentration, stress breakdown, compromised memory, and insecurity. The victims of bullying may grow obsessive, irritable, hypersensitive, or extremely vigilant. Indecision, mood swings, the loss of humor, nail biting, teeth grinding, and heave reliance on such substances as sleeping aids, nicotine, and alcohol are among the most widespread symptoms. Physical effects may emerge in the form of chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, stress, and a diminished resistance to fever, flue, colds, and coughs. It is often that the bullied have migraine headaches, pains in the chest or back, high blood pressure, physical numbness, hormone disturbance, thyroid issues, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and skin irritation. The worst-case scenario suggests victims can develop asthma, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, and allergies, to name but a few (Redman, n.d.). According to “Mental health harm” (n.d.), debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, shame, guilt, clinical depression, and post-traumatic stress are the case among the majority of victims.
Workplace bullying is a verbal or physical assault conducted by a perpetrator on colleagues in the workplace. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Healthy Workplace Bill currently regulate workplace safety to ensure professional misdemeanor is not the case in the workplace. The quest for self-esteem, power, the perception of threat, and the vulnerability of other people cause bullies to attack. There are various types of bullies, such as the screaming MiMi, the two-headed snake, the constant critic, the gatekeeper, the attention seeker, the wannabe, the guru, and the sociopath. Bullies seek to damage other people’s reputation, to steal credit for work done well by other people, to take opportunistic advantage of colleagues, or win a large base of supporters and yes-men. They apply various tactical approaches from imposing inadequate deadlines and assigning unbearable duties to excommunicating and harming other people’s property. Whatever the type, bullying takes its toll on human health by producing mental, physical, and emotional injuries.
A collaborative effort of the interagency roundtable on workplace bullying. (2006, March 15). Stop Bullying in SA. Retrieved from: http://www.stopbullyingsa.com.au/factors.asp
Hout, A. (2011). Workplace bully types. Overcome.bullying.org. Retrieved from: http://www.overcomebullying.org/workplace-bully.html
Mental health harm. (n.d.). Workplace Bullying Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/impact/mental-health-harm/
Oppermann, S. (2008, December 3). Workplace bullying: psychological violence? Workplace Bullying Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.workplacebullying.org/2009/05/04/workplace-bullying-psychological-violence/
Padykula, J. (n.d.). Five types of workplace bullies and how to deal with them. Canadian Living. Retrieved from: http://www.canadianliving.com/life/work/5_types_of_workplace_bullies_and_how_to_deal_with_them.php
Redman, B. (n.d.). The effects on mind & body of bullying in the workplace. Chron. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effects-mind-body-bullying-workplace-32257.html
Workplace bullying: U.S. employers’ progress on this epidemic problem. (2011, January). Employment Practices Solution. Retrieved from: http://www.epspros.com/NewsResources/Newsletters?find=12205