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Bullying in the Workplace

June 8, 2010

Bullying is an issue that certainly comes up in schools – usually we think of it in terms of students bullying one another.  However, workplace bullying is beginning to be studied more and more often.

I’m reading a book right now called The No Assholes Rule: building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by  Stanford Professor, Robert I. Sutton PhD.

There is a lot of really good information – well researched information – related to workplace bullying in this book.  (Believe me, I will be returning to quite a bit of this later and reporting to you what I find.)

Here is a quick ‘test’ you can use to determine if you work with and ‘asshole’ as defined by Sutton:

1.  After talking to the alleged asshole, does the ‘target’ feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person?  In particular, does the target feel worse about him or herself?

2. dos the alleged asshole aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful rather than at those people who are more powerful?

Sutton  states that demeaning acts on employees have “five times the punch” that do positive interactions between employees or employees/employers.  He also points out that workplace bullies damage not only the victims of their behavior, they also “suffer ripple effects” to other co-workers, clients, and the overall effectiveness of the workplace.  Not only that, but the bullies themselves also suffer from their own actions, usually in the form of career setbacks, or humiliation.

You may wonder why I have brought this up.   In my research, I found documentation, and documented myself, people who left the profession specifically because they felt targeted, abused or otherwise bullied by either co-workers, parents, or worse yet, their administrator.

If you are experiencing this sort of bullying now, Sutton’s book may be a good read for you.  I will be posting more information from Sutton and other researchers/authors in this area.

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