Bullying used to be so easy to spot: we’d think of schoolyard bullies, tough characters whose commanding bluster was easy to point out.
But it turns out that it’s not just something kids suffer. Adults do, too, often at work. And it’s every bit as damaging and painful as the schoolyard variety. Adult bullying can be grown-up subtle, too, so much so that its victim may be left wondering if it’s even happening or if it’s just paranoia.
Threatening Work Envirnoment
In the workplace, bullying is usually about the acquisition of personal power of one person over another, and it can be truly mind-bending. A coworker looking for a leg up may engage in gaslighting:
“The classic example of gaslighting is to switch something around on someone that you know they’re sure to notice, but then deny knowing anything about it, and to explain that they 'must be imagining things' when they challenge these changes.”
As I watched the video below, I suddenly realized that’s what had been going on in a troubling work relationship I had 10 years ago!
Who's the Bully?
The bully may also be a boss, a bad — or maybe just ignorant — one who doesn’t realize that rather than motivating employees, the effect of the bullying is to keep them on the defensive and make them less productive. It can result in the loss of good people who won’t tolerate being victims of bullying. There’s an expression: “Strong people will automatically stop trying if they feel unwanted. They won’t fix it or beg. They’ll just walk away.” How's that for your employee retention rate?
It’s obvious that bullying is a serious and insidious threat to the health of any company or organization. This video from QualiaSoup offers an eye-opening overview of workplace bullying and what a smart company can do to stop it. Watch.