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Bullying in the Workplace: Stop it in its Tracks


Sometimes the worst thing someone can do is nothing at all. When bullying happens and it’s witnessed, no solution will be found if that witness won’t stand up for what’s right. So here, in the second of the three part series about workplace bullying, we’ll talk about what you can do if you are a bystander seeing bullying in action.

According to a 2008 Workplace Bullying Institute study, 400 people were asked multiple questions including what their reaction was to witnessing bullying in the workplace. Less than 1% replied that they stood up for the victim of the bullying. The reasoning given was personal fear. Fear is a powerful emotion and when not dealt with can make someone act –or in this case not act- in ways that do not benefit the greater good.

“The witness to the bullying should report it immediately and follow the company’s procedures,” Kyle Otten, LAC, Director of Beyond Boundaries and Experiential Therapy at Porter-Starke Services, Inc. said. “It is difficult for bullying to continue when bystanders become witnesses and speak up. This takes courage from the witness. Clear procedures and a committed culture to no bullying will help others to speak up.”

Most workplace harassment, including bullying is actually legal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Employers can have a healthy place of business by consistently by:

Employers should establish clear rules and enforce them. A “zero tolerance policy” should be created, shared, and executed.

Have a clear line of communication going. The Workplace Bullying Institute states that 40% of employees who are bullied won’t report it to their employees. Creating an atmosphere where employees feel like they can voice their grievances without fear of repercussions will help to alleviate issues.

Get training. Many employers don’t know how to stop a bully. The fear of retaliation or lawsuits often stops many, and normal conflict resolution doesn’t always work. There are many types of tools one can utilize.

If you are an employee, and you witness a co-worker being bullied. Don’t remain silent. As Heidi Reeder Ph.D. writes in an article published in Psychology Today, there are multiple things you can do to make great strides to stop a bully while still saving face like keeping track of incidences that you witness.

Keeping track of incidences as you witness them will help if you have to recall them later. Reach out to the victim and let them know that he or she is not alone, and support them in a public setting. There is power in numbers, and a bully is less likely to mess with someone who has another in his or her corner. And most importantly, speak up. Victims are afraid to speak up due to unknown consequences so taking your concerns to the higher-ups as a third party could help to tip the scales and stop a negative situation.

Be on the lookout for part three of this series: Take a Stand.

Sources:
Workplace Bullying Institute http://www.workplacebullying.org/ 
Kyle Otten, Clinician of Porter-Stark Services, Inc. Porter-Starke http://www.porterstarke.org/ 
Heidi Reeder Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/i-can-relate/201408/the-witness-6-steps-take-if-you-see-workplace-bullying
 

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