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Each act of bullying is the psychological equivalent of dropping a bomb into your brain. The onslaught during the recent bus monitor incident resulted in tears on the part of the recipient. The blitzkrieg of verbal assault that she experienced emotionally wounded this woman.

Individuals daily confronted with cruelty are left with shards of self-esteem, depleted self-confidence, and a cautiousness that precedes their communication. To escape carnage, people take cover; when they take cover, they’re not contributing. Bullies pack a dual punch on productivity in terms of mind and product. In their book “Taking the Bully by the Horns,” Jay Carter, Kathy Noll, and Flora Cusimano discuss empowering techniques for bullied children.

You’d think with so much at stake companies would take action to curb intra-firm terrorists. The boys in question are suspended from school, and will not be allowed to ride the school bus for a year. They will also need to do community service to help senior citizens.

In less than four percent of bullying incidents at work is there any type of retributive response. I’m mystified as to why companies that so carefully scrutinize the bottom line simply turn a blind eye to poor behavior. This is even more astonishing when bullies’ ultimate goal is to break your resolve, to demoralize you, to subdue your spirit, and to make a mockery of your professional standing. These are people who stake their claim by driving a stake into the career of someone else.

If they were taken to task (held accountable), and called on the carpet when they behave as corporate hoodlums this crisis might cease to occur. The problem is compounded when troublemakers have no solid behavioral role model with whom to identify. In a firm where the civil lead from behind, you will see people dropping bombs of contempt on their coworkers. I would love to see a study of stock valuation in firms that have (or enforce) civility policies vs. those that don’t. I would imagine (as with proactive attempts to manage diversity) that departure from laissez faire management will yield positive results (not only for those who are typically targets), but for all organizational employees.

Bystanders in a bullying event suffer from feelings of both guilt and powerlessness. A safe haven at work – a bully free zone in which above board relationships occur – I think would have a dramatic bottom line impact. According to the Gesundheit Institute: “One cannot separate the health of the individuals from the community.” A mission to first isolate and then rehabilitate workplace bullies is a first step in crafting a utopia at work, “…a paradise in which no one wants to leave,”  “…a heaven on earth.”

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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2 Responses
  1. Thank you for your helpful and informative article.

    Google sent me the article notification — it sends me alerts when my book title is used online: “Taking the Bully by the Horns”

    I’m working in the field of School Violence helping to end the problem of Bullying.

    My website is Taking the Bully by the Horns

    We offer Bullying Books and Bully Programs / Workshops which have been honored with awards for our successful work on this serious issue.

    Best Wishes,

    Kathy Noll
    “Taking the Bully by the Horns”
    National awards for “Saving Children’s Lives”

  2. Kathy Noll on August 3rd, 2012 at 6:00 pm
  3. I am the author of Taming The Abrasive Manager (Jossey-Bass, 2007), and also the founder and director of the Boss Whispering Institute. Our mission is to reduce suffering in the workplace caused by abrasive leaders, and we specialize in research and practice in the field of coaching abrasive leaders. You may find our websites and helpful.

    Best regards,

    Laura Crawshaw, Ph.D., BCC

  4. Laura Crawshaw, Ph.D., BCC on August 4th, 2012 at 3:18 pm