Workplace Bullying Accusations: How to Avoid Being Labeled “Bully”!

Workplace Bullying Accusations: How to Avoid Being Labeled “Bully”!

Workplace bullying behaviors have been documented and re-documented and then reviewed for well over 20 years. With each year we see more and more behaviors being included, and we see that “workplace bullying” is THE key search term used to describe a difficult workplace situation. Of late, however, we are starting to see the consequences of broad definitions and sweeping generalizations. Specifically, workers are accusing bosses and colleagues of bullying without understanding the real meaning of the term and the consequences of such accusations.

As described in this article, right now the backlash is that managers are afraid to discipline workers for fear of being called “bully”. When managers give up their power to supervise and discipline, however, then the “real bullying” can happen with abandon.

Preventative Steps that Work

So what is an employer to do? Here’s what is needed now:

  • Clear definitions of workplace bullying, aggressive, and abrasive behaviors, with examples of such inappropriate behaviors and clearly stated consequences.
  • Outlines of managements duties and responsibilities
  • Leadership, communication, and management training that empowers everyone to be able to talk to one another without using strategies that start to feel like bullying.

This last point about leadership and communication is where you the employer can make demonstrable differences by taking simple steps. For example:

  • Stop using judgmental terms like “should”
  • Don’t use foul language
  • Don’t make accusations without substantiation
  • Stop gossiping, complaining, or undermining your employees
  • Don’t isolate, ignore or exclude your employees
  • Don’t ignore evaluations
  • Use concrete and substantiated evidence when rewarding and disciplining your employees

The buck stops with you, and you have an opportunity to stop actual bullying behavior before it even starts. It is much better to exercise preventative steps now to prevent the real bullying than it is to “look the other way” for fear of being perceived as a bully.

I’m Kathleen Bartle, a strategic consultant on workplace conflict to executives worldwide for more than 20 years.  My work brings individualized solutions to your teams’ lost productivity, loss of key personnel, low morale, and the high costs resulting from bullying, abrasive behaviors and interpersonal workplace conflicts.  You can contact me here.

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