By Steve Oppermann Tuesday, July 17, 2012
YouTube Video Shines Spotlight on Workplace Bullying Issue
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, it is highly likely that you’ve heard about the incident in which four seventh-grade boys in upstate New York repeatedly and viciously insulted Karen Klein, a 68-year-old school bus monitor. One of the boys filmed the egregious conduct with a cell phone and then uploaded the video to Youtube, where it went viral; more than 7.9 people had viewed it as of June 29.
The video produced so much outrage and sympathy among viewers that Max Sidorov, a Toronto man, came up with the idea of establishing an online “vacation fund” for Ms. Klein with a nice vacation. The original goal of the fund was $5,000, but contributions have continued to pour in and reached the astonishing total of $650,000 by July 1.
Another high-profile workplace bullying situation came to my attention on July 5 via an MSNBC.com article titled “Report: Missile Defense Agency chief Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly bullied staff.” The article cited a finding by the Department of Defense’s inspector general that General O’Reilly, routinely bullied his senior staff. Multiple witnesses told the IG that that O’Reilly’s tenure was marked by yelling and screaming and that his reactions “impeded the flow of information.” The report said that “We received consistent testimony that as a result of his management style, even senior officials stopped communicating” with General O’Reilly.
According to the MSNBC.com article, the Inspector General “recommended the Secretary of the Army consider ‘appropriate corrective action’” with regard to O’Reilly.
I’ve written five articles for FedSmith.com on bullying over the years, none more recently than June 2010. But each time FedSmith.com references one or more of my bullying articles, I still hear directly from a number of people about their experiences in being bullied on-the-job. Based on that fact, the two high-profile workplace bullying incidents noted above, and some recent bullying situations in which I have been indirectly involved, I decided it was time to take another look at the issue.
I borrowed the title of my December 8, 2008, article, “Workplace Bullying: Psychological Violence?” from Dr. Gary Namie, psychologist and co-founder with his wife, Dr. Ruth Namie, of the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), who coined the term “psychological violence” to describe workplace bullying.
I quoted in that initial “Workplace Bullying…” article some guidance adapted from Violence in the Workplace Prevention Guide, published by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS). I have yet to find any guidance I thought was better or more concisely laid out, so I am repeating it here.
“What is Workplace Bullying?
Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could 'mentally' hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can involve negative physical contact as well. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behavior that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.
What are Examples of Bullying?
While bullying is a form of aggression, the actions can be both obvious and subtle. It is important to note that the following is not a checklist, nor does it mention all forms of bullying. This list is included as a way of showing some of the ways bullying may happen in a workplace. Also remember that bullying is usually considered to be a pattern of behavior where one or more incidents will help show that bullying is taking place.
- Spreading malicious rumors, gossip, or innuendo that is not true
- Excluding or isolating someone socially
- Intimidating a person
- Undermining or deliberately impeding a person's work
- Physically abusing or threatening abuse
- Removing areas of responsibilities without cause
- Constantly changing work guidelines
- Establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail
- Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information
- Making jokes that are 'obviously offensive' by spoken word or e-mail
- Intruding on a person's privacy by pestering, spying or stalking
- Assigning unreasonable duties or workload which are unfavorable to one person (in a way that creates unnecessary pressure)
- Under work – creating a feeling of uselessness
- Yelling or using profanity
- Criticizing a person persistently or constantly
- Belittling a person's opinions
- Unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment
- Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion
- Tampering with a person's personal belongings or work equipment
It is sometimes hard to know if bullying is happening at the workplace. Many studies acknowledge that there is a "fine line" between strong management and bullying. Comments that are objective and are intended to provide constructive feedback are not usually considered bullying, but rather are intended to assist the employee with their work.
If you are not sure an action or statement could be considered bullying, you can use the ‘reasonable person’ test. Would most people consider the action unacceptable?
How Can Bullying Affect an Individual?
People who are the targets of bullying may experience a range of effects. These reactions include:
- Feelings of frustration and/or helplessness
- Increased sense of vulnerability
- Loss of confidence
- Physical symptoms such as:
- Inability to sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Psychosomatic symptoms such as:
- Stomach pains
- Panic or anxiety, especially about going to work
- Family tension and stress
- Inability to concentrate
- Low morale and productivity
How Can Bullying Affect the Workplace?
Bullying affects the overall "health" of an organization. An "unhealthy" workplace can have many effects. In general these include:
- Increased absenteeism
- Increased turnover
- Increased stress
- Increased costs for employee assistance programs (EAPs), recruitment, etc.
- Increased risk for accidents / incidents
- Decreased productivity and motivation
- Decreased morale
- Reduced corporate image and customer confidence
- Poorer customer service”
Status of Anti-Bullying Legislation: The Workplace Bullying Institute maintains that “The U.S. is the last of the western democracies to not have a law forbidding bullying-like conduct in the workplace. Scandinavian nations have explicit anti-bullying laws (since 1994). Many of the EU nations have substantially more legal employee protections, which compel employers to prevent or correct bullying.”
The WBI further notes that while there is no Federal anti-bullying law, nor has one been passed in any State, 21 States have introduced the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) since 2003. There were 18 current bills as of February 28. In Massachusetts, the HWB bill has moved to a third reading in the House.
HWB Summary: According to a group called the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Advocates, the Healthy Workplace Bill creates a legal claim for bullying targets who can establish that they were subjected to malicious, health-harming behavior. It also provides defenses for employers who act preventively and responsively with regard to bullying and includes provisions to discourage frivolous claims.
How prevalent is workplace bullying?
Susan M. Heathfield, Human Resources Guide for About.com, has noted in her on-line column that 54 million Americans have experienced workplace bullying. And the website Know Bull! states that “One of the major findings of the 2007 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey — the largest scientific survey of bullying in the US — was that "Bullying is 4 (four) times more prevalent than illegal, discriminatory harassment, which includes such things as discrimination due to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or age.”
Who gets bullied?
In terms of gender, the Workplace Bullying Institute has noted that women appear to be at greater risk of becoming a bullying target than men, as 57% of those who reported being targeted for abuse were women. Men are more likely to participate in aggressive bullying behavior (60%), however, when the bully is a woman her target is more likely to be a woman as well (71%).
Who are the bullies?
The 2007 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey found that 72% of bullies were bosses and that 55% of those bullied were rank-and-file workers.
What are the costs associated with workplace bullying?
Psychologist Michael H. Harrison quoted a recent survey of 9,000 Federal employees which indicated that 42 percent of female and 15 percent of male employees reported being harassed within a two-year period, resulting in a cost of more than $180 million in lost time and productivity.
The psychological cost of workplace bullying is hard to measure. However, based on the comments made on the FedSmith.com website in response to my workplace bullying articles; the hundreds of e-mails which have been sent directly to me, from virtually every Federal agency and component; and recent situations in which I have spoken on multiple occasions to the alleged victims; I have concluded that being bullied can break an employee’s will and self-confidence, and can easily spill over into his/her personal life. Bullying can also cause employees who say they have loved working in a particular organization to now want to avoid going to the office – where the perpetrator awaits - as much as possible, often taking more leave, perhaps a great deal more, and sometimes leaving the agency after giving up hope that the situation will be resolved.
And there are safety concerns. The overwhelming majority of employees who feel they are being bullied are unlikely to strike out at their perceived tormentors – in fact, they are more likely to absorb the bullying in silence and to hurt themselves if they hurt anyone – but it is extremely difficult to predict with certainty the reaction of someone who feels he/she is backed up against the wall and has run out of options.
Bullies can be found at any level of an organization. William F. Badzmierowski and Jerilyn C. Dufresne, in an article titled “Dealing with Office Bullies: Developing Respect, Service, and Safety on the Job,” aver that “Bullying can only occur within a work environment that tolerates incivility.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement.
Managers and supervisors need to both practice and require respect in the workplace at all times, and to make clear to employees on a regular basis that they will not tolerate bullying or any other kind of incivility. They should make clear that employees who feel they are being bullied or have witnessed what they believe to be bullying behavior need to report it to management immediately. Other potential remedies available to bullied employees are filing an EEO complaint – if they feel the bullying is based on illegal discrimination under Title VII – or a grievance (under the agency procedure or a negotiated one), or contacting Human Resources and/or the servicing Equal Employment Opportunity office.
I would also encourage managers and supervisors to examine their own behavior against the kinds of bullying behavior described in Violence in the Workplace Prevention Guide and quoted earlier in this article, and to consider augmenting the self-assessment by soliciting feedback from trusted colleagues. The Guide states that “If you are not sure an action or statement could be considered bullying, you can use the ‘reasonable person’ test. Would most people consider the action unacceptable?” It also recognizes that there is a “fine line” between strong management and bullying, noting that comments that are objective and intended to provide constructive feedback are not usually considered bullying.
I can't imagine anyone doing their best work when they are feeling bullied, humiliated and/or afraid of losing their job. So, it is clear to me that agency management has a vested interest – from both a moral and a business standpoint - in protecting its employees from workplace bullying.
Steve Oppermann and John Jones, former Director of Civil Rights for the Bureau of Reclamation, will conduct workshops in the D.C., area in August. The sessions will cover workplace bullying/workplace violence (1 day), conduct & discipline (1 day), and Human Resources Management for EEO Practitioners (5 days). Please see Calendar of Training on the Rushford & Associates website.
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Psychological & Emotional Price List
The Psychological & Emotional Price is the measure of how long an "Act or Action" affects you mentally or emotionally.
Every day, we are affected by the things that we hear, and things that we see, and it's these things that we see and hear that affect us mentally and emotionally..., in some cases, for our entire lives.
The Negative Effects of what we see or hear is what we are discussing in this opinion, which associates the length of time or how long something affects us mentally or emotionally, in a negative manner.
Theology recognizes the negative effect of our mind and heart as a burden, which is only released once we forgive the person who has placed this negative feeling in our mind or heart, and these burdens can also be released when the person who caused pain in the heart and mind of a person, by asking for forgiveness for his or her actions.
Psychological & Emotional Prices/Costs are experienced by all, from the age of, as low as 2 years old, to the day we pass away, and the costs of the negative affects last from one day..., to many days, some costs are months, and some costs are years..., pending on the act or action, and pending on the time of life that the act took place.
Psychological Price is the length of time that one is negatively affected mentally by an act or action that one sees or hears. When you think about something that you heard or seen, and it brings negative mental thoughts, you are affected negatively.
Emotional Prices is the length of time that one is negatively affected emotionally by an act or action that one sees or hears. When you remember things that you heard or seen and physically, begin to cry, begin to shake, begin to become sad, mad or feel some type of negative emotion within, you are affected negatively.
The Psychological & Emotional Price List:
The Death of A Loved One
Psychological Price/Cost - The Death of a loved one will affect one mentally differently, pending the relationship of the loved one that passed and how the loved one past.
- Death of a Mother, Father, Brother or Sister - 1 Year to 5 years for natural or accidental death, 3 Years to 15 Years for a murder death.
Death of a Son or Daughter - 2 Years to 7 years for natural or accidental death, 5 years to a life time for a murder death.
Emotional Price/Cost - The Death of a loved one will affect one emotionally differently, pending on the relationship of the loved one that passed and how the loved one past.
- Death of a Mother, Father, Brother or Sister - 6 months to 3 years for natural or accidental death, 1 year to 5 years for a murder death.
Death of a Son or Daughter - 1 Years to 3 years for natural or accidental death, 2 years to a life time for a murder death
A Bad Marriage with weekly arguments & some physical fights
Psychological Price/Cost - Arguments have huge psychological costs to the two involved, but, the children who are subjected to harsh arguments and physical altercations between parents does huge damage and incur huge costs.
- Arguments Psychological Price/Cost of the Adults- name calling 3 weeks to 3 months, lying 1 month to 3 years, aggressively yelling with anger 2 days to 3 weeks, throwing things or hitting walls with anger 3 days to 1 year, physical slapping or punching 3 months to 5 years
Children witnessing Parents Arguments Psychological Price - name calling 6 months to a lifetime, lying 3 days to lifetime, aggressively yelling with anger 7 days to lifetime, throwing things or hitting walls with anger 3 months to lifetime,
physical slapping or punching 1 year to lifetime.
- Arguments Emotional Price/Cost of the Adults - name calling 2days to 1 month, lying 1 day to 3 months, aggressively yelling with anger 7 days to 2 months, throwing things or hitting walls with anger 2 months to 2 years, physical slapping or punching 10 months to 2 years
Children witnessing Parents Arguments Emotional Price - name calling 1 month to a lifetime, lying 3 days to lifetime, aggressively yelling with anger 7 days to lifetime, throwing things or hitting walls with anger 12 months to lifetime,
physical slapping or punching 10 years to lifetime
Remaining in a Bad Relationship
Psychological Price/Cost of refusing to leave a bad relationship ensures that your days are mentally confused, unsure, and occupied with negative thoughts. Deciding to leave a bad relationship starts the process of healing, but, no mental healing will take place while the bad relationship continues.
- Psychological Price/Cost of Bad Relationship - being cheated on by your mate - 2 months or duration of the relationship as well as damaging the ability to trust in the far future, being lied to -1 day to duration of relationship, selfish partner - daily anguish and duration of relationship, inconsiderate partner - daily anguish and duration of relationship.
- Emotional Price/Cost of Bad Relationship - being cheated on by your partner - 3 months to duration of relationship and up to years after relationship ends affecting future possible relationships, being lied to - 2 days through duration of and harming emotional confidence of trust in far future, selfish partner - hourly, daily, and duration of relationship
- The Pain of a bad relationship destroys ones mental and emotional health, yet, the unwillingness to walk away ensures that the healing never takes place. The Pain of Walking away from a bad relationship is huge, but, it will end, and on the other side is a fresh heart, a fresh mind and a new beginning.
Bad Parenting or Abusive Parenting
The Psychological & Emotional Price that children pay for a parent that doesn't understand what loving, affection and caring means,
pays their entire lives. The Lack of attention or involvement in the child's life hurts educationally, social adjustments ability, and habit development. Bad grades are results of Bad Parenting, Mal Behavior results from Bad Parenting, and no plan for post graduation is a result of Bad Parenting:
- Psychological Cost/Price of Bad or Abusive Parenting - calling a child a name - 2 days & throughout entire life, abusive & aggressive behavior in public or at home towards a child - 3 days & throughout entire life, ignoring or insufficient individual attention given to a child - 1 day & throughout entire life, minimum or no affection or love expressed directly to a child - 1 day and throughout entire life, lack of participation in a child's education until graduation - 1 day & throughout entire life.
Emotional Price/Cost of Bad or Abusive Parenting
- Emotional Price/Cost of Bad or Abusive Parenting - calling a child a name - 2 weeks and throughout entire life, abusive & aggressive behavior in public or at home towards a child - 7 days & throughout entire life, ignoring or insufficient individual attention given to a child - entire life, minimum or no affection or love expressed directly to a child - entire life, lack of participation in a child's education until graduation entire life.
- A Child's mental & emotional development begins the day the child comes home, and the display of love, affection, attention, and care, is mandatory, for positive and proper mental and emotional development. Education requires participation through graduation, in order to ensure that a child receives all the foundational understanding of how to learn, and how to study correctly, thus, telling a child to do it, doesn't suffice..., showing the child how to do it, is the requirement through graduation.
Daily Life Psychological & Emotional Cost/Price List
On Job Harassment: Psychological & Emotional Affects Price/Cost
- Yelled at in front of other employees
1 week to 3 months
Belittled by fellow employee or boss
- 1 week to 3 months
- Called names or negative innuendos used towards you
- 3 weeks to entire employment with company
- racial slurs and bigoted behavior
- 6 months to 6 years
Relationship Issues: Psychological & Emotional Affects Price/Cost
- Partner constantly Late
- 3 hours to 3 days
- Partner lack affection or does not show love
- 3 yours to 1 week
- Partner borrowing money and not paying back
- entire relationship
- Partner lack initiative in sex
- entire relationship
- Partner enjoys spending time with friends
- 3 days to 2 weeks
- Partner makes plans without consulting first
- 1 week to end of relationship
Sibling Relationship Issues: Psychological & Emotional Affects Price/Cost
- Sibling Drug Abuses
- 2 days to entire life
- Sibling Selfish acts and Verbal Attacks
- 1 week to 3 weeks
- Sibling borrowing money and not paying back
- entire life
- Parent favoring 1 Sibling over others
- entire life time
- Sibling serving time in jail or going to jail
- entire lifetime
The point of this opinion is to help others to see that there is a Psychological and Emotional Cost/Price to all things that we don't pay attention to.
Each time an act takes place, a reaction to that act takes place, and if that reaction to the act causes one to be affected negatively mentally or negatively emotionally, each second that you are affected negatively mentally or emotionally, is the cost of that act against you.
Calling a child stupid, affects a child to wonder why he/she is being called stupid, and the child wonders why..., and feels that the adult is being mean by calling him/her stupid..., so the child goes into his/her room and cries.
Thus, the next time the child sees the verbally abusive adult, the child is in a protective mode in order to ensure that he/she is not called stupid, and for a "X" amount of time, the child will continue to behave this way with the adult, which is long term affect to the child, which is a long term cost/price to his/her mental & emotional state of mind.
There is a cost for all mal treatments, as there are benefits from great treatment of others.
Psychological & Emotional Peace Is A Conscientious Choice
Ones Psychological Peace comes when a person chooses to take part in ones day to day decisions as an individual and not as a sub partner in a relationship.
Remaining strong mentally is a task that is decided each day, with the term "task" referring to specific acts or actions that take place daily, and these tasks occupy the mind's attention to the extent that the focus occupies time of day, that otherwise would have open the doors of opportunity for bad thoughts or bad things that happen when one is not on a path mentally.
Ones Emotional Peace comes when a person chooses to take part in ones day to day emotional decisions as an independent individual and not as a sub partner in a relationship.
Allowing others to put you in a bad emotional position is often our individual fault, however, one can rectify the emotional weight by addressing all concerns up front, with logic and strength.
Emotional Turmoil takes place even with friendships, and it's those friendships that cause emotional degradation that have to be approach equivalent to how one approaches a mal relationship that causes one to experience pain in the heart.
The System that protects our minds and our hearts from others who are not conscientious aware of how their actions affect your individual person is:
Demand Immediately that the person treats you with the utmost respect, and anything short of respectful treatment should be met, "immediately" with a "one on one, eye to eye" conversation, which you verbally state what the issue is, and state that the issue is not allowed to happen again.
Enforce Your Demand for Respect:
Individuals who have been briefed for not respecting your demand for respect once, are placed in the "cautious" category and the next act of lack of respect is identified and that person is then "Fired" as a friend or fired as a partner.
It takes a conscientious decision to ask for forgiveness, it also to take a conscious decision to disrespect others.
Avoid those who choose to disrespect you, and your world will remain peaceful Psychologically and Emotionally.
In My Opinion
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