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Dealing with conflict

Lately, there seems to be more and more talk about workplace bullying.  In this blog entry, I will discuss some behaviors that are associated with workplace bullying; possibly you will recognize some of them.  

Workplace bullies use a myriad of tactics to intimidate their targets.  Specifically, bullies publicly ridicule people trying to diminish them in front of their co-workers.  One target reported that while teaching a class, the bully stood outside his door and mocked him in front of his students.  The result was both professional and personal humiliation.  

Bullies may gossip about the target, and this could result in social isolation from the target’s co-workers.  One individual said the bully spread gossip about her, and her co-workers began to avoid her and duck into their offices when she walked down the hall.  

When bullies are direct supervisors, they may intentionally withhold important information necessary to do the job.  Other bullying tactics include setting impossible deadlines for completing work or assigning impossible workloads.  This sets the individuals up for failure. 

Finally, bullies may sabotage the target’s work or to take credit for it.  At one organization, the bully deliberately moved files to make it look as though the target was doing shoddy work.  Although others knew this was happening, no one stood up to the bully because they were afraid of losing their jobs.  

It is easy to see that workplace bullies may be caustic to organizations. By destroying individual morale and motivation, they may also be damaging the organization’s profitability.