Fifteen Ways to Spot Bullying in Your Organization

We're all familiar with bullying. It's estimated that around half of employees have experienced some type of bullying at work. And I estimate the other half got a taste of it in junior high.

Bullies are simple creatures. They need to be in control, at the expense of their target. If that isn't bad enough, they encourage the same behaviors in others.

Last year we found out harassing isn't just done to the weak. If a big, bad football lineman like Miami Dolphin, Jonathan Martin, can be bullied and harassed by teammates, it can happen to anyone.

You Know You've Been Bullied When...

Bullying within an organization is a pattern of inappropriate, abusive conduct that's aggressive and intimidating.

If you're wondering if you've got bullying going on, or worse, you think you may be a target, check out the video Let's Talk . . . Harassment & Bullying. It's spells out a variety of specific bullying actions.

Below are 15 examples of bully techniques from the video. As you read through them, they may seem familiar. That's because they're the same techniques from Junior High.

  1. Verbally undermining a person's self-esteem through direct put-downs, sarcasm, or implying that he or she is incompetent, immature, or a detriment to the organization.
  2. Taking credit for or plagiarizing someone else's work or ideas.
  3. Intimidating someone by blocking his or her path or access to a workspace or needed equipment.
  4. Shoving, inappropriately touching, or otherwise physically assaulting.
  5. Cyber-bullying by posting inappropriate message or pictures on social networking sites.
  6. Gossiping or spreading rumors.
  7. Yelling or laughing at someone. Also, name-calling or other verbal abuse.
  8. Making overt or veiled threats of demotion, dismissal or even physical harm.
  9. Isolating someone by ostracizing or excluding him or her socially, or putting the person in socially awkward situations.
  10. Withholding information needed to work effectively or fit in socially.
  11. Placing someone in physically dangerous situations.
  12. Gesturing threateningly.
  13. Ridiculing, mocking or otherwise intentionally humiliating someone.
  14. Abusive hazing or initiations.
  15. Trying to embarrass someone by revealing his or her personal information.

Don't let your office become a junior high playground. Recognize bullying and harassment and stomp it out. Then watch productivity rise.

If you're wondering how to stomp it out . . . stay tuned to the next blog.

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.