Bullying in the Workplace (Part 1): Are You a Bully?

Posted in : HR Updates on 11 August 2016
Tanya Kennedy
Purpose Consultancy

Are you a ‘bully boss’ and don’t know it?

Why is it so difficult to identify bullying in ourselves? Perhaps, we simply don’t want to, or perhaps we can’t.

Ask yourself this.

Has your single-mindedness and drive helped you become successful? But now, just as it should all be coming together, something isn’t quite right.

  • When in meetings, does your team claim everything is on track, yet things aren’t just happening as they should, yet no-one came to you before problems escalated? 
  • When you ask a question, does no one want to answer?
  • Are you frustrated because people don’t quite ‘get’ your vision?

When you create an intimidating or excluding atmosphere at work, the reality is, you could be a bully and the effects of bullying can last long after the bullying has stopped.

If you have sometimes wondered, or are unsure whether you may be a bully at work, these questions might help you to reflect.

1. Do I know what bullying is?

There is no legal definition of workplace bullying. However, experts believe that bullying involves negative behaviour being targeted at an individual, or individuals, repeatedly and persistently over time. (hse.gov.uk)

2. How’s my listening?

Do you listen carefully when people are talking or do you think mostly about how you will respond? Listening, with empathy, is a good guard against bullying.

3. How much does my position matter to me?

If your reputation is largely built around your position, you might be more susceptible to putting yourself above others. Remember, strength is also measured in honesty, trustworthiness, and compassion.

4. Do people come to me for advice?

If you are somebody who people turn to for help, especially when they feel vulnerable, this might be a gauge for knowing you are not a bully. Remember trust goes both ways; as you open up to others, people will open up to you.

5. How do I resolve conflicts?

Bullies may often avoid respectful conflict, trying instead to establish positions of control over those they clash with through manipulation, passive aggression, and putting people down. Sometimes the putdown is behind someone’s back. It requires bravery and honesty to be upfront and vulnerable when you have conflicts.

6. Do I persuade or coerce?

Be confident enough to be clear with your perspective and generous enough to listen to others’ views. In any team collaboration, let the best ideas win, not just yours.

If any of these are setting off any alarm bells, check it out with others. Ask a mentor, a co-worker, HR or a counterpart in a different company for feedback on your behavior

Bullying, even occasionally, is a deep-seated habit that may have stemmed from a childhood where bullying behaviour was the norm, or a workplace where a hierarchy was encouraged.  But it can be unlearned with help and support.

Recognising that you may be a bully is the first step to building healthy relationships and creating a positive, creative and flourishing workplace.

This article is correct at 11/08/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Tanya Kennedy
Purpose Consultancy

The main content of this article was provided by Tanya Kennedy. Contact telephone number is 07710488905 or email tanya@purposeconsultancy.com

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