Recently, I found this article titled The Silent Epidemic: Workplace Bullying on the Psychology Today website, written by Ray Williams.
The psychology behind this sort of behavior is really interesting, as well as glaringly disturbing. Basically another example of the desensitization of our culture & our general obsession for power. I think many companies and people alike could make a lot of positive changes if this was an issue taken more seriously. The truth is that stress is more harmful than we can see on the surface. Ahem.
Workplace bullying has become a silent epidemic North America, one that has huge hidden costs in terms of employee well being and productivity. Also known as psychological harassment or emotional abuse, bullying involves the conscious repeated effort to wound and seriously harm another person not with violence, but with words and actions. Bullying damages the physical, emotional and mental healthy of the person who is targeted…
The workplace bully abuses power, brings misery to his/her target and endeavors to steal the target’s self-confidence. Bullies often involve others using many tactics such as blaming for errors, unreasonable work demands, insults, putdowns, stealing credit, threatening job loss, and discounting accomplishments.
Who are these bullies? The WBI concluded that while perpetrators can be found in all ranks within organizations, the vast majority are bosses-managers, supervisors, and executives.
Bullies create a terrible toll within an organization. Their behavior leads to increased levels of stress among employees, higher rates of absenteeism and higher than normal attrition. One study by John Medina showed that workers stressed by bullying performed 50% worse on cognitive tests. Other studies estimate the financial costs of bullying at more than $200 billion per year. A study by Dr. Noreen Tehrani, who counseled victims of violence in Northern Ireland, and soldiers returning from overseas combat and victims of workplace, concluded that bullying exhibited similar psychological and physical symptoms-nightmares and extreme anxiety, and a variety of physical ailments.
In an article by Richard Williams, Wallace Higgins and Harvey Greenberg, published in the Boston Globe, they cited numerous research studies regarding leadership style and the health of employees. They concluded “your boss can cause you stress, induce depression and anxiety or even trigger the onset of serious illnesses. It is not just bad managers who can negatively affect employee health, but it is also the halfhearted and mediocre who put employees on the sick list.” And the cost is huge in terms of lost productivity, healthcare costs and employee turnover. The authors argue that a whole new field of litigation in the U.S. is developing-“lawsuits against ‘bad bosses’ and the organizations that negligently allow them to supervise.”
Lisa M.S. Barrow, author of In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying, says “Bullies typically possess a Type A personality; they are competitive and appear driven, operating as they do from a sense of urgency. This has its advantages in the workplace but the shadow side of Type A is the tendency to become frustrated and verbally abusive when things don’t go according to plan. Impatience and temper tantrums are common for Type A individuals who haven’t engaged in t the personal growth required to gain self-awareness, maintain emotional stability and consider situations from multiple points of view. Because of the bully’s “two-faced nature”– considerate if things are going well and abusive if not– his/her presence in an organization can cause the work environment to become tense. People feel as if they are walking on eggshells around the bully. They feel he/she is a sleeping giant, who could, upon waking, explode with rage. Above all, bullies crave power and control, and this craving underlies much of what they do, say and fail to do and say. Bullies use charm and deceit to further their own ends and seem oblivious to the trail of damage they leave behind, as long as their appetites for power and control are fulfilled.”
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the targets of office bullies are not the new, inexperienced and less confident employees. The targets, according to research, are the highly competent, accomplished, experienced and popular employees. And making them targets makes it harder for them to get notice or reprieve. Independent, experienced workers pose the greatest threat to the bullies. And when bullies find targets that refuse to be controlled and intimidated, they escalate their behavior.”[/accordion]