Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week 2011: October 16-22

“Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week,” an annual observance sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute, runs from October 16 through 22.  It is an important opportunity for supporters of the workplace anti-bullying movement to educate the public and rally others to the cause.

In the U.S., this movement is reaching the point where workplace bullying is a recognized phenomenon. Although there always are new audiences who haven’t named or labeled this hurtful and destructive behavior, these days we’re having to explain ourselves a little less than before. Within wider circles, the term “workplace bullying” is used and understood. Our educational work is far from over — the need will endure — but we’re seeing progress in terms of public comprehension.

For today, I want to center our attention on action. Toward that end, I’m re-posting my article “Ten ways to stop workplace bullying,” from December 2010:

Ten ways to stop workplace bullying

When people talk to me about workplace bullying, they often ask, what can I do to help? The following list is hardly exhaustive, but it’s a starting place:

1. Don’t — Don’t be a workplace bully. It starts with each of us.

2. Stand up — Stand up for someone who is being bullied. Silence equals permission.

3. Support — Similarly, support friends, colleagues, and family members who are experiencing bullying at work. Validate their concerns and, where appropriate, guide them to coaching, counseling, and legal assistance. (For some resources, go here.)

4. Ask — Ask your employer to educate employees about workplace bullying and to include an anti-bullying policy in the employee handbook.

5. Post — If you read an article on workplace bullying, post a comment to it online, voicing your support for taking this problem seriously. Help to generate momentum for the anti-bullying movement.

6. Talk — Yes, just talk about it with others. Without making a pest of yourself to your friends, family, and associates, discuss bullying as part of the workplace experience for many employees.

7. Law reform — Support anti-bullying legislation. For readers in the U.S., get active in the grassroots campaign to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill in states around the nation (link here). (Full disclosure: I’m the author of the Healthy Workplace Bill, so I do have an interest in seeing it enacted!)

8. Unions — If you are a member of a union, lobby your union leaders to educate members about workplace bullying and to negotiate an abusive supervision clause in the collective bargaining agreement, as discussed here.

9. Faith — If you are a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque, encourage your congregational leaders and fellow members to include workplace bullying among their social action concerns.

10. Connect — We must connect workplace bullying to other forms of interpersonal abuse, such as school bullying, cyber bullying, and domestic abuse. There are many unfortunate similarities between them, and helping others to understand this will serve as a powerful consciousness raising mechanism.

Words of caution

Some of these actions carry personal risks. There is something very threatening about this topic to certain individuals and organizations. Furthermore, when someone is suffering due to workplace bullying, they may be in a difficult place psychologically. Thus, please consider:

1. Those who stand up for bullying targets may find themselves next on the firing line. This is a very real possibility.

2. A bad employer may consider you a troublemaker simply for asking that the organization oppose these behaviors.

3. Posting a comment online about workplace bullying may lead to some people to ridicule your concerns.

4. Providing homebrewed psychological counseling or legal advice is not only unwise, but also illegal if you are not licensed to provide such assistance.


Related post

Cities, towns, and counties proclaim support for Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week 2011

10 responses

  1. I love this article and I want to show my support for Freedom from Workplace Bullies week.I live in Scotland and have recently been the target of workplace bullying by a manager with a lot of psychopathic traits according to the work of Babiak and Hare.Although there are many heplful groups and websites here in the UK we still need to do so much more to raise awareness of and deal with this issue. I am now in a new job and am about to start working with the union that supported me through my 18 month ordeal.

    • Kathy, thanks for your comment. It is indicative of how people are educating themselves about this form of abuse that you cite Babiak and Hare! I wish you the best of luck in your new position.

  2. Thank you for your list of action steps to stop workplace bullying. I particularly appreciated the “words of caution” list. It is true that standing up for yourself has some very real risks especially if you are working for an unenlighted organization. I am a survivor of workplace bullying. I was fired after speaking up and asking for help. I knew the risk I was taking when I took this action, but the risk of not doing it was greater to my own sense of self. Although the path after my termination was difficult, I have survived because of the power I felt in taking a stand. Being bullied is a painful, humiliating and lonely existence. Although this is the first time I have responded to your blog, I have kept up with it for a long time. Your words have validated and comforted me. Thank you for all you do.

    • Linda, thank you for your kind words and for sharing your own struggle and perspective.

      BTW, I clicked to your coaching website — — and find it very relevant to so many women who have experienced workplace bullying. Over and again I see middle-aged women targeted by workplace bullies.

    • yes!!!! words of caution is an important part of the cause……..please don’t let it deter you from doing what is RIGHT, LEGAL and most importantly ETHICAL……..there are very real sacrifices we make for what we are passionate about……but as the author suggests….it can create mayhem in one’s own life……..I will always be passionate about a healthy workplace……it is written in my SOUL……its a JOB….BUT people play an important role in my life as a human being……and I choose to stand up for what is right and decent….can you? Have a beautiful day peoples! :))))

  3. Pingback: Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week – It’s Going On Now! « Stop Workplace Bullies…Now!

  4. Just today we had a situation at work where a colleague of mine was being accused of something she did not do. I wanted to go on and confront our supervisor but my colleague begged me not to get involved. Still I feel very nauseated that things like these are happening where I work, especially because my employer is a university. I work amongst professors and staff members with masters and Ph.D. degrees but a lot of them never got a Ph.D. in civility. It’s sad…

  5. Hey Supporters, and new folks; If you work in NYS, be very carefull. The NYS unemployment office does not support this movement. I was physically assaulted by a 30 year nurse, and have been fighting for over a year, to get my back unemployment benefits. A second hospital in NYS was worse, the upper management has been encouraging bullying for over six years. It cost me, my dream of being an open heart nurse, and it cost two other VA employees, one lost her job, and was paid off, and the second one, a doctor suffers through the bullying daily.
    Please call your state, and federal representatives; Hana, Griffo, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Cuomo to stop thiese injustices. Thank you!

  6. Hi Diane: Read your blog. I am so sorry. I know how devasting it is. Have you appealed the decision to reject your benefits? I’m not a lawyer and not sure about NY unemployment laws, but if you have’nt appealed, personally, I would give it considerable thought. If you have, stay the course. If you are tired, get a reprieve. I was “tired” for two years. I am stronger now and capable of letting people know of the devasting treatment that “superiors” or their “close associates” are able to put intelligent, good, and dedicated employees through. Good luck. My thoughts are with you.

    In the spirit of the Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, let’s all work together to succeed and end this unacceptable use of power that destroys not only the bullied, but also their families, their lives. Special thanks, Mr. Yamada.

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