Periodically I get e-mails and voice mails from people who would like to get involved in addressing bullying at work. More often than not, they have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying firsthand, and now they’d like to do something on a broader scale to prevent bullying and help others who have been targeted. Here are my thoughts on this topic.
First, I’d suggest pondering these questions:
1. Do you have specific training, work experience, or licensure that provides opportunities to address workplace bullying? If so, you may be able to contribute your specific expertise to this movement.
2. Do you have a personal or professional network that you can influence or tap into? Your networks may be a potential audience for your efforts.
3. Are you ready to learn about workplace bullying beyond your immediate familiarity? Personal experience can be a great teacher, and most people who are active in this movement have been bullying targets, have witnessed others being bullied, or have been close to someone who was bullied. But workplace bullying is a topic with complexities that go well beyond one person’s experience. The more you know, the more effective you’ll be as a change agent.
4. Especially if you’ve experienced workplace bullying, are you ready and able to become involved in a movement that may cause you to revisit some of those bad experiences? Admitting that you’re not ready to become active in these efforts is a sign of self-honesty and strength, not personal weakness. For some people, getting active in this movement is an affirming activity. For others, it is too unpleasant a reminder of what they went through, and they owe no apologies for that. Take care of yourself first, and make a decision accordingly.
Next, if you truly want to get involved, consider these possibilities:
- Support the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill. Go here to identify ways to be part of the advocacy campaign.
- If you feel secure in doing so, encourage your employer to develop anti-bullying policies, procedures, and training programs. In this context there is strength in numbers, as the University of Massachusetts workplace anti-bullying campaign illustrates.
- Speak out. Post about workplace bullying on social media. When articles about workplace bullying appear online, post comments that reinforce the importance of stopping bullying at work, taking on Internet “trolls” who deny that bullying is a serious problem in our workplaces. Help create a chorus of voices who proclaim that workplace bullying is inexcusable behavior.
- If you’re in a union, get them on board with this. ‘Nuff said. Go here for a sampling of what unions can do to put an end to workplace bullying.
- Encourage civic or professional groups in which you are active to support the workplace anti-bullying movement. Organizations associated with specific professions or vocations are especially good possibilities.
- If you are in a position to do so, provide financial support for workplace anti-bullying initiatives.
- Play an active role in efforts to prevent and respond to bullying behaviors across the lifespan, including in schools and senior facilities, in addition to the workplace. After all, bullying does not start and end in one setting.
If you want a great example of a super activist concerning workplace bullying, then take a look at the work of Drew Mitchell, who hosts a Stop Workplace Bullies Now! Facebook page and website. Drew has created an important role for himself as a writer and connector in this movement.
I’m sure I’ve omitted other viable possibilities, and I’m happy to take your suggestions in the comments.