Male targets of workplace bullying

Many of us in the workplace anti-bullying movement have understood that men who face workplace bullying are less likely than women to talk about their experiences and to seek assistance. However, thanks to the work of Dr. Sue O’Donnell (U. New Brunswick, Canada), we have an excellent seven-minute video that captures a cross section of the male experience of being a bullying target. I had the privilege of watching the video as part of her presentation at the 2017 Work, Stress and Health conference currently underway in Minneapolis.

A nursing school professor, Dr. O’Donnell worked with New Brunswick colleague Dr. Judith MacIntosh to conduct interviews of men who had experienced workplace bullying and then teamed with Nick Wilson Videography to turn those interviews into a form of live testimony. It’s a powerful video that will resonate specially with men who have struggled with workplace bullying and how to talk about it. This is no small subset of targets. To illustrate, the Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2014 U.S. national prevalence study found that among survey respondents, some 40 percent of workplace bullying targets were male.

Drs. O’Donnell and MacIntosh have co-authored “Gender and Workplace Bullying: Men’s Experiences of Surviving Bullying at Work” (Qualitative Health Research), their underlying research study for the video. Here’s the abstract of the piece:

Although men are targets of workplace bullying, there is limited research focused on their experiences. To address this gap, we used a qualitative grounded theory approach and interviewed a community sample of 20 Atlantic Canadian men to explore and explain their experiences of, and responses to, bullying. The main problem identified by men was a lack of workplace support to address and resolve the bullying, a challenge named abandonment. Men addressed this problem by surviving, a process that involved efforts to manage persistent bullying and the associated consequences. Men experienced physical, emotional, and social health consequences and, contrary to prevailing assumptions related to men’s help-seeking behaviors, men want support and many sought help to address the problem and its consequences. Responses to abandonment and the associated consequences varied according to a number of factors including gender and highlight the need for research aimed at understanding the gendered nature of bullying.

5 responses

  1. The most painful part of workplace bullying is when you seek legal recourse and find there is none.
    At best you hope your boss bully caves in and you get some settlement. If you are lucky an attorney will try to do this for you. It can be costly in billable hours – 10k to 20 K minimum.
    More than that you probably can’t even find an attorney who will have interest in patching together a strategy to manipulate existing legal statutes to attempt a court action.

  2. Pingback: Male targets of workplace bullying | Stop Workplace Bullies...Now!

  3. I very much appreciated the video! Congratulations to the creators. The stories in the video illustrate the profoundly painful impact of cumulative humiliation!

    Thanks for sharing this valuable work with all of us, David!

  4. In my research, men who have been bullied do suffer uniquely to women, mostly do to the perceptions of society and biological make-up. Society, in general, sees men as the providers; this compounded with ageism and lack of whistleblower protection, can be very damaging especially because most are supporting a family. Men also tend to hold in their emotions, cry less, and are less likely to speak to a therapist or clergy. Their hormonal make-up, specifically testosterone, that helped the cave man protect his family from danger, I would argue may account for cases of “going postal” and/or killing family and committing violent suicide. Men also tend to own more guns than females. I’m just going full disclosure here by saying that the cases of males who have been bullied and have or contemplated committing suicide that I know of have done or contemplated doing it in a violent way, I have contemplated doing it only through neglect.

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