What Should You Do When You Witness Workplace Bullying?

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By Judith Munson

More and more we are understanding that bullying and mobbing don’t just apply to children or in the school yard, but occur in adults, in the workplace and other settings. And, the consequences of bullying for both children and adults are high. Bullying can have a significant long term affect on how children develop. Also, victims of bullying in the workplace may experiences psychological illnesses, loss of income, and even physical problems. Learn more about bullying, whether it’s related to children, or adults in the workplace from the resources in this category.

In our keynote article, we look at the role NON-participant observers have when they do nothing when they see bullying occur. The solution is that all of us need to send hte message that we won’t support bullying by being silent, even when we aren’t the victims.

Instead of sticking your head in the sand and hoping that it will all go away, (it never does) there is one thing you can do when you witness workplace bullying and that is to speak Up and inform the proper authorities in that department!

Research does show that even though 95% of co-workers know when someone is being verbally abused, intimidated or bullied, only about 8% of them actually did something about it. 28% of these witnesses felt sorry for what was happening and offered some type of moral support to the target.

The remainder of them did absolutely nothing at all or, if you can believe it, they sided with the bully!

Why is it that most people don’t do anything when they see bullying happening?

The biggest reason that we have found for this inaction on the part of the witnesses is simply, fear. As much as we hate to see others get hurt, we often have thoughts like, “I’m glad it’s not me.”

Witnesses are often afraid that speaking up might turn them into a target and they are usually right.

It is a real possibility because, hardly anyone who witnesses any type of workplace bullying first hand wants to take the bull (bully) by the horns and talk about it with their supervisor or report it to HR department or other proper authorities.

Just remember this though, if you do nothing, you can be considered an accomplice to the bully. So please, say something to someone, even if it’s just a few words of support to the person that is being victimized.

Here is a very interesting case study that we found.

Doctors, and in particular, surgeons, are often seen bullying those around them especially in the operating room. In light of this fact, nurses around the world have developed what is called a “Code Pink.”

Here’s how it works, if a doctor starts bullying a nurse, other nurses in the vicinity will stand beside the nurse being bullied and form a circle around her/him.

They will also display assertive body language and stare at the doctor until he realizes that his behavior isn’t acceptable. This is a strong way of stating that no one will tolerate bullying, and it often sends such a compelling message to the person doing the bullying that it prevents it from happening again.

Please do something if it is obvious that workplace bullying is going on. You could very well be saving the health or even the life of the person getting bullied, it’s that important.

Judith Munson is an expert in the field of workplace bullying. She’s the author of, “Alligators In The Water Cooler, A guide to identifying bullies and their buddies in the workplace”, along with a number of other publications and articles. Because she was mobbed by a bully and her buddies, Judith has become a speaker, trainer and facilitator against all types of bullying behaviors in the workplace along with being a strong advocate of the Healthy Workplace Bill.

To learn more about Judith and her work, go to Workplace Intimidation, phone 530-873-6159 or email: judith_munson@yahoo.com

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