Monday, April 4, 2016

The Dynamics of Workplace Bullying

Workplace conflicts are normal but the extent of those conflicts could indicate workplace bullying and the need for immediate conflict resolution. People with high conflict personalities create toxic work environments that foster bullying behavior that can rip an organization's soul apart. Understanding the factors can make a difference in how the organization is managed.

It is beneficial to first understand there are four major factors involved in a workplace bullying that influence its likelihood. There is the bully, the victim, the social network and  the work environment. The bully is the aggressor, the victim is the recipient of aggression, the social network behavioral expectations, and the environment is associated with the cultural tolerance of bullying.

The Bully:

The bully acts upon deep seated fears and must maintain control of their environment in order to feel secure. For those with High Conflict Personality they have a lack of empathy and insight into their actions making them unable to manager their own behavior let alone the behaviors of others. They can only accept limitations based on their own fear of loss related to the job, public perception, or something of value.

The Victim:

The victim is also part of the mix as bully seeks people to unload their emotional baggage on unsuspecting individuals. Research has shown that those who are cautious, go along, or who try and take charge to show their worth are perfect targets (Perminiene, et. al., 2014). It allows the bully to feed off their fears in a way that keeps the person down while allowing the bully to feed their ego needs.

The Social Network:

The great defense against bullying is social network. The stronger the social network of the person the less likely the person can be bullied. Furthermore, there is a network for the person to rely on and find support in. Bullies don't have the strength to move against large groups of supported people.

The Work Environment:

The acceptable norms and values of the workforce. If senior leadership engages in bullying and rewards "win at all costs" approaches than it is likely employees will mirror those behaviors. Strong policies and removal of people who exceed the bounds of appropriate behavior should be a priority in creating a collaborative environment.

Perminien, M. et. al. (2014). Lifestyle conflict-solving styles, and exposure to workplace bullying: a model of mediation. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 75 (2).

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