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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Bullies Belong in Bull Pens—Not Cubicles

Women being bullied at work

It's not my imagination: we've become far too accepting of bullies at work. Bullying behavior is on the rise and it's not just on the playground but in workplaces.

Look around. Have you noticed some certifiable bullies? These are folks who constantly demean, ridicule, put down, or purposely ignore those with less "power" than they have. And it's tolerated.

One health care organization told me of a physician who regularly, verbally assaults nurses and interns. A vice president in a development company uses the silent treatment as a way of telling an employee that she's a non-entity, even going so far as to threaten staff if they speak to this employee! A law firm keeps a rain maker despite the fact he eats colleagues and administrative assistants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Avoid Making Bullies Heroes

We've made heroes of other bullies, even tolerating bullying-like behavior, in some folks who represent the United States. Sadly, behavior ignored is behavior endorsed. Complacency equals complicity. The organization and its leaders develop a reputation for arrogance and insensitivity.

It makes little sense. Getting and keeping good talent is one of the top two worries of CEOs. Who wants to work with bullies? Research also indicates that performance and productivity actually increase when bullies are eliminated. Here’s where to start:

Create a NO BULLY rule and mean it.

  • Confront bully behavior as soon as it happens.

  • Train everyone how to identify bully behavior and how to react, respond, and report.

  • Look yourself in the eye and ask for honest feedback. We all carry some of the bullying gene inside of us.

PS: And if stuck, read Sam Horn’s newest book: Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations.


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