October is the month to focus on bullying prevention. Not only is it National Bullying Prevention Month, but it's also a time to focus on preventing workplace bullying. In fact, Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week is October 14-20.
Anytime bullying is mentioned, most of us imagine the playground bully or mean girls. But bullying isn't limited schools. It's also a workplace issue. In fact, there's an interesting article on workplace bullying in Psychology Today. In it, the author points out that 35 percent of workers have experienced workplace bullying firsthand.
Meanwhile, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health indicates that one out of four companies have experienced workplace bullying in the last year. The vast majority of these bullies are bosses, managers, supervisors and executives. But bullying also exists in peer-to-peer relationships.
Regardless of their rank in the company, workplace bullies operate in a culture of silence and fear. And although bullying tactics vary from person to person, almost all workplace bullies are looking to advance their position within the company at the expense of someone else.
Until recently, there has been very little legal direction indicating how to handle workplace bullies. But this will likely change in the next few years. In fact, 21 states have introduced The Healthy Workplace Bill. But no laws have been enacted. Some predict this will change soon though.
Until then, it's important that you are able to spot a workplace bully and tell the difference between normal conflict and bullying, especially if you are a manager or supervisor. And if you're a target of workplace bullying, check out my article How to Confront Workplace Bullying.Photo courtesy of iStockphoto