May 15th, 2013
Workplace bullying: Power of the name
It’s funny that the operative verb for discovering our website and the term “workplace bullying” is always “stumbled upon.” That accurately describes the weeks or months since the beginning of the misery instigated by the bully wasted by targets blaming themselves. That span of time is a dark bewildering time. The reality is that targets can be bullied without knowing it.
They believe the lies that they are suddenly incompetent. They have typically never had this happen to them before and do not recognize the evil nature that some people bring to the workplace. They doubt themselves.
Eventually, they find us and recognize that our description of their reality matches and voila, they have a name for what has been happening to them. They have been bullied at work!
Plenty of synonyms apply: psychological violence, abusive conduct, mobbing, psychological harassment.
When we started 16 years ago, I underestimated the power of this discovery. Since then, I’ve learned how powerful it is.
For the first time, targets can pinpoint the source of the treachery they’ve experienced. It is not them. They are not crazy. They know they didn’t invite the humiliation. But HR and the law (in the U.S. at least) did not allow them to legitimately, in a legal sense, hold abusers accountable.
Most important, they start to connect the dots. The sleepless nights now make sense. It’s stress. The loss of concentration and muddled thinking and sense of doom — it’s depression. Until they seem the causal sequence — bullying leads to stress-related health problems — they see no reason to visit their physician or to find a therapist. Now their doctor can tell them how dangerous their skyrocketing blood pressure is.
They were hurt, insulted and buried by an avalanche of injustice, but did not know to blame the bully. It is the bully (or bullies) who control who gets targeted, when assaults begin and end, and what particular version of cruelty is chosen. Externalizing the problem is the first step toward well being. Research reliably compares the mental health impact of sexual harassment to that of bullying. Bullying is always worse for its victims.
Until the target recognizes that it is bullying, a non-physical form of violence in the workplace, taking steps to get safe cannot begin.
That’s the power of naming it. The day targets discover those two soothing words — Workplace Bullying — is a happy, liberating day. Of course, the hard work has just begun, but it is the real beginning of working toward freedom with one’s eyes fully open.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 9:50 am and is filed under Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.