February 26th, 2013
Bullying Is Workplace Violence
It is not homicide, nor is it physical battery, but Workplace Bullying in its most severe form is violence. Its damage stems from psychological injury and stress-related diseases that destroy an employee’s ability to perform work accurately.
Here is our continuum of negative behavior that arranges mistreatment from mild to extreme. It appears in our book, The Bully-Free Workplace.
A stronger class of negative conduct is Disrespect. It is personalized, there is a target. It is the beginning of contemptuous interactions in which one person believes the other is a lesser human being than she or he.
Bullying is everything including incivility and disrespect up to, but stopping short of, physical violence. One popular synonym for bullying is psychological violence. Bullying is harmful to the targeted person’s health. Health harm is based on the person’s stress response in reaction to stressors, especially cruel people with whom that person works.
As tactics escalate, a line is crossed rendering the mistreatment abusive. In fact, bullying is akin to domestic violence where the abuser is on the payroll. Bullying is NOT simply eye-rolling or inappropriate jokes. Those would fall lower on the scale. We reserve the term workplace bullying for repeated, harmful, abusive mistreatment — a form of workplace violence.
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