Archive for the ‘Tutorials About Bullying’ Category


Torture & Workplace Bullying: Similar Abusive Tactics

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

At WBI we consistently draw the analogy between domestic violence and abusive conduct at work (the most serious forms of workplace bullying). Our rationale is based on the following commonalities shared by these two forms of abusive relationships:

• The abuser has more power to wield over the abused person
• The abuser unilaterally controls when, where and what method
• Abusers objectify, dehumanize and show contempt for victims
• Society tends to blame victims for their fate
• Victims are expected to solve their problem themselves
• Witnesses rarely intervene
• Institutional responses are delayed, inadequate and not helpful
• Root causes, often embedded societal values, remain unexplored

Advocates working to end domestic, or partner, violence described the myriad of tactics used by abusers using the 8-factor Biderman “chart of coercion.” Albert Biderman interviewed US Air Force pilots who had been captured and tortured during the Korean war. The Chinese taught interrogation techniques to the North Koreans. The piolots described their experiences and Biderman distilled the range of techniques to eight fundamental methods designed to break the will of, and brainwash, the pilots. In 1957, Biderman published his report “Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War.” [Note that Biderman recognized that torture produces false confessions. The 8-factor report became the model for US torture of prisoners at Guantanamo.] That article was the origin of the Biderman Chart of Coercion.

Domestic violence and child abuse advocates use the Biderman Chart to describe abusers’ tactics in their specialty domains.

Therefore, it is logical for us to apply Biderman’s Chart to workplace bullying, given the parallels with domestic violence. In its most extreme forms, bullying is torture. See the chart below.

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Woman-on-woman bullying: UK tech Destiny mag

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Beef With Bullies
By Mariam Isa, Destiny Connect (UK), Dec 4, 2014

The prevalence of woman-on-woman bullying in the workplace is surprisingly high and, in many instances, is spiraling out of control in the absence of legislation or company policies to curb it. We look at what is behind this insidious trend

Lillian Karuri-Magero, Sourcing Executive for Africa at Barclays Absa, is successful, confident and assertive. She began her second job in the IT industry full of enthusiasm and energy, but ended up leaving prematurely after being bullied by a woman senior who deliberately alienated her from the office environment.

“She publicly humiliated me many times, using her rank to belittle my work. She deliberately withheld information that would have made my working life more efficient and my outputs quicker and better. She called meetings without including me and her behaviour towards me was blatantly rude – no ‘good morning’ or ‘goodbye’, barking orders and things like that – which, to me, are outright bullying. It made my ability to function almost impossible,” Karuri-Magero says.

Eventually she decided to confront the bully, but it only made things worse: the woman began calling her into her office and behaving more belligerently than 
she would ever have dared to do in front of her own manager. So Karuri-Magero approached the company’s HR department for help. That also failed, as the bully, who had been in the company much longer than she had, blatantly lied, making it her word against her victim’s. At that point, Karuri-Magero resigned, feeling helpless.

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Guest: The Lived Experiences of Bullied Teachers

Monday, December 8th, 2014

By Deidra A. Sorrell Ed.D., NCC, LPC

Summarizing her newly completed doctoral dissertation …

The research examined the lived experiences of elementary school educators facing workplace bullying within public schools.

The researcher recruited six elementary school educator-participants from WBI volunteers. All participants were female and over forty-years-old. All of the participants experienced bullying after taking medical leave due to preexisting health issues, which caused more stress and anxiety. As a coping mechanism, all of the participants found the teachers union ineffective in solving their disputes. The educators were interviewed at length to gain extensive descriptions of their experiences.

Three major themes emerged from the data. The themes included: (a) experiences with workplace bullying, (b) coping, and (c) environmental factors contributing to workplace bullying.

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Univ of Minnesota: Graduate student bullying

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Grad and Professional Student Bullying Rises
By Christopher Aadland, Minnesota Daily, November 24, 2014

University of Minnesota surveys show peer-to-peer and faculty-to-student bullying has risen since 2007.

From verbal attacks to threats, graduate and professional students are increasingly experiencing harassment and bullying at the University of Minnesota, according to surveys.

“… I’ve lost all desire for research because of the continual harassment and hostile environment I’ve experienced,” an anonymous student said in a recent survey. “I never thought I would give up on research, but I guess anything’s possible. I’ve given up.”

For the past decade, Jan Morse, director of the University of Minnesota’s Student Conflict Resolution Center, has noticed an upsurge in graduate and professional students coming to her office looking for relief from bullies.

And despite work over the last six years by a group of school administrators, faculty members and students that aims to tackle bullying, this year’s survey still shows graduate and professional students are increasingly experiencing harassment.

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WBI Survey: Impugning the Integrity of Targets of Workplace Bullying

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

ARE BULLIED TARGETS BELIEVED?
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – F

People who find themselves trapped in a bullying scenario can attest to the crazymaking, irrational nature of the mistreatment. Much of the harm caused by the abusive conduct stems from the shattering of targets’ beliefs about fairness, fairness in the work world specifically. First, they are typically the high performers who unknowingly trigger the envy of perpetrators. Targets are aware of their work skill at a deep personal ontological level. Perpetrators come into their lives who determined to reject the agreed-upon perceptions of the targets’ skills. There are objective truths, a reality.

When Bullies are Bosses

Perpetrators often use their formal (by organizational rank) or informal power to state the obviously opposite perception about technically skilled targets. Though this defies reality, they convince organizational allies to believe them and not targets.

In simplest form, it becomes a “he said, he said” deadlock. But most bullies who are bosses rely on support from higher up to add weight to their side.

The shrewdest perpetrators use ingratiation over many years to convince their executive sponsors (their enablers) that they, the bullies, are indispensable. Further, if and when they are described as abusive or destructive by one or more targets in the future, the executive will defend her or his “indispensable” perp by ignoring the target’s portrayal of a friend and colleague.

Thus conditions are not favorable when targets report the facts about what they have experienced at the hands of the favored perpetrator. After all, targets do bring negative news about people who typically outrank them.

When Bullies are Coworkers

In situations where targets have multiple perpetrators, there are many individuals who can provide accounts of alleged bullying incidents that will be at odds with what targets say happened.

For targets bullied by a gang of coworkers (cliques and mobs also are apt descriptions), it is doubly negative. Not only do they outnumber the target, the target is deprived of the chance to have her or his story corroborated by coworkers. Though few coworkers ever step up to offer support to targets, some do. When coworkers are the bullies, the potential source of support is lost.

Gullible investigators (typically working inside the organization for another department) will have their judgement swayed by many against one, and believe the tale that many tell even if those versions are not true.

The Effects of Not Being Believed

For targets, it’s a matter of honor and integrity. Repeated studies have shown that targets claim that their honesty is one of the major reasons for being targeted for abuse. They do seem to be very principled, non-political workers.

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Mediators don’t belong in workplace bullying arena

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

We have long said that mediation is the wrong tool to resolve workplace bullying problems. Mediators are inserting themselves into bullying in growing numbers as if the situations originated in traditional conflict. But bullying involves violence (non-physical varieties), an unequal level of power (real or perceived), and contempt by one person for the other. No serious problem solver believes a credible and fair middle ground can be found. Why further compromise the already compromised target? It is cruel.

A reporter tipped me off to the spring 2014 GitHub scandal. One of the former co-founders, Tom Preston-Werner, had given his CEO position to the other co-founder, Chris Wanstrath in January. GitHub engineer, Julie Ann Horvath, alleged sexual harassment by one of the company founders and his wife and quit. The wife’s threats (of informing husband’s decision making, of engaging spies at company, and intimidating and verbally attacking her) might have been more bullying than harassment, given its same-gender nature. The venture capitalist who invested $100 million in GitHub defended Preston-Werner. Preston-Werner resigned. Wanstrath cleared Preston-Werner of illegal harassment but did say “mistakes” were made.

Of interest to us here at WBI are the tweets Horvath sent recalling the actions of the GitHub-paid mediator who obviously was sent to protect GitHub.

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »



Workplace Bullying University alum runs centre for bullied targets

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

If you are a bullied social worker or anyone bullied at work in Alberta, Edmonton is the place to be. Help can be found at the Alberta Bullying Research, Resources and Recovery Centre. The Centre was established by Linda Crockett. We are proud to say that this extraordinary activist attended WBI’s Workplace Bullying University Training for Professionals to supplement the relevant skills and qualifications she already possessed.

Here is Linda featured in two publications — a profile by her union HSAA (Health Sciences Association in Alberta) and an article by Linda. Linda is an outspoken advocate for the workplace bullying movement — saying all the right things and always pushing to break the silence.

You can reach Linda at the Centre at 780-965-7480. Call for help or call to volunteer to help other professionals.

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Utah Healthy Workplace Bill advocates on radio

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Utah State Coordinator, Denise Halverson, chief advocate for the WBI anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, and citizen lobbyist Travis Ackerman joined Feedback show host Abby Bonell on KNRS (Salt Lake City) to discuss workplace bullying and the HWB on October 30, 2014.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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WBI Survey: Politicians as Bullies?

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

POLITICIANS AS BULLIES?
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – E

It is common knowledge that politics in 2014 America are quite polarized. No longer do politicians pretend to want to solve social problems with social policy. Interactions between politicians are characterized by ad hominem attacks. Politicians seem to be mimicking the personalized nature of bullying. The parallels between the political and workplace domains seemed obvious to us at WBI.

However, critics quickly pounce on our blog musings about the similarities. Commentators say “stick to workplace bullying and stay out of politics.” They believe politics is a field of employment different than any other. The same failure to see equivalence occurred when NFL player Jonathan Martin walked away from his professional football team claiming he endured an “abusive work environment.” The majority of society granted the NFL exemption from treatment as a workplace where employers bear responsibility for harm their employees suffer. It was said that the locker room is so unique it cannot be changed from its barbaric state.

Ironically, the NFL itself defined its locker room as a workplace. Discrimination laws apply. And the Martin case taught the NFL lessons about human responses to abusive conduct even when targets weigh 300 or more pounds.

In this survey, we asked 307 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to give their opinion about whether politics involves bullying or not. Question:

Is bullying by politicians of politicians or citizens as harmful as workplace bullying?

The percentages for each response option were:

.873 Yes, always

.094 Sometimes, only when the less powerful person suffers serious harm

.023 No, political harm is not the same as harm to non-politicians

.001 Never, bullying tactics define politics

The results show that the community of bullied targets does not grant exemptions easily. They conclude that bullying and abuse are the same regardless of venue. Apologists for politicians’ outrageous anti-social behavior towards one another like to say that politics is a special type of workplace, immune from social codes and restrictions that apply to everyone else.

But bullied targets do not see the separation into distinct domains. Anti-abuse rules for everyone should apply everywhere — in families, in schools, in churches, in workplaces and among occupants of our legislative chambers.

Download as PDF file.

© 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute. Do not use without proper citation of WBI as the source.


See the complete set of WBI Studies

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Oettingen: Positive thinking not always effective

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I’ve always had a negative reaction to positive psychology despite a sometimes unjustifiable optimism. The contrarian in me seeks the alternative path when the mainstream suggests we all get in line like sheep, think alike and go down the same road. As a psychologist, I saw positivism as my field’s attempt to reinvent a history of its dark obsession with abnormality forged by European pioneers.

Related to my life immersed in bullying and injured bullied targets, I see newcomers and nitwits give targets bad advice. Some invoke positive thinking. Feel good affirmations cannot pierce the shroud under which bullied, anxious, and depressed targets find themselves. Can they? Of course, being told to “get real,” and “just grow a thicker skin” are equally inane and ineffective admonitions. Where’s the middle ground?

I found the realistic alternative to positivism in the work of German psychologist and researcher Gabriele Oettingen who teaches at New York University. Here are citations from an essay she recently wrote for the New York Times and the lengthier statements from her university webpage. Her approach seems best suited to targets seeking ways to overcome their adversity foisted upon them involuntarily.

Mental Contrasting

“Mental contrasting” has produced powerful results in laboratory experiments. When participants have performed mental contrasting with reasonable, potentially attainable wishes, they have come away more energized and achieved better results compared with participants who either positively fantasized or dwelt on the obstacles.

When participants have performed mental contrasting with wishes that are not reasonable or attainable, they have disengaged more from these wishes. Mental contrasting spurs us on when it makes sense to pursue a wish, and lets us abandon wishes more readily when it doesn’t, so that we can go after other, more reasonable ambitions.

WBI: This approach seems to give permission to the person to let go of unattainable goals — e.g., convincing your employer to fire the bully — freeing the person to pursue wholeheartedly realistic goals — e.g., finding the next job, taking time off from work to heal or spending time with family and loved ones to repair strained relationships that matter more than work.

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Posted in Bullying-Related Research, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



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