Archive for the ‘WBI Surveys & Studies’ Category


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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New WBI Instant Poll: Your Stage of Targethood

Monday, October 27th, 2014

At what stage of being bullied at work do you find yourself today? Choose up to 3.

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About the bully’s intent to harm

Friday, October 17th, 2014

I hate talking points (propaganda) for American-style capitalism. For example, some of the most loathsome soundbites are: All hail entrepreneurship (Shark Tank); Everyone can live the American Dream if they only try hard enough; Ignore gross inequality – having a tiny elite group of individuals owning a disproportionate share of all wealth is good for the country; and Support for our neediest (compassion) is a sign of weakness.

By extension, this mindset also espouses these lies about workplace bullying … People who claim to to be “abused” at work must have provoked their mistreatment … they (targets) undermine virtuous employers … and if, and only if, someone gets hurt at work, perpetrators never intended to harm, it was all a misunderstanding or misperception by the recipient.

The WBI 2014 IP-B study countered the myth about intentionality of bullies completely. We asked bullied targets — not the public, not managers, not bullies, not HR, not owners, not executives, not corporate defenders — and they overwhelmingly stated that their bullies acted with deliberateness (82%) and knew they were harming their victims. When we add in the perpetrators acting on behalf of others, an astonishing 91% were deliberate and malicious. Only 2% of bullies were “accidental” perpetrators.

To conclude that if targets are hurt by bullying, their hypersensitivity was to blame, is a damnable distortion of reality.

What matters most is that bullied targets are hurt by decisions made by perpetrators to behave negatively. Lies about bullies’ stated intent matter not one whit. Effects and consequences trump intent. [Using the same logic, we at WBI also state that bullying is not simply based on whether or not negative behaviors occurred but if those acts happened AND they caused the targeted person adverse consequences. We allow for behaviors to have different effects on different recipients allowing for individual differences in the ability to cope and respond to negative actions. If there is genuinely no harm (immediate or latent) to the target, then bullying did not occur.]

Another arena in which the same blame-the-recipient scenario pops up is the modern political apology. Rather than say “I’m sorry,” thus accepting personal responsibility, politicos say “I’m sorry if you felt hurt by anything I did,” displacing blame on the victim of wrongdoing. And we blithely, through our inept media reporters, accept this sleight of hand by not challenging it.

Lawyer-cartoonist Ruben Bolling perfectly captured the shifting of responsibility for intentionality in the strip below — The “R” Word — with NFL overtones.
(more…)

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WBI Survey: Reversing Emotional Abuse

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

REVERSING EMOTIONAL ABUSE
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – D

WBI credits friend and researcher Loraleigh Keashly for coining the term Emotional Abuse at Work as synonym for workplace bullying. Her 1998 review of the then-current scientific literature was aptly titled. Bullying always impacts the targeted person’s emotional state. The effect is always negative, not positive. In most cases, individuals are either happy or emotionally neutral at work, content to do their jobs. Bullying comes unannounced and uninvited. It compels immediate attention. All of one’s cognitive resources are deployed to cope with the psychological assault.

In worst cases, there is trauma that must be dealt with. In all cases, the target is stigmatized and social relations with coworkers strained. At the very least, the onset of bullying is a sad event. The once neutral or happy person is forced into negativity. At the outset, attempts to think “happy, positive thoughts” are overwhelmed by the negative reality imposed by the abuser.

Bullying triggers distress, the human stress response in reaction to the bully’s tactics, the stressors. If left unabated, prolonged distress leads to stress-related diseases, all sorts of health complications.

The most effective stress mitigation factor is social support. Validating human support can reverse the deleterious effects of emotional abuse. Isolation exacerbates the distress. Sometimes learning about the first-time experience can alleviate distress. After all, bullying is rather ambiguous when first experienced.

WBI research (WBI IP 2013-H) found that for 33% of bullied targets, their bullying at work was the first abuse ever experienced in their lives. Those people will take the longest to recognize Only 19% were bullied in school; they may or may not recognize the bullying happening to them at work because they might have expected bullying to have ended with school ending. Sadly, 44% of targets have a prior history with abuse from family experiences. Prior history alone does not guarantee instant recognition and labeling of the emotional abuse happening to them, but their visceral reactions become cues to recognition. They have “been there before” with respect to the emotional negativity; they have known fear, apprehension and anxiety.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

For this survey, we asked 820 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to describe sources of positivity for bullied targets shrouded in negative emotions.

Question: As a bullied target, who made you feel better, changed your negative emotions to positive or at least less negative?
(more…)

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WBI Survey: The Many Ways Workplace Bullying Offends Its Targets

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

THE MANY WAYS WORKPLACE BULLYING OFFENDS ITS TARGETS
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – C

At WBI we teach extensively about the health risks of bullying for its victims, the bullied targets. Health risks are documented in the extant research literature and in the collection of prior WBI studies. We have also explored perceived injustices associated with bullying.

Harassment is considered “offensive” mistreatment. Offensiveness is subjective. What offends one person might not adversely affect others. However, when people are hurt, upset or angry over the behaviors by another person specifically directed at them, they have the right to claim to be offended.

At the very least, bullying is offensive. It is also demeaning, ostracizing, disempowering, cruel, threatening, humiliating, untruthful, and unrelated to work itself.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

For this survey, we asked 1,031 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to describe the five most offensive aspects of the bullying experience.

Question: As a bullied target, what aspect of the bullying offended you the most? Check the top 5.

There were a total of 4,588 choices made by the 1,031 respondents. The top 6 from the list of 17 choices appears in the graph. We plotted the actual number of respondents who chose each item. The proportions based on the 1,031 respondents are shown in parentheses. Though respondents were allowed up to five choices, numbers 5 and 6 were virtually tied in rank, so both are shown.

Being accused of incompetence when I possessed more technical skills than my accuser 580 (.568)
Being humiliated in front of coworkers 493 (.483)
Feeling ashamed though I did nothing wrong 432 (.423)
Management ignoring my complaint 426 (.417)
Having coworkers ostracize, exclude & reject me 370 (.362)
Retaliation that followed my complaint 368 (.360)

(more…)

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New WBI Instant Poll: Training by employers

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

What training or education does (did) your employer provide related to workplace bullying?

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WBI Survey: Intentions of Workplace Bullies

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

INTENTIONS OF WORKPLACE BULLIES
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – B

There has long been a debate about intentionality of perpetrators’ action in workplace bullying. Were the tactics committed deliberately? In the earliest WBI definition of bullying, we included “deliberate.” But as our legal education progressed and we began to lobby lawmakers to introduce our anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill, we learned that the law did not require the discovery of motive if the action happens. That is, the wrongdoing — bullying acts — was evidence of intent. No one has to divine the hidden goals of perpetrators. If they committed the act, they meant to.

Nevertheless bully apologists —bloggers and reporters for business media — like to state that most bullying is unintentional. We certainly allowed for “accidental” or inadvertent bullying in our book, The Bully At Work (Sourcebooks, 2009). However, we now believe that it is very rare, not common like the apologist believe.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

For this survey, we asked 817 respondents (bullied targets and witnesses) to describe the intentions of perpetrators they have experienced.

Of the workplace perpetrators of bullying I’ve known, they?

The percentages for each response option were:

.821 acted with the deliberate personal intention to harm others

.086 harmed others but were not aware of the consequences

.078 followed instructions of superiors in ways that hurt others

.015 never meant to harm others; were misunderstood
(more…)

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WBI Survey: Personal Attributes of Bullied Targets at Work

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES OF BULLIED TARGETS AT WORK
WBI Research/Instant Poll: 2014 – A

Since the start of WBI, we have been conversing with bullied targets who telephone us for advice. Over 10,000 targets have taught us their world from the inside. Previously WBI identified in an online study (WBI, 2003) a set of personal attributes that targets themselves said was the reason they were bullied. That list included being independent, possessing more technical skill than their bully, being liked by peers, an ethicality and honesty the bully did not have and being apolitical — not willing or able to play the game of organizational politics.

Some academic researchers, especially those in business schools who tend to adopt management as their referential lens through which they interpret bullying, investigate factors such as “victim precipitation” or the “provocative victim.” In other words, attributes of targets are seen as causal; it’s a way to blame targets for their fate. It implies that a rational person, when confronted with such provocateurs, would engage in anti-social actions against them because they somehow “deserved it.”

Clearly, no one deserves to be abused and suffer the type of health harm bullying generates. On this all good people should be able to agree.

WBI Instant Polls are online single-question surveys that rely upon self-selected samples of individuals bullied at work (typically 98% of any sample). No demographic data are collected. Our non-scientific Instant Polls accurately depict the perceptions of workers targeted for bullying at work as contrasted with the views of all adult Americans in our scientific national surveys.

(more…)

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Please Take Our New Survey!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

It is common for the media, who have previous ignored workplace bullying, to proclaim that no law is needed because employers are voluntarily providing adequate solutions. We question the veracity of that claim and designed a survey to address it.

Please take a minute to answer a few questions about your experience with workplace bullying and what your employer did.





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Workplace Bullying: About U.S. Bullied Targets

Monday, July 28th, 2014


ABOUT BULLIED TARGETS in 2014

Finally, we asked the American public what type of person is targeted for abusive mistreatment in the workplace. Though this was a short, not exhaustive, list of personality traits, the results are clear. Those who claimed to have been aware that workplace bullying happens, believe that the overwhelming majority of individuals targeted possess positive attributes.

That is, the same respondents who believed that targets are mostly incapable of defending themselves against bullying assaults believe targets are kind, cooperative and agreeable. Perhaps these same traits render the guileless person vulnerable to unpredictable attacks. This Survey does not provide a way to draw the causal link between the traits and targets’ ability to defend themselves.

It is noteworthy that only 6% of targets are considered abusers themselves.

Question: Which personal style best describes the targeted person?

Download the About Bullied Targets mini-Report

###

Gary Namie, PhD, Research Director
Research Assistants: Daniel Christensen & David Phillips

© 2014, Workplace Bullying Institute, All Rights Reserved

Download the complete Report | Access individual sections of the Report

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