Archive for the ‘WBI Surveys & Studies’ Category


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.
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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?
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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)

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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?

View Results

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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
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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.

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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

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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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Stupid state lawmakers deliberately distort science

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

“Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.”
Mark Twain

I’m starting to sound like my father and can’t believe I question nearly every day “what is this world coming to?” Near the top of my “it’s all going to hell” list is America’s turning its back on science — unabashedly, proudly, defiantly — through legislation.

In the UK, the BBC has banned from their airwaves crackpot guests preaching that climate change is not real. The change is to bolster scientific integrity. Staff will receive training in science and scientific conferences will be attended by staff to stay abreast of developments.

Deniers get equivalence here in the US. One denier with one believer (proxy by Bill Nye, the “Science Guy”). Viewers ignorant of the facts could conclude that climate change is not really something to be concerned about. The fallacy of this false equivalence was never more clear than this demonstration by comedian John Oliver on his HBO show This Week Tonight.

And recently the British government extended its public school ban on teaching pseudoscience, creationism, to cover “academies” and “free schools,” the equivalent of charter schools in the States. The government recognizes the religious bases of the founders of such schools. Thus creationism promotes religion and has no business in the teaching of science.

America is headed in the other direction, driving headfirst into ignorance. Creationists and advocates for “intelligent design” in the US seem to be gaining clout. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) 2014 legislative scorecard identified states that are attempting to make their children science illiterates.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), The New America, WBI Surveys & Studies | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Workplace Bullying: Causal Factors in the U.S.

Monday, July 21st, 2014

CAUSAL FACTORS in 2014

Two questions explored with varying levels of accuracy the public explanation for why bullying happens.

In the better of the two Survey items, we asked respondents to choose one primary factor or reason for the bullying.

Question: Which one factor is most responsible for abusive mistreatment at work?

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