Posts Tagged ‘Gary Namie’

Benicia to Bellingham to Boise — the WBI journey

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), which began as the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying in mid-1997, was born in the kitchen (a tad more comfortable than the garage) of our Benicia, California home. Benicia is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Ruth had been bullied in the region at a psychiatry clinic in the state’s largest HMO. With the help of volunteers, the scope of our ability to help bullied targets took over our living and dining rooms. Our initial presence on the web was at, then When Oprah called in 1998, we hustled to write our first book — BullyProof Yourself At Work. We published it ourselves and became way too intimate with giant rolls of bubble wrap and shipping envelopes. In 2000, the publisher Sourcebooks in Naperville, IL acquired an expanded version of that book. It became the book The Bully At Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job.

In 2000, the Georgetown Law Journal published the seminal legal article on workplace bullying by Suffolk Law Professor David Yamada. As an early WBI affiliate-friend-colleague, Yamada wrote draft legislation that we dubbed the Healthy Workplace Bill. It fell upon WBI to find ways to get the bill introduced in the states. California was the first to introduce it, in 2003, based on lobbying by WBI starting in 2001 when we were in California.

We left Benicia in 2001 to move to the great Pacific northwest, to Bellingham, Washington, a small town 18 miles south of the Canadian border. Dr. Gary returned to teaching university for two years (back to teaching youngsters and psychology again). There, he created and taught the first college course on bullying in the U.S. — Psychological Violence At Work. With lots of student help, the name WBI was adopted to reflect the expanded commitment to conducting research online. WBI was temporarily academic. After the stint ended, Gary returned to form, as a “recovering academic.”

The years in Bellingham were ones of continuous growth. Volunteers gave way to paid staff funded by speaking and consulting engagements. Calls from bullied targets came in monthly by the hundreds. Free advice was given to callers. Then, WBI hired a licensed counselor to offer fee-based coaching. Jessi still conducts coaching for those seeking her help. Between the Drs. Namie and staff, we have heard tales of bullying directly from over 10,000 individuals. No other entity can claim a comparable level of contact. Thus, we became the unrivaled experts in the bullied targets’ experiences.

In 2008, we designed the only comprehensive training for professionals in all aspects of the workplace bullying phenomenon — Workplace Bullying University®. Physicians, union officials, nurses, counselors, psychologists, attorneys, consultants, trainers and HR reps from around the world attend the quarterly sessions. We wrote the second edition of The Bully At Work in 2009.

On the research front, we conducted three national prevalence surveys that became the gold standard in the field. With help from talented staff, all websites were modernized, online surveys were conducted, and we developed products for the first time.

Free podcasts and webinars were produced. The WBI YouTube channel grew to over 200 videos.

For employers, we wrote a book to guide their internal steps to eliminate workplace bullying (The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels & Snakes from Killing Your Organization. Wiley, 2011)

Pseudo-academic endeavors included making presentations in research conferences in South Africa, Berlin, Adelaide, and across the U.S. We also were invited to write chapters in academic texts. We published a few peer-reviewed journal articles.

Over the years, WBI, without resources to market its services, relied on media attention. The tally of interviews by print, internet, TV and radio outlets now number over 1,200, making WBI the dominant go-to resource to educate the public about workplace bullying and its consequences for workers and employers.

In 2015, Gary was recognized as one of the most influential organizational psychologists alive today (#5). He is still alive and writing this.

WBI’s third era began the summer of 2015. The Drs. Namie moved to Boise, Idaho. Two WBI staff remain in Washington. Others left to pursue personal goals and we were sad to part.

WBI continues to train professionals at University sessions and to conduct research.

The one-stop resource for bullied individuals remains this WBI portal website. But without employers changing their practices, targets are doomed to fight uphill, fruitless battles costing them their livelihoods and health.

2015 marked a change in emphasis. It is time to bring American employers into the movement. They must voluntarily do something about the plague that eats into their profits and damages workers’ health. Thus we are now focusing on services for employers. Employers will certainly comply when a law addressing health-harming abusive workplace conduct is enacted. We await the day. Until then, actions employers take are necessarily voluntary.

The Healthy Workplace Bill has been introduced in 29 states and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two states mandate training in abusive conduct (California – for supervisors; Utah – for all state agency employees). The full bill has yet to become law, but a strong network of volunteer lobbyists for the HWB works tirelessly every year in over 30 states. WBI coordinates the State Coordinators.

Thank you for 18 glorious years of support. And thanks to the wonderful folks in Bellingham who got us this far. You remain in our hearts forever — Dave, Jessi, Daniel, David, Noelle, Carly, Noel, and the student volunteers.


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For Leaders: Consistency is First Step Toward Accountability

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

Consistency is First Step Toward Accountability: The Problem with Case-by-Case Approaches
By Gary Namie, PhD

One of the major complaints from bullied workers is the unfairness and inequity inherent in their employer’s approach to bullying complaints. As a group, bullied individuals are very sensitive to perceived injustices.

It is key to remember that if it is an American employer, there is no legal risk-avoidance reason to compel them to take complaints about bullying and abusive conduct seriously. If they treat complaints as legitimate and serious at all, it is because they choose to do so voluntarily.

When a sympathetic, well-intentioned employer does allow bullying complaints to be lodged, that openness is often followed by resolution attempts on a case-by-case basis (CBCB). Adopting CBCB sounds good but is plagued by unintentional consequences.

To employers, CBCB affords flexibility. It allows the investigator and decision maker to take into account mitigating circumstances. For instance, offenders can be forgiven if their misconduct is found to be based on following orders from a higher ranking manager. It also makes sense to be lenient in delivering negative consequences for first-time offenders. How could this be unfair?

From the perspective of rank-in-file employees the CBCB method is perceived much differently. From that view, in the first instance the given orders were unseen. Only the absence of punishment or changes was noticed. Therefore, the decision smacks of favoritism. And if the offender was a department head or director, then it appears the employer is protecting managers. Bullying is met with impunity.Leniency, too, looks like the employer decided to grant the bully wide latitude.

In both cases, employer flexibility feels like employer betrayal to workers.

This is a preventable error.

At WBI, we suggest dropping the CBCB approach. CBCB is the only alternative when no systematic policy-driven solution exists. Create the alternative. If employers truly want to hold accountable destructive workers, then create a policy or code of conduct in which you state unequivocally that abusive conduct is unacceptable.

More important, you must design enforcement procedures to make the policy a living document.

The procedures you create spell out exactly how complaints alleging violations of the policy or code will be handled. Employer responsiveness is key. Regarding the topic of this column — accountability for violations — your enforcement procedures must clearly dictate consistency. This is done by explicitly stating that all procedural steps — investigations, interviews, timelines, notifications of outcomes, and remedies — apply to ALL employees at ALL levels. The antithesis of CBCB is a consistent application of the rules.

If you, the employer, want engaged loyal employees, then substitute a policy and faithful enforcement procedures (governing rules) for old CBCB, make-it-up-on-the-fly, methods of dealing with bullying. Your reputation with your employees depends on it.


Gary Namie is co-author of The Bully-Free Workplace (Wiley, 2011) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.


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Next Workplace Bullying University dates set

Friday, September 25th, 2015

November 13-14-15
In Boise, Idaho
Workplace Bullying University® Training for Professionals

The only intensive, research-driven, comprehensive seminar in all aspects of the Workplace Bullying phenomenon in the world. Created in 2008 by the Drs. Namie, founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute. Three days of exceptional learning, an entirely unique experience.

For Leaders, Nurses, Physicians, Union advocates, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Consultants, Trainers, HR

For a limited time, we offer an unprecedented tuition discount.

Read all the program details and testimonials at the Workplace Bullying University® website.


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The very real link between workplace bullying and suicide: Twice as likely to contemplate suicide

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

At WBI, Dr. Ruth, I and several of the staff have listened to long-winded tales of misery endured at the hands of workplace bullies for many years. It amazes us that as many people survive the process as they do. It’s a testament to human resilience.

Suicide is the abandonment of hope, of not seeing any future, of not perceiving alternatives. It happens. How often it is the choice of bullied workers is not known. The international pioneer of the movement, Heinz Leymann, wrote in the early 1990’s that about 10% of those bullied do take their lives. It was his educated guess.

Now comes an important study from our Norwegian friends at the Bergen Bullying Research Group led by Stale Einarsen. The principal author of the study published Sept. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health is Morten Birkeland Nielsen.

The subtitle of the article is “A 3-Wave Longitudinal Norwegian Study.” The key contribution made by the study is that it measured the same group of people during three different time periods. Its longitudinal approach clarifies the sequence of events. It was a test to determine which caused which — bullying at work or considering suicide (the academics and clinicians call it suicidal ideation). The one that preceded the other can be considered a cause of the second.

The study overcame a problem common to all cross-sectional studies (in which different groups of people are measured only once) — the question of correlation between factors. That is, if we ran a study here at the WBI website of bullied individuals and asked two questions — have you been bullied and have you considered suicide — and the two scores were highly correlated, we still could not say with certainty that bullying caused people to consider suicide. The Nielsen, et al., study solved that problem with its unique tracking of a single group over time — in 2005, 2007 and again in 2010. In wave 1, 2,539 (our of 4500 solicited from a national random sample) returned the researchers’ surveys. By 2010, the sample was still at 1,291 individuals — the final group with three measurements.



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Workplace Bullying May Increase Risk of Suicidal Thoughts

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Workplace Bullying May Increase Risk of Suicidal Thoughts
By Lisa Rapaport, Reuters News Service, Sept. 17, 2015

(Reuters Health) – Workers who are victims of bullying on the job may become more likely to contemplate suicide than people who don’t experience a hostile office environment, a Norwegian study suggests.

Researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of roughly 1850 workers and followed them from 2005 to 2010. While less than five percent of participants reported thoughts of suicide during the study period, they were about twice as likely to do so after being victims of workplace bullying.

“Our study adds to the understanding of how bullying is related to thoughts about suicide by showing that the perception of being bullied at work actually is a precursor of suicidal ideation and not a consequence,” said lead study author Morten Birkeland Nielsen of the National Institute of Occupational Health and the University of Bergen.

At least 800,000 people worldwide take their own lives each year, making suicide a leading cause of death, Nielsen and colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Although psychiatric disorders are involved in the majority of suicide attempts, most people with mental health disorders don’t take their own lives, the researchers note.



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Gary Namie on KFI-AM, Los Angeles with Bill Carroll

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

On July 27, WBI Director joined radio talk show host Bill Carroll on KFI-AM, Los Angeles heard throughout Southern California.


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Next WB University Training for Professionals Announced

Monday, June 29th, 2015

August 7-8-9 are the dates for the next public WBI Workplace Bullying University® Training for Professionals. The location is Boise, Idaho.

Since 2008, the Drs. Namie have delivered the only comprehensive research-driven training covering all aspects of the workplace bullying phenomenon. They are the pioneers and you can learn directly from them. Passed and pending legislation is part of their work. Graduates will understand the nuances of applicable laws.

This interactive, intensive 3-day session is life-changing.

It will enable professionals to add abusive conduct to their list of specializations with the take-home lessons learned.

Professionals who have attended past sessions:

– Attorneys
– Union officials
– Nurses
– Counselors/psychotherapists
– Academics
– HR professionals
– Physicians
– School bullying trainers
– Consultants to organizations
– Corporate trainers
– Former targets turned entrepreneurs

Tuition has been reduced and a deeper discount applies if registration is completed by June 30. Call today for — 360-656-6630. Visit the Workplace Bullying University website for program and registration details and testimonials from graduates.


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Essence: How to handle an office bully

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

How to Handle An Office Bully

By Arlene Dawson, Essence Magazine, June 2015

When brainy go-getter Nicole*, 28, accepted a position at a trendy beauty start-up in New York City, she thought it was her dream job. “The company promoted itself as being progressive,” says Nicole. But her work situation devolved quickly and became more Mean Girls than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Early on, when Nicole wasn’t dancing at a company party, a White coworker said to her, “You’re Black. We hired you because you could dance.” Other colleagues laughed. “I always thought that if this type of thing happened I would come back with a response, but I went to the bathroom and cried,” Nicole recalls. “I had never experienced those types of comments—racism—so blatantly in a work setting before.”

Nicole reported the incident to her immediate boss and her complaint got laddered up to the CEO. Although her superiors feigned remorse, she says, “That was the beginning of the end for me in the company.” The bully got promoted, found out Nicole “told on her” and escalated the bullying. During staff meetings, Nicole says her ideas were met with coldness; the bully rallied other coworkers not to associate with her; and more negative remarks—this time about Nicole’s naturally curly hair and clothing—ensued.

Even management turned sour, setting her up for failure by assigning impossible, vague projects. And despite Nicole’s management of million-dollar accounts, she recalls work review meetings being filled with nitpicky, unfounded accusations. “They were systematically trying to push me out without actually firing me,” says Nicole.



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Vermont enters the race to pass first complete anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

For some reason, Vermont lawmakers sponsoring a paid sick leave bill appropriated our the WBI bill name – Healthy Workplace Bill – in 2015. We support paid sick leave, but care most about ending health-harming abuse in the workplace.

Now comes Vermont Senate bill S 143 –An act relating to protecting employees from abuse at work. WBI thanks sponsor Sen. Anthony Pollina. Tenacious Vermont State Coordinator, Sherrill Gilbert, has worked for several sessions to have the HWB not only introduced but heard in committee. Despite the formation of a task force in past years, the historically progressive state has failed to take definitive action against this scourge.

The bill has been referred to a Senate committee on which a former sponsor sits. We await scheduling of a public hearing at which Vermonters can testify about the need for a state law.

In 2015, VT S 143 is the 9th bill to be introduced across the states. Vermont joins Texas, New York, Massachusetts and Minnesota with complete versions (with employer liability) of the Healthy Workplace Bill.

Details of the bill can be found at the VT State Page of the Healthy Workplace Bill website.


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Another name for societal reaction to workplace bullying: Stockholm bias

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Stockholm Bias: It’s Not Quite Stockholm Syndrome, But It Affects All of Us
By Eyal Winter, em>Forbes, April 8, 2015

Winter is Professor of Economics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

My father, Hans Winter, was a Jewish kid in pre-Nazi Germany who ran for his life to Palestine a year after Hitler took power. Until his last day, he considered the word Nazi to be synonymous with ultimate evil, yet when I asked him about his schoolteachers during that period he would be overcome with nostalgia and romanticism. When pressed, he would admit that most of his teachers supported the Nazi party, and would even describe the parades they organized and the Nazi songs he was forced to sing along with the rest of the class, even before Hitler took power. When noticing my astonishment, he often argued, “Yes, they were Nazis, but they treated me well.” My father was not comfortable talking about it, and he appeared quite embarrassed as he wiped the small tear that ran slowly down his cheek. I believe he was affected by what I call Stockholm bias, a mild version of the better-known Stockholm syndrome.
On August 23, 1973, a group of burglars entered and commandeered a Kreditbanken bank branch in Norrmalmstorg Square in Stockholm. Over the next five days, several bank employees were held hostage in a vault by the burglars, who eventually surrendered to the authorities. What happened next was very peculiar. Most of the bank employees who had undergone the nightmare of captivity expressed support and sympathy for the hostage takers in press interviews. Some even offered to serve as character witnesses for the defense in the subsequent trial. The event prompted psychologists and psychiatrists to identify a new psychological phenomenon they called Stockholm syndrome.



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