As I have been out presenting on workplace bullying, there is one issue
that I continue to struggle with. Do I admit to having been a receiver
of workplace bullying or not? I have consulted with other professionals
who have advised against this. Their reasoning being that it might take
away from my expertise and credibility on workplace bullying. It seems
hypocritical to me if I am unwilling to acknowledge this, but openly
identifying has negatively impacted my workshop evaluations. Of course,
this got me thinking. Why does one’s credibility change when we find out someone has or is a receiver of workplace bullying?
One reason is the general attitudes held about victims of abuse. We have a victim-blaming mentality
about those who have experienced any type of violence including workplace bullying. We have a tendency in this society to hold the victim responsible for the abuse rather than the aggressor.
have either done something they should not have or failed somehow as a
professional They put themselves in the position to be bullied. Many
think receivers have personality flaws or lack professional behavior
which also cause them to be targeted. Either way, receivers
deserve what is happening to them. As such, receivers are not seen as
credible because their behavior, personality, or actions are the reasons
they are being bullied.
Many equate workplace bullying with schoolyard bullying. Workplace
bullying is viewed as a children’s issue and not something that impacts
adults. This assumption does not take into consideration the complex
nature of workplace aggression. Rather, we assume that adults can
manage, stop, and prevent workplace bullying. Adults
who are not able to stop bullying are unskilled, weak, and not
reliable. There is something wrong with adult workers who are unable to
stop workplace bullying. We again, view receivers of bullying through a
lens that distorts the truth and blames the victim for the problem.
still have quite a few misguided assumptions about workplace receivers
which impact how we view professionals who have experienced it
beliefs cause us to judge and view receivers in a negative light, as
unprofessional, and as not credible. The violence that receivers
experience is one again not recognized. Like many others, receivers are
forced to bear the scars from workplace bullying in silence because if
they openly disclose, they are likely to once again be re-victimized. We
need to start holding the aggressors of workplace bullying responsible
for their behavior and remember it is their credibility that is the
Don’t forget to check out my survival guide
which is a helpful resource that identifies effective strategies for
receivers of workplace bullying. If you or your organization is
experiencing persistent workplace aggression, contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 309-2360.