What is workplace bullying? Is it different from school bullying?

Bullying is a common occurrence at workplaces too. But why does it occur? Let's find out.

Lalithashree Ganesh

We’ve all faced bullying or heard of it at some point in our lives. We’ve seen or heard of a bully at school, college, university, in the playground, in the street, at work, or even in social gatherings. Bullies are everywhere.

Often, it so happens that one may find it difficult to recognise that they are being bullied, and even more difficult to figure out how they can deal with it, especially if the bullying is experienced at one’s workplace.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, Workplace Bullying is the “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators.”


What do bullies do?
Specifically, bullies are abusive in their behavior. This could range from verbal abuse to interference in one’s work, humiliation, posing threats, intimidating a person, or preventing them from completing their work.

So, why do people bully others at the workplace?

While we know that it is an extremely common occurrence, workplace bullying is when the perpetrator feels the need to control the targeted person. They choose who, when, where to target and how they want to bully them. The bullying comprises doing things to others or withholding resources from others, and has repercussions for the person targeted. It can also reach a point where others get involved by taking the bully’s side. This could be either by choice or by force. The bully can also make it all about their personal agenda instead of the work itself. It is a lot like domestic violence.
 

School bullying vs workplace bullying: What’s the difference?
The underlying principles of bullying that occurs in schools and workplaces is the same. Yet, there are a few similarities as well as distinct differences.

Similarities:
Bullies at schools as well as workplaces show a desperate need for control, and humiliate the person being targeted. At school, if they are cheered by kids, fearful teachers, or administrators who ignore them, they grow up to become dominating people.
 

Differences:
At workplaces, bullies disrespect other’s needs, face a threatened livelihood, have an untracked career, with their time and money at risk. They also suffer from a loss of independence when a spouse or others intervene to find a solution for them.

It is also important to keep in mind the fact that men bully differently than women do. When men bully, it is much more obvious and noticeable. But when women bully, it is much more subtle and not so visible to anyone.


With inputs from Maullika Sharma, director, Workplace Options. 

Reference: http://www.workplacebullying.org/bullying-contrasted/