Workplace Violence and Bullying at Work

Workplace Violence and Bullying at Work Overview

In some of the first work to come out of the UK on workplace bullying, Andrea Adams suggested that workplace bullying should be differentiated from workplace bossiness. Bossiness can definitely be seen as being aggressive but most people will quickly learn how to deal with it without lasting negative effects.

For someone to be bossy can even be necessary in order to ensure that people are on time and do their work; a boss sometimes has to be bossy as that is part of their job. Bossiness turns into bullying when there is a personal aspect of spitefulness involved. (Lee, 2002).

In 1997, Raynor and Hoel grouped workplace bullying behaviour into 5 types; threat to personal status such as questioning work competency, threat to personal standing such as name calling, isolation such as withholding information, overwork such as impossible deadlines, and destabilization such as setting someone up to fail. Others have identified that relational as well as indirect bullying, such as rumor spreading, should be also be considered.

These two types of bullying are harder to report and also harder for others to believe actually happened. It can be hard to draw the line between bullying and harassment of a sexual or racial nature. Some researchers believe they are related but research mainly focuses on bullying of an interpersonal nature as opposed to gender or race. It also hard to identify how frequent harassment has to be experienced before it is considered bullying, as it was originally thought that true bullying must be experienced repeatedly.

Some researchers believe that a single event is enough to be considered bullying while others quantify how many behaviours occurred during the past six months before calling it bullying. (Cowie, Naylor, Rivers, Smith, & Pereira, 2002).


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