A Nuisance Called Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is a universal phenomenon and occurs due to fear not respect. It is an unavoidable aspect, an outcome of one’s negativity and needs to be tackled wisely. It is purely an inception of human behavior which cannot be enforced as it is by one’s own choice. It can come from the superior in the form of increased workload, late sittings, passing information top – down only, expressing their aggression on others, Peer(s) gossiping about other’s life, passing comments, demotivating people from improving / working on their weak area and laughing on others imperfection.

The ideology behind it is to make everyone think highly about the bully. Bullies are people who are themselves victims of life, such as:

Case1: Middle level manager being informed by the management about his team’s performance that the delivery output is not satisfactory – in return the manager targeting the soft spoken person in the team by offloading his aggression.

Case2: An employee who is not academically qualified for the assigned profile but manages well through good networking with his peers and manager. His nature gets transformed from being understanding to bullying upon the entry of a new employee who is young and possesses the skills as per profile requirement.

Many such more scenarios can lead to workplace bullying.


Universally there is no prescribed formal definition of ‘Workplace Bullying’ . However, based on  understanding  from the environment, it is a type of personality trait which is negative in nature and is being practiced socially. It is a trait which is an outcome of one’s own aggression that tends to hurt people by making them feel low about themselves.

Characterized by:

Normally it is repetitive in nature and there is no time duration for its existence wherein the target doesn’t confront the abuser.

Characterized Relationships:

Workplace bullying is not restricted to specific level, age, gender. It occurs in the following forms:

  1. Superior – Subordinate
  2. Among co-peers
  3. Employer – Customers
  4. Organizational System – Employee

It has different forms such as:

  1.      Groupism – Group of people victimizing one employee or a group of people
  2.      Habitual – A person habituated to bully others and get away with it.
  3.      With Aggression – Superiors offload their aggression on subordinates
  4.      Verbal-  peer(s) trying to take hold of other’s life by interfering in how to  behave and what to say.
  5.      Physical –  Jokingly punching a peer.
  6.      Virtual – Usually done to justify the reason for not doing the work within the stipulated time frame.
  7.      Systematic Procedures–Organization assigning employees’with unrealistic targets.
  8.      Gossiping – Tittle-Tattle to malign someone’s image out of anger / jealousy.
  9.      Kiss Up,Kick down-It is a neologism where the middle level people are polite and nice to the management and not with the lower level.

Reason of its existence: Its existence purely depends on the personality traits of people who play with others’ mind flow to harm / trouble them.

Traits could be:

  1. Superiority Complex
  2. Impulsive nature
  3. Egotism
  4. Silent Spectators
  5. Company Strategy
  6. Manager Informant

a) Superiority Complex: “A superiority complex is a cover up for an inferiority complex.” – Alfred Adler..Workplace bullying is a baby of human mind which is born to overcome one’s inferiority and is something that cannot be taught. It is a type of personality trait which occurs out of fear to be last in the ‘herd of sheep’, with the entry of new entrants, for career progression, jealousy with peers etc.

b) Impulsive nature – A person not able to handle his / her temperament,spontaneously discharges it on subordinates or peers.

c) Egotism – Self centered people tend to move things / people as per their thought process.

d) Silent Spectators – People who don’t victimize others but support the abusers by being silent to save oneself from becoming a victim of workplace bullying.

e)Company Strategy – Company’s act to adapt change as per market trend resulting in delay pay, cut-off in bonus and downsizing.

f) Manager Informant – In order to be in the good books of the manager, people pass information about others -even casual talks. This shows people are not being sensitive towards each other.


Workplace bullying does not only impact an individual or the organization but its effect is overall, which is not a good sign for the growth of the organization.

  1. Bullying in the system affects people’s productivity which distresses the organizations throughput.
  2.  Culture of the organization also gets affected resulting in bitterness making the system unhealthy.
  3. Deviations in the committed timelines.
  4. Affects the learning curve of employee.
  5. Rise in attrition rate.
  6. Additional cost incurred on hiring & training the new entrants.
  7. Stress which leads to depression and in the worst scenario to suicide.
  8. Claim for health insurances
  9. Rise in Absenteeism
  10. Impact on work -qualitative as well as quantitative.
  11. Interpersonal communications
  12. Anxiety
  13. Self – confidence
  14. Trust

Measures: An organization needs to be strong with the in house policies as the weaker authority thrives on such activity in the system. People are the biggest asset for any organization so the priority needs to be on people connect. However,the following measures will help in controlling workplace bullying:

  1. Understand workplace bullying.
  2. Take action by saying ‘stop’ to the bully.
  3. In severe scenarios, discuss it with the manager / HR.
  4. Implement zero- tolerance- for-bullying policy in the organization.
  5. Organization to focus on team building.
  6. Superiors to observe, understand and hear from the horse’s mouth then call for action rather being weak of ears.
  7. Design ‘People Project Advocate ’program to channelize the idle time and energy of the employees.
  8. Be courageous to become witness.
  9. Strong connect to be developed between Management – HR – People.

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