Information on Workplace Bullying
Katrin Becker
Last update: Thursday, March 17, 2005 04:33 PM Email:
Workplace Bullying (sometimes referred to as psychological harassment ) has been said to be responsible for more lost productivity in the workplace than any other cause. Surprised?

Many are familiar with childhood bullying, and Barbara Coloroso has written an excellent book on the subject: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander From Pre-School to High School - How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence

"It’s the deadliest combination going: bullies who get what they want from their target, bullied kids who are afraid to tell, bystanders who either watch, participate, or look away, and adults who see the incidents as simply 'teasing' and a normal part of childhood. Discussing her new book, the bully, the bullied, and the bystander, Barbara Coloroso gives parents, caregivers, educators and most of all, kids the tools to break this cycle of violence."

While the behaviour is certainly not new, the acknowledgement that very similar issues are present in many workplaces is relatively new. With courage and a willingness to talk openly about these issues, we can address this problem and ultimately become enlightened, just as we are becoming enlightened about racism, sexism, and other 'isms' that ultimately interfere with our ability to leave this world in a better state than we found it

An Academic (and generally bureaucratic) Tale........
...and a common trigger prompting bullies to spring into action....
"But he has nothing on!" cried a little child.

"The child tells the truth," said its father quietly.

And the people began to whisper to one another what the child had said. "He has nothing on! A child says he has nothing on!"
Soon all the people were saying aloud, "But he has nothing on!"

And the Emperor, hearing what they said, shivered, for he knew that their words were true. But it would never do to stop the procession; and so he held himself stiffer than ever. And behind him, his officers held their heads higher than ever, and took greater pains to pretend to carry the Emporer's train, which was not there at all.
University of Calgary Ethical Policies:
Rights, Responsibilities, Services and Resources

Statement on Principles of Conduct

Code of Professional Ethics

Resources on Workplace Bullying:
U of Calgary CTED course on workplace bullying:
Quebec Legislation against Psychological Harassment []
ARE YOU BEING BULLIED AT THE WORKPLACE? (also called mobbing (Professor Heinz Leymann), psychological terror, pack mentality, general harassment)[]
No Bully For Me 'adding insight to injury' the anti workplace bullying group based in Vancouver, B.C., Canada[]
Canadian Initiative on Workplace Violence (CIWV) []
Discussing the undiscussable: A workbook for improving group effectiveness and openness, Bob Dick and Tim Dalmau []
Canada Safety Council: Bullying in the Workplace []
WORKPLACE MOBBING IN ACADEME, Kenneth Westhues, Professor of Sociology, University of Waterloo, Canada []
P. McCarthy*, M. Sheehan and M. Barker, Ethical investment and workplace bullying: consonances and dissonances, Int. J. Management and Decision Making, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2003 []
Book: The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job by Gary Namie Ph.D., ISBN: 1570715343
Book: The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense at Work by Suzette Haden Elgin ISBN: 0735200890
Harvey, J. (2002, Nov). Stereotypes and moral oversight in conflict resolution: What are we teaching? Journal of Philosophy of Education, 36(4), 513-528.
Brunner, P. W., & Costello, M. L. (2003, Spg). When the wrong woman wins: Building bullies and perpetuating patriarch. Advancing Women in Leadership. Available from
Harvey (2002) explained that bullies are usually difficult to spot because they often display an exaggerated degree of apparent respect to those in authority above them, therefore building up credit in the institutional leadership memory banks. But, Harvey advised, 'It is a naïve overgeneralization for those with status and power in an organization to assume that everyone who treats them with apparent respect treats everyone including the most vulnerable, with the same kind of respect' (p. 525). Harvey warned against giving a bully an opportunity to behave appropriately; the dynamics of workplace bullying are unique, and traditional methods such as mediation are not effective, and may, in fact further traumatize the target. Bullying cannot be handled in a morally neutral manner through arbitration.
Some Information on Workplace Bullying:
Bullying is of a predatory nature, or even may be dispute-related in some cases, but as Namie (2003) was quick to point out, it should never be brushed off as a personality clash because:
  • Targets endure bullying for almost two years before filing a complaint
  • Targets have a seventy percent chance of losing their jobs
  • Seventeen percent of targets have to transfer to other jobs
  • Only thirteen percent of bullies are ever punished or terminated
  • Seventy-one percent of bullies outrank their targets
  • Bullying is three times more prevalent than sexual harassment
  • Bullying is often invisible and occurs behind closed doors without witnesses
  • Even when bullying is witnessed, team members usually side with the bully
  • As many as ten percent of suicides may be related to workplace traumatization

Nationwide statistics on workplace bullying indicate (Brunner & Costello, 2003, and Namie, 2003):
  • Eighty-one percent of bullies are in supervisory roles
  • Fifty-eight percent of bullies are female (Namie)
  • Eighty-four percent of bullied employees are female
  • Twenty-one percent of all workers have been targeted by bullies

Reasons targets are bullied (Namie & Namie, 2000):
  • Fifty-eight percent are targeted because they stand up to unfair treatment by the bully
  • Fifty-six percent are mobbed because the bully envies the target's level of competence
  • Forty-nine percent are targeted simply because they are nice people
  • Forty-six percent are bullied because they are ethical
  • Thirty-nine percent are bullied because it was just their turn
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Copyright (C) 2005 Katrin Becker March 17, 2005 04:33 PM