Spry: Executive functioning

Acts or comments that hurt or isolate a person from belonging or from feeling safe. Sometimes it can involve negative physical contact but at work…

What is Executive Functioning?

It’s about acts or comments that hurt or isolate a person from belonging or from feeling safe.

Sometimes it can involve negative physical contact but at work this is more rare than verbal bullying.

Bullying involves a pattern of behaviour that offends, degrades or humiliates someone or a group of people.

It is about dominance, power and aggression rather than solution-seeking.

What-else about bullying: It…

  • Uses fear and shame to reduce the receiver’s confidence and well-being.
  • Minimises and downplays the recipient’s experiences “that’s not what I meant” or “you’re being hysterical!”.
  • It happens in a context of “I-it”; the receiver is objectified (made into “it”) in service of the aggressor’s needs.
  • Involves primitive, animalistic behaviour.
  • Plunges the recipient into survival mode. 
  • Is primal and it rips away firm ground.
  • Attacks the receiver’s personal vulnerabilities: fears of isolation or exclusion, or maybe a fragile sense of ability.

So what?…

What are the consequences for the individual?

  • Anxiety
  • Higher Blood Pressure
  • Panic Attacks
  • Stress
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Ulcers
  • Reduced Creativity
  • Loss of Life-force
  • An Incapacity to Work or Concentrate
  • Lowered Self-esteem
  • Trouble Making Decisions
  • Loss of Focus
  • Loss of hope
  • Time & Energy is Wasted Defending Themselves
  • Energy Spent Avoiding the Bully
  • Time Spent Looking for Support
  • Ruminating About the Situation
  • Planning how to Deal with the Situation

So what?…

Consequences for the team and the business.

  • Reduced productivity.
  • It enables a hostile workplace.
  • It promotes absenteeism.
  • It impacts workers compensation claims.
  • It results in costly, and embarrassing legal issues​.
  • It creates poor public image and negative publicity.
  • It leads to additional costs for recruiting or training new employees.
  • It erodes employee loyalty and commitment.
  • It increases sick leave, health care claims and staff turnover.
  • It increases legal exposure.
  • It leads to an internal perception of the business as one that allows bullying.
  • It leads the team to gang up on the receiver if it’s poorly handled or if the bully is greatly admired.
  • There is a need to be clear that a situation is one of bullying, not simple miscommunication
  • It’s always in your best interest to confront workplace bullying and to maintain a bullying-free workplace – prevention is more cost-effective than intervention or mediation. Psychological safety is probably a cornerstone of your value system.
  • Employers offer education for people in authority-bullying happens in asymmetrical power situations like leadership.
  • Strive to create a workplace environment that cultivates teamwork, cooperation, and positive interaction.

Now what?

  • Pre-emptively train a response protocol within the business and let people know your definitions and plans for what happens in cases of bullying.
  • When a situation is flagged to your attention: test to see if it’s a case of bullying or if the person complaining is unused to legitimate robust relationships
  • Hold a private, spry, supportive and confidential discussion with the receiver to hear and to understand their experience.
  • Validate their experience and if it’s appropriate, confirm that you consider this to be bullying behaviour.
  • Consider and discuss options with the receiver and either provide feedback about how to deal with the legitimate but badly received behaviour, OR
  • Act within the bullying protocol.

Is this a case of bullying?

  • Support the recipient confidentially through action.
  • Support the recipient through counselling if needed.
  • Restructure the work environment to remove the power asymmetry.
  • Restructure work to protect and support the recipient.
  • Hold the offender accountable through communication, training, counselling or disciplinary action.

Is this a case of legitimate behaviour being received as unkind or bullying?

  • Support both parties confidentially through action.
  • Get a mediator to help the parties discuss their responses and to find common ground.
  • Support the parties to work together.
  • Restructure work and power asymmetries if separation is the best solution
  • Be alert to manipulation from either party.

  • sprybusiness/spry10/narcissist-boss



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