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.
What are the consequences for the individual?
- Higher Blood Pressure
- Panic Attacks
- Trouble Sleeping
- 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
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.
- 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.