National Bullying Prevention Month

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October is the time of year when special attention is brought to bullying awareness.  Typically, the first thing that comes to my mind is the prevalence of bullying among children and teens.  While bullying among this age group continues to be a prominent concern, my awareness has recently been brought to bullying in the work place.

Last month, I attended a presentation on bullying and was surprised to find out bullying is increasing in the workplace.  Workplace bullying can be defined as – persistent, repetitive, offensive, intimidating, and malicious behavior which humiliates, degrades and displays lack of respect for the targeted individual(s) resulting in them feeling vulnerable and threatened.  Surveys show women are more likely to be bullied than men and women tend to bully more women than men.

Unfortunately, bullying also is on the rise nationally as we see growing incidence of hate crimes.  On a daily basis, we hear of incidents where someone was bullied, hurt or even killed because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual identity, or sexual orientation.

Stomp Out Bullying is a national campaign to “End the hate…Change the Culture”.  I believe the anti-bullying action steps they suggest for “increasing awareness of bullying on all children of all ages” can also be applied to a work place, or even community setting.  I’ve adapted their suggestions from a school setting to the work environment:

  • Make friends with someone you don’t know – talk to someone on a different team or in a different department whom you usually don’t interact with on a regular basis.
  • Challenge others to be kind – Acknowledge and give praise when you see someone being kind.  Be a leader in creating a culture of kindness in your organization.
  • Stand up for others – In the training I mentioned above, we were challenged to ask ourselves if we have played the role of the bully, the bullied, or the bystander.  When you witness someone being bullied and you feel safe to do so – stand up for them.  If not, report the incidence to your human resources department or a supervisor. 
  • Encourage inclusion – Ask to join the person who is sitting alone for lunch in the breakroom.  Be the first to introduce yourself to a new colleague. 
  • Start conversations amongst your peers – Help create a culture of safety by sparking conversations about inclusion, diversity, and anti-bullying.  Use meetings as opportunities to engage in icebreakers around these subjects.