Saturday, January 9, 2016

‘Beating the Workplace Bully’

Book cover, 'Beating the Workplace Bully, A Tactical Guide to Taking Charge' by Lynne Curry. Image depicts a side view of two figures seated at work stations, one in front of the other. The figure in the rear position throws and bounces a ball of the head of the person seated in front.
My interest in strategies to combat bullying — from being a survivor in childhood — led me to Beating the Workplace Bully by Lynne Curry (AMACOM Books, Jan. 13, 2016).

Drawing upon her experience as a workplace coach as well as past experience as a target, Curry identifies seven workplace bully types, their motivations and mindset. She also addresses strategies for dealing with each bully type.

The dynamics between bully and target that are addressed in this book include supervisor to subordinate, subordinate to supervisor and bullying between workplace colleagues.

One area I paid special attention to in this book was the victim’s perceived responsibility for being a bully’s target.

I was relieved to read, only a few pages in, that Curry does not “blame the victim” (in a foreword written by Gary Namie, Ph.D, cofounder and director of the Workplace Bullying Institute). This message was continually reinforced throughout my reading of the book.

Curry does, however, empower the bully’s target by broadening his or her repertoire of responses with which to fight back. And the book promotes reflecting on past responses to bullying that did not achieve desired results.

Particularly of value, Curry recommends strong workplace policies that proactively address bullying — that declare it unacceptable even when the target is not in a protected anti-discrimination category.

Bullying affects everyone, not just the bully and target, and for bullying to be eliminated requires support and buy-in among an entire community. Curry’s book addresses that reality.

Altogether, Curry’s book provides much-needed information about workplace bullying and supports a comprehensive, company-wide approach to keep bullying out of the workplace.

Addendum: Personal Recommendations about Workplace Bullying

I want to offer thoughts on two specific areas of bullying that can show up in the workplace. The first involves social media and corporate websites that allow public commenting.

I believe that the ability to be anonymous is a license for viciousness and that the ability to leave comments on a website should be tied to a user account — either through the commenting platform or another social media account.

This doesn’t curtail the ability to use a pseudonym, but it does allow posters to be held accountable and even blocked for abusive behavior.

The second area includes abusive behavior by a vendor or customer. A business should provide guidelines for this type of situation and should even be on record that it supports an employee if he or she has to terminate an abusive exchange.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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