Schoolyard bullying has garnered publicity recently with all too many cases of mental illness and even suicide as a result of being bullied at school. But what about workplace bullying? What is workplace bullying and how is it different to bullying at school? The Workplace Bullying Institute uses this description: “Workplace Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done; or verbal abuse.” Although workplace bullying can occur in coworker relationships, most workplace bullying is carried out by a direct supervisor. When the boss is the bully, their position power may accentuate the bullying behavior, intimidating the employee into feeling powerless to take action. The bully boss could never be considered a conscious leader.
The targets of schoolyard bullying must have the help and support of adults and other children to overcome the loneliness and fear of being bullied. Loverly Sheridan, a friend and fellow Board member at the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, and author of The Bully Needs a Buddy Too! has inspired a campaign for introducing buddy benches in local schools. The buddy bench is a simple idea to combat loneliness and foster friendliness in the playground, creating opportunities to invite someone to talk, walk, and play.
Although a workplace Buddy Bench may provide the space for conversation, the targets of workplace bullying have a greater personal responsibility for managing their situation and finding solutions. They also need the help and support of others. With Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week approaching, October 14-20, 2018, this is a good time for aspiring conscious leaders acting with integrity to stand up against workplace bullying and eliminate toxicity in the workplace. The conscious business is no place for the workplace bully. Conscious leaders have a responsibility for creating conscious cultures in the workplace, striving to create healthy workplaces where mental well-being is a high priority and bullies are never tolerated.