Workplace Bullies – Should You Ignore the Behavior?

[ad_1] Oftentimes suggestions on how to handle bullying include something like this:

Ignore the bully. Bullies are looking for a reaction and lose interest if they aren’t given the satisfaction of getting one.

But this advice is ill advised. It feels intuitively right, which is why we see it suggested, but it is not grounded in wisdom, experience or research.

Many years ago I was working on a research project to assess the incidence and prevalence of sexual harassment. I had the opportunity to ask some open-ended questions about harassment including asking women who reported being harassed:

How did you respond to the harassment?

Harassment targets indicated they would say nothing and just turn a cold shoulder or give a cold stare believing these actions would send a clear message that they were not interested in the harasser and would stop the harassment because the harasser wasn’t getting what he wanted-attention.

When I asked men what ‘doing nothing’, ‘turn a cold shoulder’, or ‘give a cold stare’ meant, they reported that it was consent. They saw silence as an invitation, silence as agreement, and silence as welcome. They were getting their reaction!

What is clear here is the absolute difference in interpretation of the same behavior. Victims believed silence was golden. Harassers believed silence was all the attention required to proceed.

So, what to keep in mind is DOING NOTHING DOES NOT STOP UNWANTED BEHAVIOR be it harassment or bullying.

So, the next time you are being bullied, think about the paradox of silence. It feels like the right action but it doesn’t stop the bully.

The real cause of silence is we do not want to make things worse and we do not know what to say that will make things better.

Granted, speaking up may not stop the bully but at least you won’t feel abused or vulnerable and you won’t pay the terrible price of having your health, well being, confidence, and life so damaged.

Using your voice is what makes sense when it comes to bullies. Here are four…

Sourced from by Kathleen Bartle

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