Special Guest Blog from Workplace Bullying expert and Legislative Advocate Dr. Lisa M.S. Barrow, author of “In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying“ and “Hope For a Healthy Workplace“. She was deeply involved in Canada’s recent passage of anti-bullying legislation.
Fortunately for employees who live in a few Canadian provinces such as Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec, legislation has been passed that addresses workplace harassment. Quebec (2002) was one of the first provinces to pass workplace harassment legislation. Saskatchewan followed suit in 2007.
The province of Ontario recently passed legislation under the Ontario Health & Safety Act that addresses workplace harassment. The new legislation goes into effect on June 15, 2010. Employers are required to incorporate policies that address not only workplace harassment but also workplace violence and domestic violence. Employers must educate and train employees about workplace violence and harassment. They must take reasonable steps to protect employees from acts of violence and harassment.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE WORKPLACE BULLY
[excerpt from Dr. Barrow's book, “In Darkness Light Dawns: Exposing Workplace Bullying”]
Upon first meeting, a bully may come across as polite, amiable and even jovial. The term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” comes to mind. At the outset, a bully may be winsome and engaging, seeking to win your trust. All the while, he or she is gathering information that may prove useful later in thwarting the goals and desires you’ve revealed.
Bullies typically possess a “Type A” personality; they are competitive and appear driven, operating as they do from a sense of urgency. This has its advantages in the workplace but the shadow side of Type A is the tendency to become frustrated and verbally abusive when things don’t go according to plan. Impatience and temper tantrums are common for Type A individuals who haven’t engaged in the personal growth required to gain self-awareness, maintain emotional stability and consider situations from multiple points of view.
Because of the bully’s “two-faced” nature—considerate if things are going well and abusive if not—his or her presence in an organization can cause the work environment to become tense. People feel as if they are “walking on eggshells” around the bully. They feel he or she is a “sleeping giant” who could, upon awakening, explode with rage.
Above all, bullies crave power and control, and this craving underlies much of what they do, say and fail to do and say at work. Bullies use charm and deceit to further their own ends and seem oblivious to the trail of damage they leave behind, as long as their appetites for power and control are fulfilled.
When confronted, bullies typically ramp up the negativity rather than curtail it because they feel a loss of control. The more threatened they feel, the more aggressive they become, and unfortunately, they are easily threatened because of the deep-seated insecurity they strive at all costs to hide, even from themselves.
If you’ve been bullied, you may find it difficult to see past the bully’s shortcomings enough to feel sorry for him or her, and in that way to begin moving past bitterness toward forgiveness. It may help you to remember that despite all of their arrogance and bravado, bullies are needy, weak and yes, unwell. They abuse their power in order to feel good about themselves. They lash out at others in order to protect themselves. At the end of the day, they are afraid their inadequacies will be exposed. They are terrified of the emptiness inside their hearts, which they have not allowed love to reach.
[You can find more of Dr. Barrow's posts or order her book at: http://www.bulliednomore.com ]