A plea to fellow fighters of Workplace Bullying

I became a co-founder of the fledgling cyber-group called the International Educational Coalition on Workplace Bullying. I’m excited that the Coalition allows me to join so many others in freely promoting critical discussion, context and analysis of all the research taking place and how it impacts the overall understanding and  prevention of hostile work environments.  Everyone visiting our Facebook Page is encouraged to add their own opinion and approach.  Do I personally agree with everyone who posts on the site? No, and I’m proud to say that even the three of us who originally founded the IECWB don’t agree on all aspects of the issue and encourage everyone visiting the site to have that same healthy discourse. Our International focus has allowed different perspectives, coupled with personal experiences, to come together on one page.  It’s been eye opening to see how even countries with Workplace Bullying legislation in place are still struggling to define the best resolutions.

We bring together psychologists, lawyers, researchers, business & Human Resource representatives, advocates and victims to create a forum for all our voices.  And, there are so many things to discuss, below is just a sampling:

Support of strong Workplace Violence legislation that includes Workplace Bullying (Type 3 Workplace Violence) and making the link to Type 4 which includes Domestic Violence in the workplace as well as specific issue Workplace Bullying bills

Strengthening OSHA health harming protections

Strengthening Workers Compensation and how it can help targets currently suffering

Exploring Arbitration, ADR & Mediation as a way for targets to find relief

Putting aside the demonization of HR and Business owners and creating a true dialogue with those that want to support us

Discussing the types of policies and approaches that are actually effective and encourage a healthy workplace that discourages bullying behavior.

Staying current with evolving research in PTSD, Stress, Anxiety Disorders

Please take a moment to visit the IECWB site to find information, share information, and join the global discussion.

Here’s a link to our Press Release if you are interested in learning more about the IECWB. http://prlog.org/10829919

18 thoughts on “A plea to fellow fighters of Workplace Bullying

  1. I am very much in support of your comments. Each of us has a story to tell, a point of view. If all are not welcome, then we’re indulging in the very bullying or mobbing behaviour we wish to eliminate. As you said, it may not always be possible to agree with what someone says, but (apart from someone expressing racist or other inflammatory comments) let’s imagine there may be value in their opinion – that in allowing for all opinions to be expressed we remain open to the possibility of expanding our own understanding of such a complex issue as bullying.

    Offered in peace and friendship,


  2. There is much to learn from Everyone – Even though they personally had not been directly affected, the parents, spouse or even the child who lost a child, husband/wife, or parent from the effects of the terrorism of bullying have a story to share of which we can learn from; or gain insight.

    Even the bully should have a voice. Though uncomfortable, it would better help understand, and explain their behavior, and from there learn the personality of this type of person, and better know how to implement tools to either avoid them, develop tools to manage their behavior.

    Even the Experts, the doctors, professors, and those who have been influential in better predicting the bullies behavior is necessary voice.

    We should learn from the movements before us – Disability protection (ADA just celebrated their 20th year anniversary), Sexual Harassment, Workers rights, Fair Pay (lily ledbetter act) and all of those who have paved the way for change.

    We must also work in unison with the ones that have made and set some ground. We must make sure we stay focused on the final goal.. obtaining a National law –

    We must commit to defend and fight for what we believe in, we must continue to make a united commitment in all capacity and will that we can muster. We must remember to be responsible as focusing on personality would dilute the missive.

    It is important for all voices to be heard to promote ongoing free flow of values, thoughts, discussions. That is how democracy is founded.


  3. Beverly,

    Your compassion and passion for the work you do is very inspiring. You may have mentioned this already in one of your articles, but the term “bullying” is extremely broad. Many people don’t realize that this word includes, manipulation and being taken advantage of in a very subtle way.

    There are people ( borderline sociopaths) who will do anything to protect and maintain their position, including false befriending. This is one of the sickest forms of bullying because YOU DON’T SEE IT COMING. It is a very deceitful and appalling because it is a misuse of trust and dedication

    I was in such a position for over 10 years. The person I’m speaking about was an expert in evaluating another persons personalty, and then as any true opportunist, would tune in on their weaknesses in order to benefit their own personal needs and career gains. How many times I saw it being done to others, and being in true denial and not wanting to accept it, “turned the other cheek”, listening to the “bully’s” justifications towards the treatments they displayed.

    To make a long story short, this person took advantage of my weakness, “loyal and dedicated” She realized the importance of the work I did, the extreme care for accuracy and detail, would be a great asset to her position. She also realized that loyalty to work, friends, and employer were extremely high on my priority list and knew she had a gold ticket to freedom, realizing my abilities were a way for her to be able to take excessive amounts of time off, never worrying that anything would go wrong…”Donna will take care of it”

    By pretending to be a close friend, and tuning in on all these things, she was able to have her cake and eat it too. Take time off, maintain a supervisory position, and collect all the glory for the many things I had done.

    She realized I was a perfectionist and would use that to bring up the slightest “mistakes” in order to maintain power and control. She would do that in front of others also, mainly I believe to downplay my abilities and knowledge, which I now realize were greater than hers.
    Either after a shocking encounter of confrontation or when she wanted to take a straight 2 or 3 weeks off for vacation, she would turn and look at me and say, ” I love you, you are such a good friend”

    I had opportunities to even leave and go to other facilities with a better position. Because of her cunning nature, she would say things like, ” I know how loyal you are and what a good friend you are to me” How could I leave after that?
    The truth was, I was neither a friend to her or anything else other than a pawn in her career advancement.

    What took me so long to realize all this was
    1 the love of my work
    2 high level of work ethics and integrity
    3 the denial that I was so “out to lunch” and did not want to admit such things, nor did I want to accept that I was so badly used for so many years.

    I finally left after 12 years. As with most sociopaths, they believe they are beyond anything, and all their behavior is justified in their mind. This women crossed a line when her power and abilities were threatened, therefore was on the focused warpath to discredit me and my work, to both fellow workers and upper level employees. This is when my blinders came off and all loyalty and dedication was gone. I left.

    I guess this is sort of like an abused spouse, not sure, but I do know that everyone has a limit and a line that can not be crossed. That was mine.
    When I look back at it all, I do feel like a fool somewhat, but I guess there is a lesson learned for everything.

    I’m curious to know if you’ve heard of similar situations?


    • Hi Donna, Thank you so much for your kind words and sharing your story. Sadly I have heard of similar situations and surprisingly a recent survey found that bullying not only occurs but is increasing in charitable organizations. It’s vital that the fight against Workplace Bullying embrace all of us.


  4. In New York, we open the doors for people to participate in the activities that promote the issue of workplace bullying and the legislative activities that support it. What we often find is that people are too traumatized by their experience of being bullied to help in most cases. Successful efforts whether they involve legislative, corporate, social or community goals and ambitions are better served by a diverse group of people who bring different viewpoints to the table. This point was proven in May of this year when the State Senate voted 45-16 to pass the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bi-partisan support was present and those who worked on this effort in addition to NYHWA, left our opinions on politics at home and did the work of the people. Sadly, while much has been written about diversity and its advantages in successful endeavors, there are the majority who dismiss this information in favor of closed door, old boy and old girl networks.

    The bottom line is not who gets “credit” for passing workplace bullying legislation, it is the fact that it will exist to protect employees from abusive co-workers and apathetic employers who do not see the benefits of what an engaged and healthy workforce bring to the table and the goals of the organization. No one knows that names of those who worked on protected status harassment, and very few care. It is the dedication and perserverance of those people we all admire for taking on such a tremendous endeavor.

    Mike Schlicht
    State Coordinator
    New York Healthy Workplace Advocates


    • Hi Mike and thanks for your comments. You and I have known each other a long time now and I respect both you and Tom. I am not talking about asking people to accompany you in lobbying. I am talking about the larger decisions that are made, how they are made, and how others are included or not. I absolutely agree that it is not about who gets “credit” and that is precisely what this plea is about. As all movements have had to do, I feel strongly that this is a time for each of us to look inward to reflect on the types of behavior we too need to model before the next legislative campaign begins.


  5. I have experienced and observed workplace bullying in a number of fields and I am certainly glad there is a movement to put a stop to it.

    It saddens me when I see someone trying to do their best job only to be the main focal point of a superior or co-worker who is on a narcissitic power trip.

    Silence and complacency only adds to the problem and for so long we have reinforced this “take the high road and say nothing” approach which is quite wrong.

    Exposing a bully defuses them but ignoring them makes them more aggressive , it takes courage to face them but they will continue to seek out another target.

    There should be consequences to these people who are holding others hostage in the workplace with their egos.

    Our TV programs unfortunately do not help when when popularize programs where being manipulative & dishonest is glamorized.

    I’d like to see more information on conflict -resolution and how to conduct yourself in the workplace rather than how to backstab & hurt one another for entertainment.

    I find it curious how averse people are to the mere mention of the word “bullying” for fear they seem weak, it is hard to digest unless you have lived it and have been the target.

    It is possible to turn the tables on the bullys and I support doing just that.



    • Hi Desiree, I agree with you about asking for more rounded information on ways to combat bullying. The pros (not just the cons) of Arbitration, ADR, Mediation, Conflict Resolution should be discussed openly to learn what how they may help in finding solutions for some cases. I believe part of the problem is that the press seems uncertain about who to go to for alternative information and rely mostly on the same “Go To.” We’re hoping that the new IECWB will help to make available information more readily accessible. Keep up your fight!


  6. “The more ignorant the authority, the more dogmatic it is. In the filelds where no real knowledge is even possible, the authorities are the fiercest and most assured and punish non-belief with the severest of penalties.” Abraham Myerson


  7. No one should have to work with a jerk and “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – Winston Churchill. In reference to when the UK partnered up with the USSR against that psycho hitler during WWII


  8. I am glad that everyone here has a voice and are able to express themselves. one major problem for the target of bullying is that no one stands up on the victims behalf and testifies to what has happened. another problem is a large percentage of the bullies are in a position of authority and they use that power to their benefit by ignoring the problem, not properly investigating or black balling the target. an entity cannot be impartial in investigating themselves therefore the target is again victimized. there has to be an outside investigation committee with no ties to the target or the company. corporation heads, politicians and government agencies often socialize together and look out for one another. our legislatures have to tackle this problem and I think hearing our experiences will help them make their decisions.


    • Emily I thank you so much for offering your insightful point of view. I agree there that it makes sense to have an outside agency for just the reasons you state. The current Healthy Workplace Bill that is introduced does NOT do that they say because it saves money. Well their plan may not cost the taxpayer or the employer anything but it does cost quite a bit for the victim/target to engage an attorney because there would be no one there guiding you $$$$$. I think advocates have a duty to lobby for the best bill possible that they can get for victims/targets. The more I hear the lobbyists present this bill to legislators the more I have to ask who this bill was written to protect.


  9. Donna Smith – you described a former Director of mine to the ‘T’!
    Very manipulative and was able to string people along with alternating praise, support and surprise attack tactics and fear. I had been confided in by her at times about terrible things she had done to others and was she ever proud!

    Well she was done in by a woman she hired who was better at the ‘borderline sociopath’ thing than her. The Director was asked to leave after the hiree made strong ties with the upper administration, posed a threat to eliminate herself from the Division if the Director were not removed and had her way…

    So I left when this new person’s threats got focused on me, the person who filled in during the Director’s many extended absences. Mostly that I knew the department and ins and outs better than her and I still had a enough allies to be a perceived threat to her. I really didn’t do anything, I liked her she looks like my sister. I actually had part in getting her hired…

    Now I’m in a very cliquey environment where even the members of the clique are back-stabbing each other. The administrators are basicallly marking time until they retire and being friendly to everyone but only supporting those who come out on top of the heap.

    I think overdefining bullying is not the way to go or to restrict the speakers and areas of focus. I think it is an effective thing to take a more basic ook at the frequency, intent and effect of the behaviors on the target.

    I live in a state where it is ‘standard’ to be aggressive, rude and pushy. I’m sorry I have talked with ‘outsiders’ and have gotten a lot of agreement. When it gets to the point of negative health effects, impairment of ability to do work, not having enough information or training to do the work assigned, it is more than just ‘cultural’. There is no accident that CT has the Lottery shooter and now the horrible shooter in Manchester, CT. Maybe it’s in the water or the beer. It’s so sad..

    Best wishes to all Thank you.


  10. Bev, you have beautifully summarized two important things. Firstly, the importance of inclusion of all opinions, even opposing ones. And Secondly, the pain of exclusion. It’s a real shame when well-intentioned individuals get so focused on ‘their’ opinion or ‘their’ goals that in their desire to ensure absolute control they engage in bullying behaviour and lack the courage to honestly examine if their motivations match their actions. Only when people are comfortable enough in their own skins to express themselves in ways that do not attack others can they be open enough to differing perspectives. And surprisingly, once insecurity is lost, understanding is gained and those differing perspectives may unite to attain desired goals. A colour or a shape can be beautiful in and of itself, but it is when many colours and many shapes come together that something striking and powerful can be born. I’m proud of you. You have risen above the exclusion and invited all, even those participating in bullying behaviour to embrace something positive. You’ve been excluded because you are smart enough to see reality, talented enough to be perceived as a threat by those unable to share adulation, and independant enough to not be controlled. (All positive traits of Typical Targets.) Keep it up! I too have experienced the exclusion and likely for the same reasons. I too have had my character maligned through lies and inuendoes, and despite being able to contradict the lies and defend myself I have chosen to silently endure and go about achieving my goals. (Perhaps not the wisest course of action but not one I regret.) I still hold to the philosophy that aggression meeting aggression only makes more aggression, and aggression rarely solves problems. Those who use bullying tactics, including exclusion, a common ploy of Relational Aggression, will eventually be exposed as the circle of awareness widens and the courage of acceptance grows. In the meantime, know you are doing good things now. You can hold your head high and rejoice in the knowledge that you make the world a better place.


  11. I haven’t been with my current employer for very long, perhaps a little over a month. Already, I have been harshly chastised in front of co-workers and customers by my manager. From my background and experience, that is deemed as unprofessional and unethical at best. In my former line of work as an administrative assitant/operations support assistant, oftentimes if a manager needed to counsel an employee about something it was done in private and away from the ears of others. I had to take a job that was below my skill level because good jobs are difficult to secure and this job came along at a time when I really needed a paycheck. Well, I am now regretting my decision and don’t know whether to speak to the owner about this or to just let it be and put in my notice when I find other employment. Any suggestions?


    • I would love to be in a position to give advice but sadly even those with degrees in psychology shouldn’t be offering advice over the Internet. There are tons of links on the resource page with links and lots of books, articles etc. It is always best to find a qualified counselor you can talk to face-to-face who can give you personal counseling in how to move forward.


  12. Bev-

    You and the organization have my full support. I am willing to help in any way that I can.

    I feel as though I speak on behalf of my family, when i say we fully back this new approach to solving Bullying in the Work Place, or as I prefer to say, Psychological Harassment in the Work Place. Both titles seem to say it all!

    So! How do we join the “fledgling cyber-group called the International Educational Coalition on Workplace Bullying”?

    And how do I get a “Face of Approval” on this note?




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