Workplace Bullying: Are You a Victim Or a Perpetrator?

Workplace bullies use aggressive behavior to get ahead, the results show. A recent study published by the University at Buffalo, School of Management reveals that aggressive behavior receives positive evaluations in the workforce. The study examines the relationship between the workforce bullying and job performance and found that there is a positive correlation between the two, to the dismay of many who have experienced workforce bullying. 

Workforce bullying was defined as "systematic aggression and violence targeted towards one or more individuals by one individual or by a group." Workplace bullies get ahead by using political tactics and using their acute social skills to get ahead of others within the office environment. The study showed that workplace bullies would often use their with and charm to manipulate others to do things to so that they can advance their own objectives.

What will be important in the near future is how further studies will define workforce bullying. Many managers want individuals who are self-starters, possess an ability to get things done in a dynamic environment. This poses a fine line in the near future: How do you differentiate between an individual who clearly prioritizes achieving the goals of the company more than an other individual's feelings and future relationship. 

Yet, workforce bullies are a product of an office environment where rules aren't set and objectives need to be met. Anything goes, as they say. This attitude can lead to detrimental workspace environment and sever work relationships. Other studies have shown that almost half of the workforce has at one point or the other experienced workplace bullying. 

Most workplaces do not have bullying policies. This is something seen as left in the dust of the schoolyard playgrounds, and not a serious issue in adult's life. 

It's really difficult to legislate on this issue. As this emerges as a trend in the years to come, look out for state legislatures to enact some guidelines or even legislation on this. The worst has yet to come, but aggressive behavior leads to aggressive actions. It's important firms notice these workplace dynamics so that issues can be addressed and that relationships won't be severed to a point where potential workforce bullying won't harm a firm's potential just based on aggressive behavior on the account of one person. 

Workplace bullying is no different than bullying in school. While the recent study suggests that it presents more incentives to bully by getting ahead of others, the self-interest of a workplace bullying is outweighed in the long run because relationships last, aggressive tactics can work for only so long before enough is enough with one individual. If employers create an environment to further drive their employees to achieve their objectives without developing workforce bullies, that will be the greatest Machiavellian maneuver of them all. 

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Shehab Chowdhury

A writer, educator, policy wonk enthusiast, and a believer in witty sentences.

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