Bullying occurs in nearly every social setting. In the workplace, bullying can take many shapes and forms, resulting in psychological trauma to those being bullied. Researchers from Norway sought to determine if being in a leadership role, or in a more ambiguous role, would increase bullying or the chance of being bullied. “The behavior involved in bullying can be of a work-related nature, such as unduly removing or changing an individual’s work tasks, but can also be of a more personal degrading nature, such as being exposed to persistent insulting criticism and remarks,” said the researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian National Institute of Occupational Health, the Norwegian Work Research Institute, the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics and the University of Bergen. “Workplace bullying can be understood as a gradually evolving process in which targets in the early phases of the process are being exposed to subtle and often disguised forms of mistreatment, whereas, later on, more direct and openly aggressive behavior may occur. Bullying can take the form of direct acts, such as verbal abuse, accusations, and public humiliation, but it can also be of a more subtle and indirect nature in the form of gossiping, rumors, and social exclusion.”
The researchers noted that any form of bullying can create extreme stress in the workplace. For their study, they examined surveys from 10,000 Norwegian employees throughout over 600 different departments within the working population. The surveys measured social and psychological conditions in the work environment. They found that nearly 5% of the respondents reported being bullied while nearly 15% stated that they had observed bullying behavior in the workplace. The researchers said that role conflict between employees predicted bullying most frequently. Additionally, having supportive leadership helped keep bullying to a minimum. The researchers added, “Identifying risk factors for bullying at a higher level of conceptualization yields great potential in terms of preventing bullying from workplaces, and will provide management and practitioners with valuable information of where intervening measures against bullying can be successfully implemented.”
Hauge, L. J., Einarsen, S., Knardahl, S., Lau, B., Notelaers, G., & Skogstad, A. (2011, September 12). Leadership and Role Stressors as Departmental Level Predictors of Workplace Bullying. International Journal of Stress Management. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025396
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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