Workplace Bullying Is The Lack Of Consensus Among Employers

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Bully. For many people, this term is synonymous with childhood teasing, wedgies, and purloined lunch money. Others, however, break out in a cold sweat at the thought of the term because they know a bully—or work for one. The problem of bullying is an old one but it has recently been sensationalized by way of social media campaigns as a social blight. As a result, responsibility for curing the problem has been handed over to lawmakers. Some European countries have enacted laws against workplace bullying, but politicians in the United States are still trying to agree on a definition. Although there is no universal definition of workplace bullying, employers should take steps to end workplace bullying because it is a pervasive issue that causes physical and psychological harm to victims. One of the greatest challenges to understanding and overcoming the phenomenon of workplace bullying is the lack of consensus among employers, researchers, and legislators as to what defines workplace bullying. Definitions of the phenomena overlap with some definitions being described as too broad or too narrow. Some complain that definitions are not precise enough or lack the span necessary to include all forms of workplace bullying. One reason there are so many definitions is because there are many components to consider: frequency, intensity, duration, intent, victim experience, and the effects of bullying, to name a few. Leymann and Tallgren (1989) define bullying as weekly exposure to one of 45 identified negative acts for a period of six months. The emphasis here is on the duration of the acts or behaviors, though other definitions of bullying place less emphasis on behavior. Conversely, Sercombe and Donnelly (2013) view bullying a... ... middle of paper ... ...(2004) states that bullying happens “everywhere, all the time, throughout history, and across cultures” (para. 1). It is easy to become lost in the facts and figures and forget that a prevalence of 10% means that you likely know someone who is a target of bullying. More importantly, workplace bullying causes devastating, often irreparable, physical and psychological harm to victims, perhaps even suicide. Some argue that a universal definition of bullying is needed for lawmakers to enact legislation against bullying, but why wait for governments to act? One cannot argue against the benefits of continued research, but there is no time like the present. Sercombe and Donnelly (2013) comment that a precise definition is not necessary for prevention of and intervention in bullying; I agree. Prevention begins with one person’s decision to recognize and reject bullying.

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