Is Your Workplace BullyProof? Advice From An Expert


Workplace bullying is a combination of consistent behaviors that have a negative impact on those around them. It is often difficult to identify, but the effects can be felt by employees in the form of absenteeism, diminished productivity, and even physical health problems. To combat bullying, Dr. Rob Fazio suggests focusing on the behaviors that create the negative experience and not labeling the individual as a bully. He encourages people to take back their power and use subtle strengths to influence alphas and strengthen society.

 Workplace bullying is an issue that affects millions of people every day. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute's U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey of Adult Americans, 30% of survey participants experienced bullying, 19% witnessed it, and 4% admitted to perpetrating it. That means that nearly half of US workers are affected by workplace bullying, equating to 79.3 million people. It is common for someone to be a bully and not even realize it, as there are 27 “bullying behaviors” that can lead to people feeling bullied or dominated. The costs of workplace bullying are tremendous, both to the people who experience it and to their organizations, leading to increased turnover, disengagement, anxiety, and illnesses, as well as a decrease in productivity. People can also be affected by bullying in their home lives and mental health.

 I believe people can be pulled into a reactive state of mind and unintentionally allow people to bully them. I want to help people take ownership, build intentional alliances, and not feel like victims. When faced with a situation, we have to make a decision: Will we reject what has happened and resist it, or will we accept what has happened and do what we can to improve the situation? Choosing to reject the event and resist will lead to a victim cycle, where we focus on what others aren’t doing rather than what we can be doing to adapt or get ahead. We might redirect and blame, talk about what is wrong rather than what can go right, rationalize why our victim mentality is the best response to the situation, and even create a victim alliance. Finally, we may retract and disengage, “leaving without leaving” before eventually leaving physically.

We need to create a culture that is both user-friendly and highly productive. This means cultivating and rewarding positive behaviors, such as no bullying, and encouraging strong, collaborative performance. To do this, leaders must have clear principles and take action on those who demonstrate bullying behaviors. If there is a consistent pattern, the best action is to invite those people to find another career opportunity. Additionally, we need to nurture and support Alpha Women, so they can harness the benefits of being an alpha and buffer the dark side. Lastly, leaders should use the motivational currency to reach people where they are. This means inviting people to be motivated instead of chasing them.

 Harvard psychologist David McClelland developed Motivational Currency®, an approach to recognizing and leading people based on understanding their individual drivers. The core four motivators are Performance, People, Power, and Purpose. To create BullyProof organizations, it is important for people who aren't being bullied or seeing bullying to be involved. This will help create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. To take intentional action, ask yourself "Who can I strengthen today in some way?" To learn more, visit for free downloadable BullyProof resources and templates.

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